Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

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Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Epcot Revisited

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 28, 2016

We spent last weekend getting our Disney World fix. Early in the morning, we took a walk at Riverside Resort, enjoying the old South ambiance with colonial-style buildings. Every few feet along the bayou were signs warning of alligators and snakes. But it was the tropical foliage and beautifully landscaped grounds that captured our attention. We had breakfast in the food court before heading back to our condo for a rest.

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A short while later, we drove to Epcot for a stroll around our favorite theme park. Here is the water fountain by Imagination. Note the water spraying up rather than down.

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We went on the ride at the Land, always a pleasant interlude especially in the ninety-degree heat. I like seeing how their fruits and veggies thrive in a soil-less environment. The fish tanks are what inspired me to research tilapia aquaculture for Body Wave. Note the baby alligators in the tank on the right.

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The new Frozen ride is open that replaced Maelstrom at the Norway pavilion. We noticed a line at Fast Pass, and if you didn’t reserve a spot there, you had a two hour wait. This was around 10:30am. We refreshed ourselves with free soft drink samples from around the world at the Coca Cola building, ate lunch at a fast food place with indoor seating, and gave up on walking around World Showcase. That’s the advantage of having annual passes. You can come and go without feeling the pressure to stay all day and go on the rides. We’ve been on most of them enough times to conduct our own tour.

 

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Weekend Fun

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 21, 2016

A break from work is needed once in a while, and this past weekend I was fortunate to enjoy several new experiences. A getaway was especially welcome considering we’d been stuck in the house for weeks now while our bathroom renovation is getting done.

On Saturday, I attended a meeting of the Florida Chapter Mystery Writers of America. Author Judi Ciance offered advice on how to display books at festivals and signing events. She doesn’t just lay them out flat on a table. Instead, she prepares an attractive display with fun items related to her book covers, a dish of candy to tempt passersby, bookends that are conversation starters, and a huge poster saying “Meet the Author.” I hope I get to put her tips into practice.

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Sunday found us attending the Beauty and the Beast show at Broward Center for Performing Arts. It had been years since we’d been to a performance here. Our orchestra location was ideal for seeing the stage, but the seats were crammed in so tightly that you barely had room for your legs. Kiosks in the lobby sell souvenirs and snacks, and I believe you can pay extra to sit in a lounge. The show was great although not quite as spectacular as Lion King. “Be our Guest” is still my favorite production number.

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From here, we drove over to 15th Street Fisheries where we hung around until our dinner reservation. Casual dining downstairs and the bar area were mobbed. You could sit outside under cover but good luck if you didn’t have a reservation.

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Since it was Father’s Day, I’d reserved a table in the fancier (and pricier), upstairs dining room. We liked the raspberry salad with candied walnuts. My Florida snapper came with coconut and mango rice. Richard had Ahi tuna.

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The food was good, and so was the service, but our view out the window at the Intracoastal was the best part. I’ll leave you with this video so you can imagine yourself on a boat in a balmy breeze.

 

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

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 20, 2016

We spent the morning this past weekend getting our exercise at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale. Located east on Sunrise Blvd., this large acreage contains picnic areas, beach access, a fresh-water lake, and walking trails. The garden center is currently closed for renovations. You can go on Segway tours, rent boats or bikes, and more.

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We began our stroll by heading down a trail toward the beach. You can either access the sidewalk along the street, or go underground via a tunnel to the sandy beach. Other than inside the park, this stretch doesn’t have any amenities such as restrooms or snack bars. Entry fees for the park will range from $2.00 to $6.00, depending on if you drive a vehicle and how many people are in the car. For pedestrians only, it’s the lesser sum.

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After viewing the glistening ocean and the freighters hovering offshore, we turned back to explore the nature trails inside the state park. We spied a gopher tortoise before it vanished into the woods. The leafy trees provided welcome shade.

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The twenty-minute Maritime Hammock Trail appealed to us, so we took off along the wooded dirt path. We watched our footing as tree roots and dead leaves provided hazards underfoot. We wore hats for protection against the sun dappling through the branches and against spider webs overhead. The tree trunks were thin this time of year and the swamp not too buggy. It brought back the nostalgia of my childhood days and how I’d let my imagination roam free. In the woods near our house, friends and I would play war. These days I’d picture myself as an adventurer on a quest to another planet, wary of strange life forms and aware of danger around every corner. It refills the creative well to let your mind wander during visits to new places. I didn’t need to imagine my heroine sleuth Marla Shore being chased through the woods as I’ve already written that scene.

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See the grapes growing on the sea grape tree to above right? Another trail seemed to head off into the far distance, so we turned away from that one. Hot and sweaty, we returned to our car and drove the rest of the way around the road. This took us from the beach side to the Intracoastal with views of expensive homes and big-time yachts.

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We’re lucky we have so many parks and nature centers available in Broward County in addition to the beaches. Now is a good time to go, before the summer heat and humidity bring the mosquitoes and being outdoors–except in a pool–is less desirable.

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

Disney World Revisited

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 16, 2016

We had another enjoyable visit to Disney World, our favorite weekend getaway. Over Mother’s Day weekend, we strolled through Disney Springs, enjoying glimpses of new eateries like The Edison (under construction) and STK Steakhouse. A new section is scheduled to open this month. Planet Hollywood is undergoing renovations as is the old paddlewheel boat restaurant. New shops have also opened up. It’s great that parking is still free, and the garage is a marvel of technology that parking garages everywhere should emulate. The second garage is still under construction.

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At Animal Kingdom, we saw building cranes over where Avatar land is being developed. We didn’t spot much else that was new. It was already crowded when we arrived late morning, so we passed by the rides/attractions and stood in line for lunch. This place could have used more than one cashier. Sit-down restaurants are not readily available in this park, other than the Asian one and the Rainforest Café. The windows at the fast-food places get crowded. Let’s hope the Avatar section will have more dining choices. It’s still pleasant to stroll around the park with the tropical vegetation and authentic-looking scenery.

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

Writers Conference on Cruise Ship

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 14, 2016

Cruise with your Muse aboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas.

Fun-in-the-Sun Conference sponsored by Florida Romance Writers.

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Join us to see the beautiful blue seas of Cozumel with Keynote Speaker Elizabeth Hoyt and Special Guest Speaker Michael Hauge.

Guest Speakers

Sail from Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, February 16th, 2017 and return to port on Monday, February 20th, 2017.

Editor/Agent appointments, writing workshops, and social networking events.

Interior Cabin: $480.72 per person with a $50.00 on board credit per cabin
Promenade $441.47 per person
Oceanview $563.22 per person with $100.00 credit per cabin (H)
Balcony category E3 $642.47 per person (E3)
Junior suite $1050.72 with $300.00 credit per cabin

These prices are only sample fares, contact our travel agent at 305-666-1010 to get the current pricing. Promotion offers are frequently available at lower prices.

Cruise includes ship accommodations, ocean transportation, meals onboard, entertainment, taxes, and port charges. Cruise fee deposit is due when you reserve your cabin and is paid directly to our travel agent. 

Pre-sail Party on Wednesday night February 15, 2016. Details TBA.

Conference fee:
FRW Members –  $160 conference fee through 7/1/16
RWA Members – $180 conference fee through 7/1/16
Non-members – $200 conference fee through 7/1/16
Companion/Spouse  $50 conference fee

To Register, go to http://frwfuninthesunmain.blogspot.com

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Cruising, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Green Cay Nature Center

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 22, 2016

We spent a lovely day on Saturday enjoying the serenity of nature at Green Cay Nature Center in Boynton Beach. Besides a boardwalk offering a couple of trails over the wetlands, there’s a science center with exhibits and a tiny gift shop.

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The weather was perfect for a trek, in the seventies with cloudy skies that kept the heat away. It attracted the birds, however, because we saw many varieties.

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What thrilled us was catching a glimpse of an alligator swimming along. It’s rare to see one moving like this, so we stared transfixed. See it moving on my Facebook page.

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Here’s another one sunning on a patch of higher ground.

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The trees and vegetation were lovely and relaxing to our urban-glazed gaze. We strolled along, soaking in the bird sounds and enjoying the slight breeze.

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It pays to seek nature once in a while, forcing you to remember the days when electricity wasn’t abundant and people had to live off the land. You gain a renewed appreciation for all that civilization has given us, minus the ugly side of human nature. Here in this oasis, all is at peace and harmony. And so, peace be with you, my friends. Where do you go to seek tranquility?

Our walk made us hungry, so we headed to Seasons 52 for lunch. I’d say we enjoyed ourselves, yes?

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Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Winter Park

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 29, 2015

We decided to visit the Farmer’s Market in Winter Park last Saturday. Not all the vendors were present since it was a holiday weekend, so we grabbed croissants at a food stand and jumped back in the car. The perfect weather led us to Harry P. Leu Gardens, a lovely botanical gardens that we’ve visited many times before. This garden was the model for Orchid Isle (minus the orchids) in my wedding mystery, Shear Murder. It was a perfectly clear and sunny day to stroll the many tree-lined paths.

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From here, we went for lunch at the popular barbecue place, 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Then we headed over to Lombardi’s seafood market. We purchased fresh salmon farmed in the U.S. without hormones and gazed in awe at the other offerings.

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Our daughter made delicious salmon balls for dinner, accompanied by cauliflower mash and potato latkes. The latter caused some hilarity in the kitchen as one mishap led to another, and we ended up dumping out the cooked and peeled potatoes in favor of using a handy box mix. No matter; the family that cooks together, stays together.

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With wonderful holiday memories to treasure, my husband and I headed home. Now it’s time to clean things up from 2015 and move ahead toward the new year.

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

Star Wars at Disney Springs

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 28, 2015

We spent Christmas Day at the movies as is our tradition. This year, we saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Disney’s Dine-In Movie Theater. I love this experience where you lounge in comfy seats, order a meal, and dine during the film showing on a big screen.

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As for the movie, I loved it. It has action-packed scenes and emotional resonance similar to the original film that started it all. The new characters are complex and engage your interest right away, while seeing familiar faces brings you back to an earlier era when the same universe fired your imagination. It appeals to both old and new fans and satisfies both. Surprise plot twists will startle you even if you thought you saw them coming. As for the final scene, all I could say was, “How can they end it NOW?” We breathlessly await the sequel to see if it will bring another reveal. Meanwhile, I’m ready to pre-order this DVD.

After the movie, we strolled along the west end of Disney Springs amid the Christmas Day crowds, crossed the bridge and headed for a glimpse of the new Hangar Bar. This themed lounge is very small so be prepared to wait for a seat.

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We passed by the Boatyard, a popular restaurant which we’d tried before. It’s next to a landing where you can rent an amphibious car to cruise the lake. We went over to Morimoto Asia instead for drinks and appetizers. I had the sake sangria and an order of steamed dumplings. Reservations are suggested for a seat in the dining room. Otherwise, you can sit in the bar area and order food.

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The mobs of people discouraged us from exploring further changes at Disney Springs, so we headed home.

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

South Florida History Museum

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 11, 2015

Located in downtown Bradenton, Florida, the South Florida History Museum offers two levels of exhibits. Short on time, we bypassed the Bishop Planetarium which is included in the admission price ($19 adults, $17 seniors). Our first stop was the Parker Manatee Aquarium, where a guide demonstrated the qualities of several manatees under their care. These huge, intelligent creatures were impressive. They prefer warm water and can be sensitive to cold temperatures, pollution, and boats that get in their path.

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From here, we moved on to dioramas and displays of native habitats, shell collections, and pine uplands with a pioneer cabin.

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There’s a Spanish house with a chapel that has a lovely stained glass window.

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My favorite was the Medical Gallery with an ancient operating room, dental suite, torturous looking instruments, and an apothecary shop.

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You could easily spend a couple of hours here or more. It was an unexpected bonus of our trip to the west coast, and I’m glad we could enjoy this attraction. Note there’s a gift shop but no café on premises.

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

Bradenton

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 9, 2015

I was invited to give a talk for the Manatee Arts and Lecture Series in Bradenton, Florida, followed by a high tea, on Wednesday, October 21. https://youtu.be/_hRX_Pt18LY

We arrived the day before at this surprisingly large town on Florida’s west coast just north of Sarasota. After crossing a bridge spanning the Manatee River on Business Route 41, we swung left to the Palmetto Riverside Bed and Breakfast. This lovely historic house was built in 1913 and later expanded as a wedding venue. It has six bedrooms, each with private bath. The rooms are decorated with many interesting knickknacks. From the moment you enter, the host and hostess greet you warmly and see to your every need.

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Here’s the house next door:

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Drinks and appetizers are complimentary pre-dinner. We enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and chatting with other guests before heading over to the Riverhouse Reef and Grill for dinner. This was a lovely setting on the river, and we enjoyed our meal of salmon with a lemon dill sauce. Here we visited with my former critique partner, author Sharon Hartley, who’d made the trip to join us. Our appetizers, besides a bowl of green olives and another one of a strange orange fruit:

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In the morning, our B&B hosts served us a sumptuous breakfast on the sunny enclosed porch. The choices were too many and highly tempting. A cart was rolled over to our tableside. It held a bread basket (croissants, nut bread, French bread slices); yogurt parfait; fruit cup; selection of cheeses; orange juice; watermelon smoothie. Who could eat all this? But that wasn’t all! Our host brought over a plate with scrambled eggs and a panini sandwich. More weight gained!

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Barely able to move after this enormous meal, we staggered to the car and headed into town. Free until the afternoon, we visited the South Florida History Museum before moving on to my first engagement of the day at the Manatee Performing Arts Center. I gave my scheduled talk, which was video recorded for an educational TV station, fielded questions from readers in the audience, and signed books courtesy of Bookstore One from Sarasota.

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Then we moved on to Latte Luna, a delightful café in town, where we and other guests were treated to a high tea. More food! This meal started with scones and jam, then proceeded to a plate filled with some sort of spinach and cheese concoction, plus three little sandwiches. We finished with desserts including an iced banana cake, oatmeal cookie, and iced cupcake.

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If you’ve been following my blogs, now you know why going away from home is a sure way for me to gain weight. A couple of Halloween events coming up will be fun but won’t help in that regard. Then I MUST focus on losing the extra pounds before our upcoming cruise.

Since we got out of the tea room late, we stayed for a night at the historic Hampton Inn in downtown Bradenton. I liked the décor and architecture of this hotel that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Contest Alert! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench. Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.

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Posted in Appearances, Business of Writing, The Writing Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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