Hello World! Tried Chocolate Wine Lately?

So. It’s been a while since I last posted last for various reasons.  Mostly because I’ve gone through round after round of illnesses, nothing noteworthy or hospital worthy (yay!) but enough to make me miss more work, more running, more bicycling and more paddle boarding than I even want to think about. It’s so sad really.

I feel like I’m writing a confessional but it’s been like 3 months since I ran at all and 4 months since I went paddleboarding.  And I was doing so well, going every weekend forever!  Oh well, I think it’s getting time to get back in the swing of things.  How many times have I said that or something similar?

Anyways, that has nothing o do with what I was going to write about today.  I used to have a blog called Wannabe Winos (you know that’s a great name) and though I only wrote in it for about a year I really liked it because I used it as a journal to keep track of different wines I tried and whether they were great and should go on the keeper list or not so much.

Since Kinda Zennish is nothing if not about whatever and I’ve already professed my love of wine (and other fine spirits) I decided that I would combine the two so that I can keep track of my wine preferences again.  If you are a casual drinker of wine then you know that it can be difficult to remember which bottles were the ones you wanted to try again.  Or maybe that’s just an effect of finishing that wine quick enough that it doesn’t go vinegary on you.

Whatever. Anyways…

chocovine

This is the wine I was looking at when I decided to start the blog wine journal. Chocolate wine! How could it not be good?

I poured a glass (screw top bottle, gotta love easy) and sat out in the perfect Florida weather to enjoy.

It was pretty good – in small doses. It’s incredibly sweet and has a consistency more like a liqueur than wine. You can taste the red wine in the background, and very sweet chocolate in the front. I don’t think it would be good with any food except maybe not too sweet cookies like biscotti. Unfortunately I can’t stand biscotti so straight wine it is.

I think this wine would be best for special occasions when you want to pick up something different for friends to try. Anyone have a suggestion of what would be served with chocolate wine for family and friends?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy World Oceans Day!

World Oceans Day has been recognized by the United Nations since 2009. Before that it had been coordinated by The Ocean Project since 2002 and celebrated on a smaller scale even before that.

A different theme is chose each year, this year it is Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet.

The oceans make up enough of this planet that I think it goes without saying that we can’t have one without the other.

The push this year is to use less disposable plastic.  They aren’t talking about not using any plastic at all – that’s pretty much impossible at this time.  Think about the one use plastic items that you use on a daily basis.  At first I thought it was a fairly easy challenge, but then I looked at the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge Tip Swap and holy crap. It’s not just grocery bags that we throw away on a daily basis.  Its trash bags, toothpaste containers, milk/tea/gallon water containers, liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner bottles, the plastic that heads of lettuce and grape tomatoes come in, the list goes on forever.  It’s actually pretty intimidating. But what isn’t intimidating is choosing just one thing for now.  Maybe stop using straws, start using loose tea instead of tea bags, or bring your own bags to the grocer (not the most fun BYOB but still).

Personally I am going to try very hard to actually remember to bring in the stash of cloth bags I have had in my trunk for ages and to bring a net bag on my paddleboard for picking up trash I come across.  On Memorial Day I actually ran across an empty Cheetos bag floating in the water.  Really?

ownday-dolphin

If you are bummed you didn’t find out about World Ocean’s Day sooner no worries, President Obama just proclaimed June as National Oceans Month.  So pick a one use plastic item and see how long you can go without using it.  And when you get used to going without that item pick another.  Because the oceans don’t just need us to keep them clean and healthy just one day or even just one month a year.

What one use plastic item can you do without?

 

 

World Oceans Day at Mote Aquarium

I’d never been to Mote Aquarium, though I do love aquariums.  It’s almost 2 hours from my house so I can’t exactly just drop in.  But with the celebration of World Oceans Day as an excuse I was in. My almost 15 year old hates car rides longer than 15 minutes so much you’d think he was allergic but to my surprise both of my teenagers wanted to go to and seemed excited about it.

When you first go into Mote’s Aquarium you enter a big room full of aquariums containing fish both native to Florida and invasive to Florida, like the lionfish, that are in our local waters.  Lionfish are beautiful, but they have such a detrimental effect on the native fish and therefore the reef habitat that people are encouraged to catch them with no limit and there are even cookbooks focused solely on lionfish dishes.  Just another reason for me to be happy to be a vegetarian.  🙂

Tanks I love the clown fish and the starfish, but I’d say my favorite was the jellyfish.  We even happened to be there when they where being fed, which was interesting and very cool.

Jelly Collage

After we went through this area we went outside where they had shark exhibits (I love hammerhead sharks!) and where they where they had a ton of booths to give information on ways we can help avoid polluting the oceans, what to do to avoid hurting loggerhead turtle hatchlings (I didn’t realize how important it is to fill in any holes you dig at the beach to avoid trapping them) and all kinds of family friendly activities like  face painting, making bracelets and necklaces, temporary tattoos (got some!) and listening to a cool band whose instruments where all made of trash.

crowds Collage

After we talked to all of the people at the various booths we went across the street to the mammal area.   This is where you can see the otters, giant turtles, and manatees.  Awesome!

One great thing about this aquarium is that there are people all over telling you all about the individual animal’s backstories and how they got to the aquarium.  We were told not just how the manatees got to be at the aquarium, but also little tidbits about their personalities.  It was just one more reminder of how all animals have a personality beyond just what is known of their species in general or expected behaviors.

Random Collage For the record, otters are crazy hard to get a picture of underwater,  they are so fast!  I don’t know a thing about otters but they seem like such playful creatures it’s hard to stop watching them and walk away.

If you’d like to visit the aquarium Mote is located at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236.  Mote is an independent, nonprofit marine science institution dedicated to research. It’s a great opportunity to support a great cause by having a great time that your entire family will enjoy, even my finicky teenagers.  Who can’t get behind that?

I received 2 tickets to the aquarium as a member of Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with Mote Aquarium in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own, of course.

100/100/3

I was exploring other blogs out there and stumbled across a girl who started a New Year’s challenge for herself to paddleboard 100 miles in 100 days.  A mile a day doesn’t sounds like much, but when you take into account the fact that it’s an activity that you can’t do on a daily basis, it’s weather reliant, and not actually all that close to the house it puts it into perspective a bit.

I liked the idea so much I decided to challenge myself to do the same.

I just started bicycling a couple of weeks ago, so I thought it would be fun to bike 100 miles in that time too.  That’s something I can just go outside and do, as long as it isn’t lightening.  Fun!

Then I decided to sign up for the Dare Greatly Trail half marathons.   It’s 3 halves starting in December.  I mean, ya I’ve never run more than 4 miles and I haven’t run at all in a year, but what the heck, right?

I even made this great banner photo thing for my post.

Paddle_Bike_Run

Then I announced my super great plans to the boyfriend, aka partner in crime.  (AKA person I’m volunteering to do this with me.) And he used his stupid logic on me.  How many weeks in 100 days? About 14. So that’s less than 7.5 miles a trip.  Easy, right?  We usually paddle about 3 miles, what’s the difference?  Unless, of course, we skip a weekend which is a given considering 5 kids between us. Plus jobs that easily take 50 hours a week. Plus his other job and out frequent non-paddling adventures.  Hmmm, maybe not quite as easy as I thought.

The bike part really should be easy though, we tend to ride the trails near the house about twice a week so that part should be easy peasy. Heck I’ll ride around the block until I hit 100 miles if I have to.

The running, well that’s not a given and not something I’m great at being consistent about. But we have 7 months until the first half, so it’s probably doable. Right? Sure.

So the question is whether or not I should give it a go.  No point trying something you know for a fact you can’t do, but then how do you know if you don’t give it a try?

Any opinions? Are there 3 things that you enjoy doing so much that it would be fun to challenge yourself to do them a lot more than you currently are?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manatee Season!

You’ve probably seen news articles on all of the manatees at 3 Sister’s Springs, it seems that people everywhere I talk to have.  I’ve been up there a few times. Once I did the ‘swimming with manatees’ thing and the second time I rented a board from Manatee Paddleboard and wrote about what a great time we had on their tour.   But I never went when it was actually manatee season.  I think that is about October through the beginning of April.  In other words, when it’s cold enough you aren’t sure you want to be in the water.  Trust me, it’s totally worth it.

This time we brought our paddleboards instead of renting.  This way we could be on the water at sunrise, before the crowds.  We didn’t actually get there quite that early, but good enough. We were the first ones at the little park where you can put in your boards or kayaks. We had barely even started out before we saw our first bunch of manatees.

First manatees.jpg

Because manatees are gentle, trusting creatures and humans are human rules have been put in place to ensure that the manatees are kept safe and unstressed.  The springs themselves are closed at certain times because there are so many manatees in there it’s not really a good idea to add us humans to the mix as well.  We got there at low tide though, before the manatees were able to get in the 3 Sister’s part of the springs.  So we could go in, we just had to leave the boards outside of the area.  No one else had walked in yet when we got there so I got to take a couple of pictures of the springs completely unpopulated. What a beautiful place!

Lonely Springs.JPG

The main rule is that you are not allowed to chase or hassle the manatees.  However, if you stay in one place long enough they will very likely come up to you to check you out.  There are always rangers and tour guides there, they will ensure you know and follow the rules.  The great thing about this is they are a wealth of knowledge. Be sure to take the time to talk to the rangers because they seem to know just about everything about manatees and lots about some of the individual manatees that are there.  Pretty awesome. One thing I learned is manatees like bright nail polish.  Good to know!

Well hello.JPG

 

Manatee Collage.jpg

The only downfall of the bring your own board approach is I don’t have enough boards for the kids, and ever since they saw my pictures they have been wanting to go.  My son prefers kayaking anyways, so next time we’ll most likely be renting. April’s getting here awfully quickly, so I better get a move on to plan the next trip!

 

 

Perceptions

You already know by the mere fact that I live in Florida that I do not love the cold.  But I do find it fascinating how a place can look cold.  I don’t mean like covered in snow and sleet, a bit more subtle that that.  Take a look at this picture.

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With the blue sky reflecting off the water and the green little palms in the foreground I don’t think it looks cold at all.  But look again.

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This picture was taken from the same spot not even a minute later, I just took a couple of steps forward and turned slightly to the right.  To me, this picture looks like it was taken in a place that was very cold.  Which it was if you count Florida cold as cold (I do).

I don’t know why but I find it fascinating that just turning a slight bit can give you such a different perception of the world.  I can’t help but compare it to people’s mental perception.  Ever wonder why some people seem to be upset and offended by such tiny little things?  I know that I do.

I always try to chalk it up to the fact that everyone has a different view of the world which depends on their lives so far and I think a little on the attitude that they fall into the easiest.  The thing I try to remember is that both perceptions are real, both pictures reflect unaltered reality. It’s not even a matter of what people choose to see, because you don’t have any way of knowing what you would see if you chose to go a little to the left or a little more to the right.

I guess the moral of the story is there is always another way of looking at the same thing.  The next time you are talking to someone and the two of you just can’t see eye to eye, instead of trying to change the other person’s mind try seeing their point of view or at least a view a step or two to the side of your own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s ON. Zombies and Colors.

So like 4 months ago I wrote a couple of posts about The 5K Zombie Run and out The 5K Color Blast.  They were both scheduled to happen November 14th at Lake Park. And then this:

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A sinkhole opened right near the entrance and the races (along with other events I don’t actually care about but other people do) had to be postponed until an evaluation could be done.  Said evaluation made it clear that the park had to be closed, indefinitely.  Hopefully they will be able to get the sinkhole fixed and re-open the park again soon.

But now, good news!  Both The 5K Zombie Run and The 5KColor Blast have been relocated and rescheduled for March 19th at Northwest Equestrian Park.  It’s just north of Citrus Park Mall, putting it very near where I work but I’ve never heard of it before.  I love finding new places!

Anyways, the timing is perfect for me.  I haven’t run consistently since the Spartan Race which was all the way back LAST February.  Sad, I know. Too many excuses to list, so I won’t.  But I am now over a string of random illnesses including a stupid stomach flu thing I think I am just over as of today, and positively jonesing to go for a run. Weird, I know.  The point is it’s been so long since I’ve done anything remotely like a workout that I decided to start all over with the Couch 2 5K plan again. I’m hoping to be able to skip ahead in it a bit. But seriously, I did a pretty mellow yoga routine the other day and stopped before it was done because I was tired.

But now, I have a goal!  I have zombies to avoid and colors to run through.  So March is perfect.

It seems they still have tickets available for the run, and not only for the Tampa run, both runs are also going to be held in Largo on February 27th!  Check out the races web sites for all of the details as far as times, registering, and bling.

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The 5K Zombie Run Tampa

The 5K Color Blast Tampa

The 5K Zombie Run St/ Pete/Clearwater (Largo)

The 5K Color Blast St/ Pete/Clearwater (Largo)

 

 

If you didn’t sign up before, you should totally sign up now.  These runs are fun, casual, and fun. Plus it’s always cool to support locals.  You don’t have to be able to run a 5K to run one of these, you just need to run when you see zombies. Especially if you see them in The 5K Color Blast.  Just saying.  You never know.

bling

You should also follow them on Facebook, because not only can you get up to date info on all of their runs, they post funny stuff when they aren’t sad about sink holes and maybe wondering why they don’t live in California.  (Because every other natural disaster). Here’s the link to The 5K Color Blast’s Facebook and The 5K Zombie Run’s Facebook.

Welcome.

Consistantly Doing Nothing

Hello world!  It’s me again.

I’ve been totally off line for a long while due to a series of unfortunate events.  My computer broke about 2 months ago and I don’t have the funds to get a new one.  My colitis came back, I got bronchitis, I coughed so much I pulled a muscle all the way around my right side so it hurt to breathe, and I’ve been working enough hours to fill in all the time I haven’t been sleeping. Well, trying to sleep.

But all my ills are working themselves out and I finally broke down and decided to write on my work computer.  Ya, probably bad karma but maybe I paid it in advance? Let’s hope so.

Oh, then my eldest shot my air conditioner with a dart the other day (letting out ALL of the freon, look up how much THAT shit costs) so now that winter has finally hit Florida I can’t run the heater. Did I mention I’m a huge cold wimp? Hopefully I get it fixed before it gets hot again, at least in the cold you can pile on clothes and blankets.

But, there is always a bright side.  I went to the humane society 2 weekends ago and got 2 bunnies.  Ya, I know, priorities. Don’t judge, they were a gift.  Charlie (the white one) and Corona hate each other with a passion, this bonding thing is turning out to be a wee bit more complicated that expected.  But I went in tonight and low and behold:

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Maybe, just maybe they won’t try to kill each other next time I let them meet without bars between them.  Or maybe they’re tricking me so they can get into round 2.  How would I know? At least they both get along with the cats and dogs.

So I’ve decided it’s time to stop moping about and time to get back to paddleboarding (if my wetsuit still fits), running and writing.  Plus I got a bicycle for Christmas and it’s about time I start using it!

So, here we go again….

🙂

 

 

 

 

Bourbon & Brew Grand Tasting 2015 Review

The Bourbon & Brew Grand Tasting was a REALLY good time. Just starting with that.
First and foremost – there WAS Brown Jug Bourbon Cream floats. And they were every bit as amazing as anticipated. They also had it mixed with coffee, which I could also live on. I actually went hunting at all of the open liquor stores near me trying to find a bottle to bring to Thanksgiving for floats, but I kind of live in the middle of nowhere, so no luck. But I’ll keep looking!  🙂

The other winner of the night? Jim Beam Honey. It’s good enough to sip but also great in a hot toddy or mixed with lemonade. Yes, I did find out about those two after buying a bottle after the tasting. I have found a new go-to drink.

 

You want this. #BourbonandBrew #jackdanielshoney

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I cannot claim to be a country girl or to be a big listener of country music, but the bands were great and the music set the perfect vibe.  I even bought and wore a cowboy hat, special for the occasion. Now I am busy looking for more excuses to wear it.

 

Got my hat for the #BourbonandBrew tasting! #loveFL #Tampa

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I ran into my niece and her other half there, which made everything that much more fun.  The fact that we were at Armature Works on Tampa’s Riverwalk didn’t hurt either, we were able to grab a drink and sit beside the stage while looking out at the lights reflecting on the water.  You really can’t beat it.

I have to say, changing things up by making this a ‘tasting’ instead of a festival was a great idea.  It was fun to be able to try so many different bourbons and moonshines and really cool that I was able to find a couple of new favorites.

Great Smoky Mountains

Have you ever gone somewhere that was so cool you knew you’d have to go back and then when you got home you realized that you didn’t know where you’d been? Well, me either. Much.  On my recent trip I stopped at the Great Smoky Mountains national Park. It was great, I totally plan on going back.  So I googled it just now and found out there’s like 5 of them and I have no idea which one I was at.

Lucky I got pictures.

2015_10_26_North Carolina trip5So what happened was…

We couldn’t find a truck stop but we saw a place that had lots of cars and probably a restroom so we stopped. There were a bunch of people looking at some turkeys and I was tired of being in the car so we went and looked too.  There was a flock (herd?) of turkeys walking around eating whatever they eat off the ground.  We have some in my neighborhood, but these were cooler.  After all, they were surrounded by fall leaves. Then I looked up and a couple hundred feet away was a herd of elk.  There was a dirt road leading that way and some people over looking at them so we went to see.  One of the elk came within a few feet of a lady, and as happy as she was about it I deemed going around the other side of the fence to look a better idea.  There’s just something about a huge wild animal whose butt is as high as my head that does not scream I want to pet that to me.

And then, this.

You can bet I took that video through a fence and with a plan to jump up into the hayloft thing behind me if needed.  It seems I was the most paranoid person there.  After we started walking back a park ranger came by and started telling the elk (who mostly ignored him yelling and waving his arms at them) to get back away from the dumb humans.

It seems the elk were the males that had been chased across the river by the bigger, badder elk over there and they were all a wee bit frustrated and ready to fight. The ranger said they had been charging people and cars. AND CARS. Time to go!