Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Friday Funnies

February 27th, 2015

The preacher was wired for sound with a lapel mike, and as he preached, he moved briskly about the platform, jerking the mike cord as he went. Then he moved to one side, getting wound up in the cord and nearly tripping before jerking it again. After several circles and jerks, a little girl in the third pew leaned toward her mother and whispered, “If he gets loose, will he hurt us?”

Six-year old Angie, and her four-year old brother, Joel, were sitting together in church. Joel giggled, sang and talked out loud. Finally, his big sister had had enough. “You’re not supposed to talk out loud in church.” “Why? Who’s going to stop me?” Joel asked. Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, “See those two men standing by the door? They’re hushers.”

My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, “Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?” I mentally polished my halo, while I asked, “No, how are we alike?” “You’re both old,” he replied.

A ten-year old, under the tutelage of her grandmother, was becoming quite knowledgeable about the Bible. Then, one day, she floored her grandmother by asking, “Which Virgin was the mother of Jesus? The virgin Mary or the King James Virgin?” (LOL!!)

A Sunday school class was studying the Ten Commandments. They were ready to discuss the last one. The teacher asked if anyone could tell her what it was. Susie raised her hand, stood tall, and quoted, “Thou shall not take the covers off the neighbor’s wife.”

Live life one day at a time and make it a masterpiece!

Lenten Roads: Wilderness Peace

February 24th, 2015

You will find peace and rest when you turn away from your sins and depend on me. You will receive the strength you need when you stay calm and trust in me. But you do not want to do what I tell you to. Isaiah 30:15

Last month I was devastated when a job in Florida, that I thought God had opened for me, was given to another person. It didn’t make sense. Friends and colleagues were as stunned as me. Hadn’t I read the Holy Spirit’s cues properly? “There’s no way you didn’t get this position,” one of my references said, comparing the other applicant’s credentials with mine. Some people wondered if something underhanded was going on; others believed that God must really need me somewhere else; some thought both.

And so I entered the wilderness of disappointment and waiting. I worked to stay positive by swimming, praying often, and reading scripture. One day, this Isaiah 30 verse jumped off the page at me, and I knew I was being spoken to. By God’s grace, my season of wilderness became a time of peace, trust and time renewing friendships.

Before long, a friend pointed me toward an opportunity in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan … in the winter. I knew this was His will for me at this time, but I didn’t want to accept it initially. Even so, I packed up my “tent,” moved 2000 miles north, and entered the blessing of being in God’s will and God’s time. Now I’m zestfully embracing the Yooper way of life.

Whenever I’ve been in the wilderness I’ve come to appreciate the time of rest following when I remember the Lord’s grace is always upon me if only I would depend on Him.

Maybe you’ve been in the wilderness, or you’re in the middle of the wilderness now. Be still and listen for His still small voice to give you guidance and peace. You’ll be glad you did.

Sunday in the Siberian Express

February 22nd, 2015

The arctic blast many of us are experiencing is expected to continue into next week. This “Siberian Express” is the reason I’ve chosen to stay inside this weekend. Experiencing hypothermia would not be a great adventure!

Sadly, hypothermia and car accidents related to winter road conditions have been blamed for the deaths of at least 20 people in the last week, and the “Siberian Express”, continues to push through the central and eastern parts of the U.S. even as I write this. The cold air mass has been traced to Siberia in Russia. It traveled 5,000 miles over the North Pole on its way to Canada, crossing into the United States all the way to the Gulf Coast. Therefore being referred to as the “Siberian Express”.

At least 500 daily record lows have been broken since last Sunday from Connecticut to Florida to as far west as Indiana, according to the National Weather Service. This amounts to more than 100 million Americans being affected by the arctic blast.

Not only in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but across the nation snow showers and freezing temperatures are creating ice-rink like conditions on the roads. If you do not absolutely have to go out, please stay home. Please be cautious if you have to go out and are either driving down the road or walking across a parking lot. The “Siberian Express” is a real threat and should be taken seriously. The health and safety of my friends and family is very important to me and this extreme weather can present real dangers.

Snowmobiles are the transportation of choice in Munising right now.

Snowmobiles are the transportation of choice in Munising right now. This photo was taken in a restaurant parking lot.

Likewise, snow day activities should also be taken seriously. Maybe bake a batch of cookies … wrap up in a warm blanket with a favorite book and a nice hot mug of tea or bowl of soup … throw in a movie. Do some T’ai Chi in the living room. Maybe take a nice hot bath and listen to music. Write a blog …

Whatever you do, be safe and have fun with it. I need to check on my biscuits.

Homemade biscuits and gravy are comfort food on a cold morning.

Homemade biscuits and gravy are comfort food on a cold morning.

 

Friday Funnies: Children in Church

February 20th, 2015

Perhaps these will keep you laughing today:

A little boy was in a relative’s wedding. As he was coming down the aisle, he would take two steps, Stop, and turn to the crowd. While facing the crowd, he would put his hands up like claws and roar. So it went, step, step, ROAR, step, step, ROAR, all the way down the aisle. As you can imagine, the crowd was near tears from laughing so hard By the time he reached the pulpit. When asked what he was doing, the child sniffed and said, “I was being the Ring Bear.”

A young child was “acting up” during the morning worship hour. The parents did their best to maintain some sense of order in the pew. But were losing the battle. Finally, the father picked the little fellow up And walked sternly up the aisle on his way out. Just before reaching the safety of the foyer, The little one called loudly to the congregation, “Pray for me! Pray for me!”

One particular four-year old prayed, “And forgive us our trash baskets As we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.”

A little boy was overheard praying: “Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am.”

A Sunday School teacher asked her little children, as they were on the way to church service, “And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?” One bright little girl replied, “Because people are sleeping.”

A little boy opened the big and old family Bible with fascination, Looking at the old pages as he turned them. Then something fell out of the Bible. He picked it up and looked at it closely. It was an old leaf from a tree that has been pressed in between the pages. “Mama, look what I found,” the boy called out..”What have you got there, dear?” his mother asked. With astonishment in the young boy’s voice he answered, “It’s Adam’s suit”.

Lenten Roads

February 18th, 2015

I wasn’t sure what direction to take the Ash Wednesday devotion and before I knew it I was reading poetry instead. True, however even that can offer divine inspiration.

Take, for example, Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. He speaks of two roads, he has to make a decision. One is well traveled and the other not so much. He decides to take other one, grassy and overgrown, later saying this choice of path has transformed his life.

It seems to me that Christians are also on a road. This one toward the will of God. During Lent and every day our path may be well-worn, may look hardly used, or may even appear neglected. We might be going down a road, but not one that leads us to the empty tomb and the good news of the resurrection. We may not be heading toward a life-giving encounter with the risen Jesus, but down a road of glitter, flashing lights, nostalgic memories, and the old sweet songs that we like to hear. We may be on the path of temptation, a path the world tells us will bring us happiness and joy.

The Road Not Taken beckons the reader away from the world’s path, offering a very different destination. We’re able to take this road full of challenges and temptations with courage and grace because we know that God is always with us. Where is God making a path for you?

Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173536

Sunday in Michigan

February 15th, 2015

Did I happen to mention I’m currently located on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? In the dead of winter? I had to shovel my way out of my cottage this morning, and got stuck in the driveway. I wasn’t about to let that stop me from getting out and exploring what the area has to offer. Artic temps can’t stop me!

The view I had from inside my cottage  before shoveling myself out this morning.

The view I had from inside my cottage before shoveling myself out this morning.

Granted, yesterday was a snow day and I had to remain indoors. However, the adventure I had in mind was for today, and it did not disappoint. I was standing at the UP200 finish line in Marquette waiting for the sled dogs with others as excited as I was.

UP200 Sled Dog Race finish line

UP200 Sled Dog Race finish line

The UP200 is one of the top 12-dog sled races in the Midwest. It covers 240 miles from Marquette to Grand Marias and back again through dense forest wilderness. Their mushers face hills, creek crossings, deep snow and white-out conditions. The teams are required a total of 16 hours of rest to be distributed however they choose between checkpoints. This is a true test of skill and stamina at the current below zero temps! The winning team was Ryan Anderson who walked away with the $7,200 purse. His dogs were beautiful and still had energy to spare. Truly amazing. http://www.up200.org

Ryan Anderson and his team cross the UP200 finish line

Ryan Anderson and his team cross the UP200 finish line

UP200 winning team 4 UP200 winning team 5 UP200 winning team 12

look at their little booties. That's all they had to protect their paws.

look at their little booties. That’s all they had to protect their paws.

The finish line was located just north of the ore dock in Marquette’s Mattson Lower Harbor Park. There were many families enjoying the sunny, albeit VERY cold day. The dogs arrived along the shoreline bike path that runs through the park. It was fun watching kids sled, attempt to build snowmen with dry snow and make a snow angel. During the summer months the City of Marquette uses the park for festivals and concerts.

Families sledding at Lower Harbor Park waiting for UP200 teams

Families sledding at Lower Harbor Park waiting for UP200 teams

Snow angel at Lower Harbor Park waiting for UP200 teams

Snow angel at Lower Harbor Park waiting for UP200 teams

Boat dry docked at Marquette Lower Harbor Park

Boat dry docked at Marquette Lower Harbor Park

While I was waiting for the dogs to come in I amused myself taking photos, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the ore dock. It’s very interesting to look at. By the 1890’s Michigan was the largest supplier of iron ore in the United States. The Marquette dock was used for trains to load ore onto ships which would then carry it to the lower Great Lakes. As it stands, the ore dock is an impressive 1200 feet long; 75 feet high; and 60 feet wide. Four railroad tracks ran across the top and there was storage space inside the bottom concrete part for 60,000 tons of iron ore.

Marquette Ore Dock 1

After Ryan Anderson and his team pulled in I went into town for a bite before driving home. I pulled into Donkers because it is known for the homemade caramels as well as using local, all-natural ingredients. The food was good, but the 85-yr old local gentleman that asked to sit beside me was absolutely fascinating. Phil Niemisto was born in Marquette, raised in the local orphanage and still works today cleaning windows to keep his town clean.

Dockers Restaurant

Dockers Restaurant

Philip Niemisto, local Marquette character and historian

Philip Niemisto, local Marquette character and historian

On the way home I couldn’t help taking photos of the heavily snow laden trees. I know my northern readers have seen it all before, but this is still enchanting to me. I also drove past the Munising Front Range Lighthouse. This, along with the Munising Rear Range Lighthouse work together to guide boats from the open waters of Lake Superior down the East Channel next to Grand Island into the harbor of Munising. These days the Munising harbor is full of ice fishing shelters.

Marquette Trees 1

Munising Front Range Lighthouse

Munising Front Range Lighthouse

Munising snowmobile road onto Lake Superior to their fish houses

Munising snowmobile road onto Lake Superior to their fish houses

I hope this week you keep warm, keep your eyes and hearts open and your feet moving.

Christ’s Joy Was You

February 14th, 2015

Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us. Ephesians 5:2

As you celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, think about Christ’s loving joy for us. Love isn’t simply red hearts, bouquets of flowers and chocolates. (Though I’m sure nobody would complain) True love is unconditional. True love reaches out. True love gives itself sacrificially.

Perhaps you have a special loved one you’re celebrating today with. Or perhaps today is one of the loneliest days of the year for you. Perhaps you’re wondering if anyone is thinking about you. The answer is yes. Jesus thought about you back then. He thought about you as He stood trial and His love for you kept Him focused on the goal: to reconcile you to God. He did all this to show His love … eternally.

Today, remember that you are Christ’s joy. His beloved. And have a very happy Valentine’s Day.

Where in the world is Wilbur?

February 11th, 2015

I am a self-proclaimed, quintessential Florida east coast beach lover. Sunrises with sand between my toes. Warm, moist salt infused breezes playing with my hair. Pelicans flying overhead. That’s my thing.

So any visit to Michigan would understandably get me excited thinking about visiting my family, right? But that’s not where I was headed for this assignment. My destination was Munising, in the central section of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a remote finger of land surrounded by enormous (currently frozen) Lake Superior. Fun fact – Lake Superior is the world’s largest fresh water lake, containing 10% of the world’s fresh water. Yes, the WORLD.

This is going be a new experience for me, but then again the most important lesson in traveling is to leave your inhibitions at the door, and that’s just what I intend to do. Where is Munising? Fun fact – Munising is the snowmobile capital and the UP boasts more than 3,000 miles of groomed trails. That equates to snowmobiling from Orlando, Florida to Seattle, Washington! Click to find out: http://www.exploremunising.com/getting-here/

The “UP” is a mix of dense forest, lakes, rivers and quaint towns with more trees than people. Great. The “Yoopers” (full-time residents) assure me there’s no shortage of winter activities and sights to fill my time and blog. Fun fact – The word Yooper was first published in 1979 and added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2014.

With an incredible amount of love and pride, locals talk about their go-to comfort food, the Pastie. You can’t visit the UP without eating a pastie. These meat pies are generously sized and packed with seasoned meat and veggies. Cornish and Finnish miners who immigrated during the cooper rush of the 1800’s brought this food with them. It served as a quick handheld meal for the miners who couldn’t leave the mines to eat. Pasties are a staple in the UP, and today you can try a wide variety of fillings from original with beef/onions/rutabaga to vegetarian flavors. One is enough to feed two people!

Jean Kays Pasties in Marquette, Michigan

Jean Kays Pasties in Marquette, Michigan

Original style pastie

Original style pastie

The UP has more than 100 waterfalls, and those are the only ones that have been noted on the state map. I choose local Munising Falls, one of the areas larger falls, for my first hike. The hike in was like walking into an enchanted winter wonderland. Suddenly the falls appeared before me. It drops about 50’ and during the winter the falls freeze into a beautiful ice column. Ice climbing if off-limits at this falls, but is popular in the area where ice climbing is permitted. I’ll stick to taking photos.

Posing with Munising Falls

Posing with Munising Falls

Munising Falls creek

Munising Falls creek

Entering the woods

Entering the woods

The boardwalk follows a spring fed creek

The boardwalk follows a spring fed creek

Walking through the silent woods

Walking through the silent woods

Approaching the falls

Approaching the falls

Munising Falls and exposed cliffs

Munising Falls and exposed cliffs

Munising Falls

Munising Falls

Looking up the frozen 50 foot drop

Looking up the frozen 50 foot drop

Munising Falls frozen base

Munising Falls frozen base

On the way home I decided to stop at locally owned Falling Rock Café and bookstore for a quick lunch. It’s situated only a couple blocks from my cottage, and offers good food & hot beverages. The BBQ chicken sandwich I had today was fantastic. I’ll be back to peruse the stacks and nosh again before the months pass. http://www.fallingrockscafe.com

Falling Rocks Café & Bookstore, Munising

Falling Rocks Café & Bookstore, Munising

Wherever you are, go in peace, stay warm and eat well.

 

 

Farewell to Palm Beach County

February 8th, 2015

My time in Palm Beach County has come to an end with the second week being nearly as exciting as the first.

Monday I met with my photographer friend Paul Polisena and his lovely wife Valli for a special one-on-one pool instruction. It was a superb Florida morning to be in the pool. After lunch with them, I stopped and visited my friend Richie before driving by The Boy’s Farmer’s Market. The Boy’s Farmer’s Market is known for offering the highest quality produces and meats. They’re also known for being very busy, so get there early before the crowds. Everything from the bakery cheeses and prepared foods are excellent. (http://boysfarmersmarket.com)

Vallie Polisena and me in the pool.

Vallie Polisena and me in the pool.

Angelic skies overhead

Angelic skies overhead

Tuesday I was able to spend more time with Bill. Though we originally planned to walk around the Dreher Park Zoo, we were short on time and instead walked with his son at Green Cay. We had an amazing array of birds to choose from, including all 8 species of heron, and my first alligator sighting of the year! Green Cay Nature Center covers 100 acres of constructed wetlands and features 1.5 miles of elevated boardwalk featuring interpretive signs about the habitat, making it a perfect setting for painters to set up easels.

Very shy Least Bittern

Very shy Least Bittern

Painter set up at Green Cay

Painter set up at Green Cay

There’s a more established wetlands nearby called Wakotahatchee Wetlands which features ¼ mile of elevated boardwalk. The name Wakotahatchee is Seminole indian for “created waters”. Both wetlands are examples of using nature as a natural filteration system while supporting the local ecosystem. All that and both are wonderful places to get exercise and sun. See photos from previous visits here: http://emiling.com/photos/wakodahatchee-wetlands/

It was an easy drive to Bedner’s after Green Cay. My other favorite, family run farmer’s market, Bedner’s, is hands on farmers dedicated to offering the community high quality produce. And has succeeded since 1960. The store front is conveniently located right outside the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge. So after you get hungry bird/alligator watching you can purchase produce for the week as you leave. http://www.bedners.com

I had stopped by Bedner’s for some boiled peanuts. I had passed on them at the South Florida fair and didn’t want to leave without having some. I ended up finding them at the Race Trac filling station. Boiled peanuts are sold at the fair, gas stations, farmers markets and on the side of the road from the back of pick up trucks. I won’t find them in Michigan, that’s for certain. Funny story: My first experience with boiled peanuts was in Yesteryear Village at the South Florida fair. I asked the man for one and he gave me a sample. I popped the entire peanut in my mouth and decided to order some. He failed to tell me to shell it first, and I was still eating it thinking it was alright. GOOD GRIEF! Somebody saw me and was thoughtful enough to tell me how to eat them and, they’re better shelled. LOL

Boiled Peanuts at Race Trac

Boiled Peanuts at Race Trac

The Breakfast Shack in Boynton claims to make “… the absolute best breakfast you will ever eat”. That sounded like a fun challenge, so Wednesday morning I joined my friend Mike to test them out. It is such a joy to share conversation over a good stack of pancakes! It was a good breakfast.

Mike Paschkes and Me

Mike Paschkes and Me at Breakfast Shack

As if that wasn’t enough, I went on to join my dear friend Irina for a trip to both Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus in Boca for afternoon tea and girl talk followed by dinner Café Frankie’s in Boynton Beach with Howard. Howard has been kind enough to open his home to me while I’ve been in Florida, so I wanted to take him somewhere special to me. It’s easily my favorite classic Italian restaurant and never lets me down. Frankie’s is a must for quality and quantity of delicious Italian fare. I fell asleep cherishing each and every one of today’s meals and conversations. (http://www.cafefrankies.com/)

Enchanting view at Bloomindale's approaching their Petrossian Rendez-vous Café.

Enchanting view at Bloomindale’s approaching their Petrossian Rendez-vous Café.

My movie partner and current landlord, Howard Lubin

My movie partner and current landlord, Howard Lubin

By Thursday I needed to rest. I knew what long days I had ahead of me. It was a good idea because Friday morning I hit the ground running. First to the YMCA pool for one last deep water class. Then I was off to the salon before meeting Jodi, my recruiter, at Las Fajitas. It was delightful to finally meet Jodi in person. Thank you Jodi for taking time out of your day to join me for lunch.

Club staffing recruiter Jodi Pascuzzi and me over lunch at Las Fajitas.

Club staffing recruiter Jodi Pascuzzi and me over lunch at Las Fajitas.

I have been eating at this small, family run Mexican restaurant for 13 years. They keep the menu simple, authentic and the ingredients fresh. And, yes, I love it when I walk into a restaurant and they remember me. It’s another very busy venue, so get there early if you want a table. If you arrive late, it’s worth the wait. (www.lasfajitas.com)

From there I worked my way north visiting friends for one last time … William, Irina, John, Maria and Mike. Irina and Maria, I’m sorry you weren’t at home when I came by. Lenny, all I can say is we tried. Mike took me to Jacob’s for a last dinner where I ate tongue for the first time in my life! It doesn’t take like chicken. LOL The service was friendly and attentive.

At that moment I could never have guessed who was waiting for me Saturday morning at the class in Miami. Lo and behold my lab partner Nick from college 4 years ago was sitting at one of the tables! This was such a pleasant shock. It felt like being back in school together without missing a beat and laughing.

Lab partners reunited

Lab partners reunited

Florida = world class friends + world class food. Thank you to each of you for creating new memories to keep me warm in the upcoming months.

 

Mission of Compassion

February 6th, 2015

… pray for each other that you may be healed. James 5:16

I’ve found that if I visit with any of my friends long enough eventually conversation leads to the white elephant in the country. Racial tension. Why is it everyone wants an opinion from someone else? Are so many people afraid of standing up and saying we need peace, stop the madness?

Tensions definitely escalated, and communities divided, when riots broke out last November. Since that time, incidents of racial tension has risen in the United States. When a race-infused conflict makes the news, or is portrayed in movies, many people find it very easy to choose a side to blame and then, like an armchair quarterback, do nothing more then spew opinions across social media for reaction sake. But doing nothing isn’t a biblical response. The Bible commands us to take action: “Pursue the things which make for peace”.

It’s not possible to solve a country’s deep-rooted problems by yourself in a prayer meeting, though I encourage each of you to pray often for the leaders of our country. But God can use each and every one of us to touch many hearts and plant seeds of kindness, love and understanding in our individual communities. Each of us can take action and change hearts by sharing ours. You never know how God will use the seed you plant to bear lasting fruit. The rewards of peace are many.

Friendship

February 4th, 2015

A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17

When I was planning my return to West Palm Beach I packed, and prepared for my short, yet exciting, stay. At the top of my list was reuniting with good friends and not wanting to miss time with anyone. Maturity has taught me friendships are wonderful gifts to our lives straight from God.

Once I was settled in I made calls and scheduled lunches and dinners. Once together we discussed at length the many joys and challenges of the past year, and cheered each other on for upcoming events. Believe me, if you need a listening ear, a friend who is walking the same path is a great place to turn.

If you’re bursting with news about something the Lord has done in your life, an answer to prayer, a long-awaited blessing, a surprising provision, you don’t want to spill the beans to just anyone. No. You want to tell somebody who will get it. A friend who will say, “Praise God! I’m so happy for you!” We all need a friend who will listen without judgment and offer wise counsel because they’ve been there, done that, or is there right now.

In the past year I faced a challenge that not only challenged me, but challenged my friendships. Thankfully, I am blessed with wonderful friends that have offered support and who in turn allowed me to support them through their adversities. If you need someone to listen and empathize with you, consider a friend you know who could use that same kind of support. When encouragement flows both directions and honors the Lord, you’re building a friendship that will go the distance.

Friends are a gift and one of the many ways God takes care of us. We need all the things friendship offers such as encouragement, companionship, love, honesty, loyalty, and understanding. Do you know a friend that could benefit from an encouraging word today, or draw from your well of experience?

This post is dedicated to my dearest and closest friends that I’ve been fortunate enough to have been blessed with. Thank you.

 

 

 

Week 1 in Palm Beach County

February 1st, 2015

Did you hear what happened to me this week? I’m amazed at how many visits with friends start out that way and decided to try it. My friend’s lives are never dull and each person has a story to tell. The following is the story of my first week back in Florida after leaving Reno.

Monday I arrived at the Palm Beach International Airport only to be picked up by my host and whisked directly off to the movie theater for the premier of Jude Law’s Black Sea. (http://emiling.com/black-sea/)

Tuesday I woke bright and early with anticipation of going to the YMCA pool. Oh, that was fabulous! By the time I joined my friend Bill for a stroll around The Morikami Japanese Museum & Garden (http://emiling.com/photos/morikami-museum-japanese-gardens-delray-beach-florida) I was fully exhilarated. At The Morikami Japanese Garden I experience peace and tranquility like being on the beach without sand between my toes. The Morikami provides authentic Japanese events year round and is worth going out of your way to visit if you’re in the area. When you go, if you don’t eat at their café, drive across the street to Henry’s for a classic lunch in a very comfortable setting. You’ll be glad you did! (http://www.rapoportsrg.com/restaurant/henrys/)

With my friend Bill in our "happy place" at the Morikami.

With my friend Bill in our “happy place” at the Morikami.

And because I didn’t want to miss a thing, I joined a group of movie friends for the premier of Kingsman: The Secret Service. Great action movie. You can read my review at: http://emiling.com/kingsman-secret-service

Wednesday I ready for some beach time and drove south to Boca to meet with my friend William. Not only did I put my feet in the Atlantic, but I was treated to a plate of melt-in-your-mouth fried chicken livers at Fran’s Chicken Haven. Oh, had I missed these! Cooked to order and right out of the fryer, hot and fresh, the batter was just enough to crisp up nicely. Fran’s livers are in my top 5 favorite foods and the sounds I make eating them are nearly indecent. That’s how good they are!

Fran's Chicken Haven

Fran’s Chicken Haven

Imagine being on the beach with a good friend. Life is good.

Imagine being on the beach with a good friend. Life is good.

Of course, a trip to Fran’s is only as good as driving across the street to Chocolates by Mr. Robert. I can’t have one without the other when I’m in Boca. I started purchasing the chocolate when Mr. Robert was still living. He was born in Vienna and studied the craft of making chocolate in Switzerland. The same recipes are used today and my purchase was gone before I got home. It never fails. (http://www.chocolatesbymrroberts.com/index.htm)

Chocolates by Mr. Roberts

Chocolates by Mr. Roberts

To walk off the calories, we stopped by the beach and at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center to take the boardwalk through the mangroves. Started in 1984, Gumbo Limbo is a free nature center, but it’s unique because of the various tanks and turtle hospital used for research and educational purposes. Yet another favorite haunt in Palm Beach County. It one of my favorite places to take visitors. You can climb the tower to see both the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal. (http://www.gumbolimbo.org/about-us) I had passes for the premier of Project Almanac, but thought sleep was a better option at this point.

Boca Raton Gumbo Limbo boardwalk 2

Gumbo Limbo life size sea turtles

Gumbo Limbo life size sea turtles

Thursday I spent swimming and visiting with friends literally from one end of the county to the other. I am so fortunate to have several true friends that have remained with me over the past year even though I’ve been traveling. It’s humbling to sit at their tables and share their generosity. Thank you to each of you, and you know who you are. One of my special friends treated me to dinner at La Cigale in Delray. I was delighted by the elegance and quality of the meal. Thank you Mike for sharing the experience with me. (http://www.lacigaledelray.com/page.asp?display=Restaurant)

By Friday the week was winding down and so was the South Florida Fair. I could not possibly be in Palm Beach County, in January, without visiting the fair. It wouldn’t be right! Bill took me to pet the bunnies and chickens, watch calves being born, eat a turkey leg the size of a California Redwood … then walk it off at Yesterday Year Village so I can go home with a half-dozen deep fried Buckeye’s.

If you aren’t familiar, Buckeye’s are peanut butter balls covered in chocolate. To deep fry them, they are dipped in funnel cake batter, fried and coated with powered sugar. ONCE a year only. There’s a theme each year, this year the giant sand sculpture was Las Vegas. Somehow I missed the pig races AND the alligator wrestling. Weird. (http://www.southfloridafair.com/ and photos at http://emiling.com/photos/south-florida-fair/)

Riding Kraft Macaroni and Cheese ferris wheel at the South Florida Fair

Riding Kraft Macaroni and Cheese ferris wheel at the South Florida Fair

Still feeling a need to work off those Buckeye’s I decided to call Pam and go kayaking Saturday morning. We rented Kayaks and stayed in the Intracoastal due to wind conditions. We saw a crab and a giant blue heron, but no manatees or gators. No worries, I saw a black bear on the way to my girlfriend Irina’s house later in the day. Irina set up a VERY special, traditional multi-course Russian dinner for me and invited her family. I was a bit overwhelmed at the effort she made. To say thank you doesn’t seem adequate.

Last course to be served with coffee

Last course to be served with coffee

First course of chilled offerings.

First course of chilled offerings.

Fun with Pam at Adventure Time Kayaks

Fun with Pam at Adventure Time Kayaks

After falling into a food induced coma, I woke Sunday in time to join friends at both the St. John Missionary Church as well as the First United Methodist before meeting my friend John for lunch at Toojay’s Gourmet Deli in exchange for updating his computer. A classic chopped liver on rye seemed a fair price. Toojay’s is also famous for their black and white cookies, but I’m too full to think about it. I settled for a choclate rugala to go. (http://www.toojays.com/)

Toojay's Gourmet Deli bakery counter

Toojay’s Gourmet Deli bakery counter

It’s back to the pool for me first thing Monday morning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.