Date Day With The Parentals

This past week, my folks drove all the way from the icy reaches of Pennsylvania  to our humble abode in sunny South Florida.  I took a day off work to spend a little time with them and we found some fun things to do.

First of all, we took them to Grassy Waters Preserve.  It’s a wetland preserve that both Mr. R. and I pass twice every day as we go to and from work.  We probably take the folks there every time they visit because you’re always guaranteed to see a gator or three.

This time, however, we were going to see an art exhibit by The Highwaymen, an event that has been advertised out by the entrance all month.  Here’s a link to a promotional video for the exhibit.

The Highwaymen is the collective name for a group of African-American artists who painted Florida landscapes starting in the 50s.  According to a sign at the exhibit, during that time an African-American farm day-laborer could expect to earn between $5 and $10 per day.  These artists could sell a painting for $25 to $35 each.  Which became a huge economic incentive for these guys to paint as many pictures as they could, often selling them while they were still wet.

However, don’t assume that because they were hastily done they were inferior in quality.  As I looked over the paintings on display, I was struck by the beauty, by the contrasting light and shadow, by the amazing colors.  We ended up buying a signed copy of the official poster of this year’s event, a painting done of Grassy Waters.

After we left there, we toodled around for a while before we ended up at the brand new, just opened Manatee Lagoon Discovery Center at the FP&L plant in Riviera Beach.  Manatees are drawn to warm water, especially on cold days, and the power plant puts warm water into the Intracoastal Waterway.  People have shown up for years to glimpse these gentle creatures.  FP&L finally realized that rather than fighting it, they should accommodate the curious animal lovers and so they built this terrific discovery center with a two-level observation deck.  Oh, and there’s a gift shop.

It was a cool day so it was a good bet that we’d see manatees.  And we weren’t disappointed.  I kept snapping pictures, unable to see my screen because the sun was so bright.

There are times when the lagoon is packed with the critters literally body to body, but the folks were thrilled by their first glimpse of manatees in the wild.

We ended our outing with dinner at Duffy’s on Clematis.  It was a great day to skip work and hang out with loved ones.

April Fool’s

Yesterday, Opinionated Man posted a hilarious April Fool’s piece on his blog HarsH ReaLiTy wherein he said that it would be his final post on WordPress. He would henceforth be writing a column for Cosmo on relationships and marriage.

imageAfter I recovered from gales of laughter, I recalled one of my all-time favorite April Fool’s pranks.  One fine spring day as I headed to work, a commercial came on the radio.  In a basso profundo voice, an announcer said, “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!  At Moroso Motorsports Park…It’s bullfighting!”

What the…? I thought.  Moroso Motorsports Park is a drag strip.  Where in the world would they…?  Why in the world would they…?  The radio announcer went on to say that the best matadors in all of Spain would be demonstrating their skill and bravery, “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday at Moroso Motorsports Park.”

I shook my head in disbelief.  That’s so weird.  Who’s going to the drag strip to see bullfighting?  Then came one final detail.  “The Spanish national anthem will be performed by Enrique Iglesias.”  My mouth popped open.  It’s April first!  I laughed hysterically all the way to work.  But the fun didn’t end there.

Turns out I wasn’t the only one who heard that commercial.  A bunch of PETA-types lost their ever-loving minds.  There were calls to the radio station and protests were organized.  How dare anybody think they’re going to bring bullfighting to Palm Beach County?!

When they finally understood that it was an April Fool’s joke, their official comment was that, “It’s not funny.”

wpid-screenshot_2015-04-01-19-56-18-1.pngOoooohhh, yes it is.

Friday Eve

You know, if you think of Thursday as ‘Friday Eve,’ it seems more like the weekend.  I’ll keep telling myself that, anyway.  That means it’s almost Date Night.

Mr. R. and I are attending a wedding on Saturday.  I’ve been kind of excited about it.  Who doesn’t love an an excuse to get all gussied up?  We couldn’t remember the when and the where so I dug out the invitation the other day.  Here’s the thing:  The service is at 2:30.  And the reception is at 6:00.  That’s an awfully long time.  I hadn’t planned on committing to a whole day for this thing.  Sigh.

I was thrilled by an opportunity we had for Sunday.  We were invited by one of Mr. R.’s work contacts to share a table at a fund-raiser for Big Dog Ranch Rescue, the largest no-kill animal shelter in Florida.

The event is called Wine, Women, & Shoes and it’s being held at Mar-a-Lago, the opulent Palm Beach estate-turned-resort of Donald Trump.  Jimmy Choo is the official shoe sponsor.  What’s not to love about this?

The problem is that Mr. R. works on Sunday.  I suppose it’s just as well.  It would be rough hitting the work week having been out all weekend.

I’ll keep telling myself that.  Just like I’ll keep calling today Friday eve.

Date Day Saturday–Priorities, People!

Mr. R. and I had date ‘day’ Saturday rather than date night on Friday.  That’s because on Friday, Mr. R. was feeling a little under the weather.  Why not go out on Saturday night, you ask?  Well, because Sprint Cup racing was in Bristol AND the Dolphins were playing on Saturday night.  Priorities, people!

So we found ourselves out on Saturday afternoon running a few errands and with the general intention of stopping somewhere along the way to celebrate date ‘day’.  After errands, we made a couple of stops to appreciate the beautiful, if hot, afternoon (it is August in South Florida, after all).  We stopped along A1A and went down to the beach to snap a few photos of the amazing blue water.  We progressed to Jupiter Inlet to watch the boats for a while.  Finally, we realized we were ready to find some grub.

After kicking around a few possibilities, Mr. R. took us to one of my absolute favorite places, Guanabanas.  We had considered it last week but passed on it due to inclement weather.  Understand, ALL seating at Guanabanas is outside.  It’s on the Jupiter River on the west side of US 1 in Jupiter.  The place is utterly beautiful, all lush tropical gardens, tiki huts, tables right by the water. But Guanabanas has something else going for it besides its gorgeous setting:  their incredible food.  They use fresh, local ingredients as much as possible.  All their seafood is certified ‘Fresh from Florida.’  They use locally grown produce, and they even source the hot sauce on the tables from Palm Beach Gardens.  That attention to detail is apparent in the flavor of their food.

We chose a high-top table in the bar area, where often they feature live music, ranging from great local musicians to national acts like Natasha Beddingfield and Rob Thomas, although all was quiet on Saturday afternoon.  Be forewarned, if you sit in the bar area, you can only order from the left side of the menu (appetizers, sandwiches, etc.).  If you’d rather have a proper entree, you have to sit in the dining area.  The good news there is that the regular dining tables are next to the water, where in all likelihood you’ll watch kayaks and paddle boards go by as you enjoy the view of the river and mangroves. 

They offer a nice Happy Hour, too, but Mr. R. and I were about an hour early for that.  No matter, I knew what I wanted and promptly ordered the Cat 5, their spin on a traditional hurricane.  It is yummy, delicious, and more importantly on a hot day, marvelously cold.  Mr. R. settled for a Diet Coke. 

Foodwise, we started with the fish dip.  It was absolutely enjoyable, local fresh-caught fish, pureed and mixed with a savory smoky dressing.  For lunch, I ordered the spicy shrimp wrap while Mr. R. had the Cuban sandwich.  My wrap was amazingly tasty, and served with a side salad of mixed greens and their signature vinaigrette.  Mr. R.’s Cuban sandwich (which was delicious, I tasted it) came with Guanabanas’ fresh-made lightly seasoned wavy potato chips. 

We can’t recommend Guanabanas highly enough.  It’s everything I love about a restaurant:  local, beautiful setting, great food, friendly staff.  Next time you want a casual place to eat or have a cocktail, Guanabanas is for you.

A Fabulous Saturday

wpid-20140719_145147.jpg

Don’t you love those days when you have no real plan or scheme but it turns out to be one of  the best days you’ve spent in a long time?

Mr. R. and I spent a fabulous afternoon at the beach yesterday.  We were in no rush or hurry, sleeping in and getting started slowly.

“Do you want to go to the beach?” Mr. R. asked.

“Yes, let’s,” I agreed.  We spent a few minutes gathering up all the essentials: towels, chairs, umbrella, cooler, sunblock, tossed it all in the truck, and headed east.

Twenty minutes later we were cruising up US 1 in Juno Beach north of the pier and south of the Jupiter Inlet.  Mr. R. spied a vacant parking spot and began to attempt to parallel park, soon realizing that the F150 was not going to fit.  We were in luck, though, because the family parked in front of the vacant spot were preparing to leave.

We watched in an amused, superior sort of way as the husband spazzed at his wife about his towel or some other irritation.  It was then that Mr. R. realized he knew the guy from work and said hello.  We exchanged a few pleasantries before they sheepishly drove away and we achieved the prime parking spot directly adjacent to the beach access.  Score!

Once on the beach we set ourselves up in a nice spot sufficiently spaced away from other beach-goers and we proceeded to continue our relaxing day.  Although it was hot, the gentle breeze and calm clear water made for an absolutely perfect beach day.  My only complaint was the excess of seaweed junking up the sand, as evidenced in the photos.  The calm water created what I like to call a “noodle day,” meaning that the water is calm enough to take a pool noodle out and simply float peacefully, which is what I did.

Confidentially, I harbor an irrational (or not) fear of something toothy biting me in the ocean so I never go out in the water alone.  As Mr. R. loves me more than life itself, he is exceedingly understanding of my terror and (mostly) stays with me in the water.  Having spent our first half hour relaxing on the sand, we entered the water and reveled in simply floating and bobbing on the gentle swells.

At one point a couple of guys just up the beach from us headed out onto the water on their kite boards and before we knew it, said kite boards were crisscrossing over our heads, which was cool, if a little scary.  Once back on the beach we took some pictures, but we have determined that we need a GoPro to make our lives complete.

wpid-20140719_153006.jpg

After returning to the sand to dry out a little, we realized that we had no idea of the time and couldn’t care less.  It was that kind of day.  Ultimately, we must have spent three or four hours on the beach, finally deciding to leave because we were ready to find something to eat.

Mr. R. began to name potential sources of sustenance.  Nothing struck my fancy until he mentioned C.R. Chicks.

cr chicks

C.R. Chicks is a local company (duh, have we met?!) which now has seven locations from Jupiter to Boca.  Their flagship location is on Northlake Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens, which is where we went.  The company is called C.R. Chicks because the owners are Chris Sallen and Rick Davis, but it’s also a pun because you can actually ‘see their chicks’ in the front window, roasting over a wood fire.  The smell is heavenly!  I can highly recommend anything on their menu.

The Chicken Breast Sandwich is amazing.  It’s served on their fresh-made bread with lettuce and tomato so delicious, I’ve often thought that I could enjoy the lettuce and tomato sandwich even minus the chicken.

However, yesterday Mr. R. opted for the homemade chicken pot pie (which was so huge he ended up taking half of it to work today for his lunch) while I had the “Smokie.”

When you go to C.R. Chicks, you’ll soon realize that everything on the menu has a nickname.  The “Smokie” is listed on the menu as “Smoked Chicken with Penne Pasta.”  How do you describe it?

You’d probably start with OMG.  You have large chunks of smoked chicken breast, tender penne pasta, an amazing tomato basil cream sauce, and shredded romano cheese to tie it all together.

Don’t forget to get a loaf of their bread, because burying your face in the plate after all the pasta is gone so you can lick off all the remaining sauce is just tacky.  Or so I’ve been told.  Whatever!

Even though it was not a date night per se, Mr. R. and I had a wonderful time spending time together, and I suppose that’s the point.  I can’t wait for the next adventure.

Much Ado About Nothing–Last Four Performances

wpid-img_352060201657434.jpeg

The final four performances of the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festivals production of Much Ado About Nothing are tonight through Sunday night.  If you haven’t yet toddled on out to Jupiter’s Carlin Park, you should absolutely do so.  Mr. R. and I took the folks, my 23-year-old son, and our 6-year-old niece on opening night last week and everyone loved the show. 

Below is the link to the Palm Beach Post’s review.  Note to self: In any reviews I write, I will seek to avoid personal insults and stick with the facts at hand.  Is the word “rotund” really necessary?  Anyway, for your perusing pleasure:

http://www.pbpulse.com/news/entertainment/lead-performers-propel-this-much-ado-at-fest-in-ju/ngfnN/

I believe I just reviewed a review.  Hmmm…

It’s Much Ado By the Sea

It’s July, and that means Shakespeare by the Sea.  This year the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival is presenting Much Ado About Nothing the next two weekends (July 10-13 & July 17-20) at the Seabreeze Amphitheatre at Carlin Park in Jupiter. 

Mr. R. and I look forward to attending Shakespeare by the Sea every year.  Several of our friends are once again in the cast, and we know for a fact this will be a phenomenal production.  Sadly, last year we missed Coriolanus because every time we thought we’d go the weather was exceedingly uncooperative and a few performances were even cancelled due to dangerous lightning.  Our fingers are crossed for great weather this time. 

The gates open at 6:30 and the show starts at 8:00.  This is a fabulous free event ( a “love offering” will be collected for those so inclined with a $5 suggested donation) and great for the whole family or for date night with your sweet.  You’re invited to bring beach chairs, blankets, a picnic dinner, wine–everything you need for a romantic evening out.  There aren’t tickets so remember, the earlier you get there, the better your seats. 

Hope I’ve piqued your interest.  “Bait the hook well; this fish will bite.”–Much Ado About Nothing