Category Archives: Local Events

Atomic Christmas Weekend

My big household accomplishment for the weekend was getting the tree up.

And today I got paid to go to the kookiest, funkiest, liveliest, funniest “mother truckin’ craft show” and one of my personal favorites for all those adjectives just listed: The Atomic Holiday Bazaar.  I tried my best to leave with nothing more than a lot of notes but couldn’t leave this silly T-shirt on the hanger when it suits my boy-genius brother so well (one of three brothers who don’t read my blog so no spoilers here).

Sarasota Tough Mudder 2012

I covered it, “Tough” challenge mixed mud, sweat and beers, but my brother raced in it!

And he’s still walking today!  Impressive, especially to someone like me.  This sticker on the car next to mine pretty much sums up my thoughts on the subject.

{this moment} Marina Jack II Sunset Dinner Cruise

Not bad for having to work on a Friday night.

Photos on Spotted…article to follow. Published November 14, 2012

Sarasota Chalk Festival after a Shower

Today was the last day of the Chalk Festival, so despite the morning’s downpour, my niece and I were willing to puddle jump our way down Pineapple Avenue for one last look.  So glad we did.  Although slightly weathered and faded from the rain, the art was still shining under the afternoon sun.  This year’s theme was “Circus City, USA.”

For a before and after look at the artwork, check out my sister’s blog.  She posted a picture of this lion in all its psychedelic pre-rain glory.

Buddy Walk 2012

For the eleventh time, it was a great Buddy Walk!  The last I checked, Manasota BUDS raised nearly $70,000.  And as for Ella, she was surrrounded by adoring friends and family.  Her little brother, Dylan, is surely hoarse tonight after the countless chants of Ella Bella Buddies, Ella Bella Buddies


Lotus Festival Leftovers

Yesterday’s assignment for the newspaper was the Lotus Festival—in one word, yay!  I spent two hours touching, looking, eating, drinking, and talking lotus and various other water plants.  The only problem was that the information in my notebook far exceeded my 15-inch article allotment.

For one, water lilies were as big of a draw for the festival as lotuses and the only flower you’ll see a picture of here on Lettuce Share or over at the Herald-Tribune.  Debby Downer strikes again; the pounding rains damaged a lot of leaves and blooms. Marilyn Eigsti, owner of Wonderful Water Lilies, holds this plus a Tropical Water Lily and Spring Festival annually in her backyard/the prettiest nursery I’ve ever seen.  And from what the crowd said, a few of which drove over from Naples, Eigsti is the only person to buy water lilies and lotuses from because of the variety and quality she offers. The number one tip I picked up on buying these particular plants: don’t buy them from Home Depot.  The national chain sells varieties that won’t grow in Florida.  You need a local, but no worries because Wonderful Water Lilies is open by appointment.  You don’t have to wait for a festival to buy.

When buying and deciphering between the two plants, the major difference is that the leaves of the water lily lie flat on the water, and the leaves of the lotus stand above the water.  There are also a few slighter differences.  Water lily stems are smooth and their leaves have a split in them.  Lotus stems have tiny bumps that make them rough to the touch, and their leaves are completely rounded without a split.

But those are basics and not the reason so many people attended the festival yesterday.  They were genuinely amped up about the lotus…maybe a strange choice of word when talking about plants–amped–but there was true excitement amongst the shoppers yesterday.  It seemed like more of a treasure hunt than a plant sale.

One shopper practically shouted, “In the rest of the world, the lotus is huge!” Another woman approached me several times, each time with a new interesting tidbit and every time ending the conversation with, “I could go on and on about the lotus.” I’d call it the Lotus Effect, but that’s already a thing.  It refers to the way lotus leaves self-clean.  A scanning electron microscope showed how the leaf structure beads water and carries away dirt.  The Lotus Effect has been integrated into products such as fabric, paint and solar panels.

In Myanmar and Cambodia, strands from the lotus stem are woven into a fabric finer than silk.  One robe requires over 200,000 plants!  To see how fine the strands are, snap a stem and pull it apart.  And if you’re hungry, eat it when you’re done.  Every part of the lotus is edible.

The leaves are used like banana leaves to wrap up meats and vegetables in a pouch to then bake, steam or grill.  The nuts can be smashed into pastry, and the stems are often pickled.  This is the recipe for the lotus salad served at the festival:

Lotus Namasu

Peel and thinly slice 1 pound lotus crosswise (cut in half lengthwise if using a large root).  Par boil 3-4 minutes.  Prepare sauce by combining 2 cups rice vinegar with 2 cups sugar, and pour over the lotus.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup diced carrot and 3×4 inches slivered konbu for color (konbu is kelp).  Mix well and serve cold.  May be made 2-3 days in advance.

Fourth of July Fireworks at Bayfront Park

Fourth of July in Sarasota is one of those times when having a car is over-rated, so John and I left the new car in the driveway and rode our bikes over to Bayfront Park.  The city closes the bayfront section of U.S. 41 from Orange Avenue all the way around to Gulfstream Avenue for the fireworks, so even with the huge crowd, it’s easy to find a spot to stop and watch.  We left our house at ten to nine and didn’t miss so much as a bottle rocket.  We stopped twice on 41 to ooh and aah and watched the finale from inside the park.  It was so loud I could feel the pounding in my chest—impressive display!

Happy Fourth of July!

Suncoast Grand Prix

It was a good weekend to work for the newspaper because in Sarasota the 4th of July is as synonymous with super boats as it is with fireworks, and my weekend assignment was the Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a motor-head.  But I do love a good time, and to live in Sarasota, Florida over the 4th of July weekend is always a good time.

Lido beach was packed practically shoulder-to-shoulder with people, and the set-ups were incredible.  Partying people, before they’re drunk yelling “Hi, Mom” to a reporter carrying a notebook and not a camera, are incredibly inventive.

There was a bar made of a corrugated plastic complete with a generator and blender!  I would have preferred to drink the top-secret, special-Colorado-recipe, pineapple-infused margarita, but the virgin peach daiquiri was as refreshing and delicious as a dip in the gulf on such a hot, sunny day.

Beyond inventive, people are a little nuts.  They camped out overnight and brought furniture to the beach.  One guy brought a pull-out couch he bought at Goodwill for ten bucks, and the group of kids that pulled the seats out of their van and brought a coffee table with them slept on it Saturday night.

These are the weird little tidbits that just don’t work for the newspaper, but if the kid emails me the picture like he said he would, I’ll be posting that here too—about 10 kids piled onto a pull-out couch sleeping on Lido Beach.  Not necessarily news-worthy but a funny photo.  They said they were trying to break the world’s record for the most people to sleep on a pull-out couch.

It was an interesting, fun, sandy weekend…glad to walk away with so many stories…wish I had more pictures.  I took this one on my way home just because it dawned on me what a great day it’s been when you’re driving home from work with sand on your feet.Boats by the Bay draws a big crowd

Fans flock to the shore for Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix


St. Patty’s Day Two: Anna Maria Island

Our necks are green from the combination of cheap beads and sweat, but I haven’t had so much fun at a parade since probably age eight.  We spent the day on Anna Maria Island and were lucky enough to happen upon their St. Patrick’s Day parade on our way home.  The onlookers were as fun to watch as the floats.

My feet were tapping to the bagpipes and marching bands as John was lifting his shirt up to get more beads.  A la Mardi Gras, his method worked.  It was raining beads to the point that the old lady next to us got clocked in the face with a strand.

Both an elephant and Saint Patrick himself marched, and when St. Patrick passed, the group next to us started shouting, “Pray for us, Saint Patrick!”

Although the traditional parade fare of bands and floats were well represented, there was some uniquely Floridian flair mixed throughout.  This alligator was tied to the top of a golf cart…there were lots of golf carts.

This last float had me curious.  Turns out the jail was built in 1927 to hold rowdy bar patrons over night until they had time to sober up and settle down.  The walls are still standing in the backyard of the Anna Maria Historical Society.  But the more interesting fact my curiosity led to is that Anna Maria Island was basically built from the Fig Newton.  Although Charles Emerson Bean was the first person to build a home and settle on the island, it wasn’t developed until almost 20 years later when his son partnered with Charles Roser in 1911.  Roser invented the Fig Newton and sold his business to the company now known as Nabisco.  He then started the Anna Maria Beach Company with George Wilhelm Bean and this quaint beach community was born.

And one more bonus for the day, we saw dolphins from the pier.  Life was good today.


Cracker Trail Ride

Who knew?  John was driving through Bradenton on State Road 64 this morning on his way to pick up Cooper’s friend and happened to pass the Florida Cracker Trail Association’s 25th annual ride.

State Road 64, which is a fast-moving road leading to Interstate 75, had one lane blocked by police escort in a half-mile section to give way to the horses. The ride is 110 miles from Bradenton to Fort Pierce.  The trail runs straight through the state and culminates with a parade through historic Fort Pierce and a camp-out on the beach.

The mission of the Florida Cracker Association is to keep history alive,

“The annual cross-state ride serves to preserve the importance of the role of the state of Florida in the introduction of horses and cattle by the Spanish explorers into the New World and the birth and continuance of the cattle and horse industries by its future settlers and their descendants and to support related causes.

The horses will walk over pavement, through private cattle ranches, in and out of state parks crossing five counties by the time they reach Fort Pierce.  The ride covers about 20 miles a day and is a week-long event.