Category Archives: Travel

Spending my holidays at the Florida Aquarium

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I hope everyone has been enjoying their holidays because I certainly did!  I had a chance to spend some time with my family in Tampa, Florida and I had a chance to stop by to the Florida Aquarium!  I learned so much about the nutrition, health and well beings of the animals.  This Aquarium has recently went through renovations and there were so many interactive exhibits that was available to the public.

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Some of the interactive touching exhibits that I have went to was the Stingray Feeding tour.  The stingray is a flat fish that lives in the seas around the world and they prefer the temperate, shallow waters. They aren’t an active fish, spending their time mostly hiding in the sand. With their flat bodies, they don’t resemble a fish, which they certainly are, and their bodies are supported by cartilage rather than bones. They are basically nocturnal animals and this is why our knowledge of their feeding habits is quite limited. In captivity, they usually eat more things than in their normal habitat due to the fact that they can eat whatever they are fed.  They are carnivorous animals, more precisely predators, feeding on smaller fish and other sea creature that they catch at the bottom of the sea. Their diet consists of mollusks, clams, shrimps, snails and other species of fish. They don’t have a hard time catching their victim and due to their sandy color, they can hardly be detected. They can trap their prey with scarcely a problem, as they just wait for it to swim by. They don’t have strong eyesight and they must rely on their sense of smell when detecting their prey. 1

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I then went to the interactive touching exhibit of the Horseshoe Crab Lagoon.  I had a chance to touch these crabs.  Some of the facts about the Horseshoe Crabs are that these crabs are part of the Arthropods which are make up around 80% of the world’s animals, so it’s a highly successful class.  These creatures live in the ocean or in the sand and are often very beneficial to the environment.2 Horseshoe crabs are extremely important to the biomedical industry because their unique, copper-based blue blood contains a substance called Limulus amebocyte lysate. The substance, which coagulates in the presence of small amounts of bacterial toxins, is used to test for sterility of medical equipment and virtually all intravenous drugs. Research on the compound eyes of horseshoe crabs has led to a better understanding of human vision. The marine life fishery collects live horseshoe crabs for resale as aquarium, research, or educational specimens, and the American eel and whelk fisheries use horseshoe crabs extensively as bait along many parts of the Atlantic coast. 4

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The last interactive touching exhibit was the No Bones Zone were my husband had a chance to touch the beautiful star fishes and sea urchins.  The starfish is a pretty sea creature, with its swirly-shaped arms dipping out at all angles from the fish. The usual number of arms is 5 or 6, but there are different species of the starfish.  The foods that the starfish, a predator, eats are bivalves such as clams, oysters and mussels. They also eat any slow-moving fish. Others eat material that has decomposed from plants or animals. It seems that anything within reach is gathered for mealtime.3

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The final favorite place that I stop by was the Penguin Promenade where the trainers let the penguins walk around the audience on a red carpet.  These African Penguins was so cute and but they love to go to bathroom ever couple of minutes. Penguins are not afraid of humans and they do not communicate through sound but though body language. Penguins are amazing creatures for having the ability to adapt to their living environment and climate changes.  The African Penguins diet consist of  krill, cuttlefish, sardines, pilchards, anchovies, small crustaceans and squid. The African Penguins also adds pilchards and anchovies to their diet.5

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I truly enjoy the Florida Aquarium and I will make sure to come back again!  If you would like to see some more pictures of the animals that I saw you can click here !

 Happy New Year Everyone!!

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References:

1, 2, 3, 5 –  http://diet.yukozimo.com/

4 – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/crustaceans/horseshoe-crabs/facts

 

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Having a Fun Time at the Georgia Aquarium – Part 2

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The first exhibit we visited was the Ocean Voyager.  This part of the aquarium is home to 4 whales and 4 manta rays which I had the pleasure to witness.  It recently added a fourth manta ray to the Ocean Voyager exhibit and they are the only rays in the U.S. aquarium. There were a thousands of other fish in the 6.3 million gallon exhibit and it is the most magical aquarium habitat in the world.

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We had the pleasure to walk through an acrylic tunnel and we felt like a SCUBA diver in an endless blue sea, mesmerized by thousands of fish swimming overhead. Ocean Voyager, built by The Home Depot, is home to the gentle giants of the sea, including whale sharks and four manta rays.

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Beluga Whales

My husband and I started to walk in the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest exhibit and had the chance to see the beautiful  beluga whales.  They were so cute and always smiling.  When they swim in the water it gave me a calming effect over my body.  Here are some facts about the Beluga whales:

  • The beluga whale is a warm blooded mammal that breathes through the blowhole on the top of its head, not through its mouth.
  • The word “beluga” is derived from the Russian word for “white”.
  • This whale can reach 15 feet long and weigh approximately 2,500 pounds. Blubber, a thick layer of fat, helps the animal stay warm and accounts for more than 40% of a beluga’s weight.
  • Normally, the beluga is a slow swimmer, averaging speeds of 2 to 6 miles per hour. However, it can achieve bursts of speeds in excess of 17 miles per hour. The beluga also has the ability to swim backwards.
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African Penguins

I also had a chance to stand into the Acrylic tunnels and pop-up windows which allowed me to come face to face with the African penguins  This exhibit features more than 25 nesting areas integrated into naturalistic rockwork and comes equipped with a state-of-the-art lighting system that mimics the natural light cycle from twilight to moonlight. These penguins reminded me to the wild African Penguins in Cape Town, South Africa that I had a chance to visit in 2006.  It was beautiful to see these animals even though they were trying to go to sleep.

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African Penguins

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Japanese Spider Crab

Also in the Cold Water Quest exhibit there were the Japanese spider crabs which is part of Deep Sea Dwellers.  Their habitat represents life 1,000 feet (305 m) deep: dark, barren and cold area.  Japanese spider crab gets its name from its resemblance to a spider. It has a rounded body covered with stubby projections and long slim legs.  The species has been known to grow up to 12 feet (3.7 m) across.  Its body will grow to about 15 inches (37 cm) wide and the animal can weigh up to 44 lbs. (20 kg).

Fish-Eating Anemone

Fish-Eating Anemone

Another thing in the Cold Water Quest exhibit  is the Rocky Shore Tidal Pool were we had the chance to dip our hand and touching the Fish-Eating Anemone.  In this exhibit you really get an idea of how cold the Pacific Northwest can be – the temperature here is kept at approximately 55o F (12.8o C).  While touching this creature I notice that my fingers got stuck on its white tentacles.  It felt so weird but the guide told me that this is where they feeds on small fishes not humans.

Fish-Eating Anemone

Fish-Eating Anemone

The last thing in the Cold Water exhibit we had a chance to see the cute Southern Sea Otters.  Southern sea otter is not a social animal as are other otter species and has been known to live alone.  We notice that this sea otter was the only one that wanted his pictures taken even though he was sleepy.  It is believed that a sea otter will wrap itself with kelp before sleeping at the surface to keep itself from drifting away.

Southern Sea Otter

Southern Sea Otter

The last place we visited is the Southern Company River Scout exhibit which showcases a wide diversity of animals found in the rivers of four continents – Africa, South America, Asia and North America.  The rivers are essential to life for animals, people and cultures throughout the world.   We saw the Sting-Rays which are Cartilaginous Fish.

 The skeletons of these animals (Class Chondrichthyes) are composed of cartilage instead of bone. Their bodies are covered with dermal denticles, providing a smooth appearance. Depending on species, they will have 5-7 gills for breathing. Many must continuously swim to breathe.

Sting Rays

Sting Rays

Also in River Scout exhibit we saw the Jelly Fish and the Sea Star Fish which are Invertebrates.

Jelly Fish

Jelly Fish

Invertebrates are animals that do not have a spine or vertebral column. They do not have skeletons or bone. Overall, they are incredibly diverse: approximately 97% of all animal species are invertebrates. For this reason, they must be classified into more than 30 phyla – from sponges to arthropods.

Jelly Fish

Jelly Fish

Sea Start Fish

Sea Star Fish

So if you are in Atlanta, Georgia, make sure you stop by and have a date at the Georgia Aquarium!  You will love it and want to come back again!

Having a Fun Night at the Georgia Aquarium.

I have a special date with my hubby!  Where are we going you may ask?  Well to the Georgia Aquarium of course.  I always love to see the marvelous sea creatures that this very special Aquarium has.  Every time I go to the Aquarium I learn something new.

My Husband was invited to go to the Georgia Aquarium for a law-enforcement conference and I decided to come along.  Wolfgang Puck was the head chef at this event and I knew that I had to taste his delicious food.  When I got there the food was coming out fast and the crowds of people were running to the food stations to eat the food.  I did try some of the shrimp and grits which were fabulous and some of the desserts.  It was feast or famine with this wild crowd of law enforcement officials.

After partaking the food, I told my husband lets walk around the Aquarium exhibits so we can burn some calories.  The first exhibit we visited was the Ocean Voyager.

NOBEL Women Conference in Biloxi, MS

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I love being next to water particularly the beaches.  Being in Altanta and land lock, you do not have any opportunity to get to a beach unless you drive 6+ hours to the Gerogia Shores, Florida or the Gulf Coast.  Since it is summertime, I was hoping for a opportunity to go anywhere that is near water.  Such an opportunity  did happened when I had a chance to speak at the NOBEL Conference in Biloxi, Mississippi at the Beau Rivage.

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The National Organization of Black Elected Legislative/Women (NOBEL/Women) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization primarily composed of current and former black women legislators as well as many appointed officials. Originally established in 1985 as a national organization to increase and promote the presence of black women in government, NOBEL/Women in recent years has expanded its vision to serve as a global voice to address a myriad of issues affecting the lives of all women. – NOBEL – www.Nobel-Women.org

These public official women are on the move and fighting for a incredible cause.  At this year’s conference theme was NOBEL Women on the M. O. V. E. meaning Motivating, Organizing, Vocalizing, Empowering the Next Generation of Black Women Leaders.  I was so honored to be invited to speak at this conference breakfast to some of the most powerful and influential women.  My speech was on Malnutrition (see it below) and my wonderful sponsor for this speech was Abbott Nutrition.

Below is a link to my NOBEL speech:  www.livinghealthy1.org/Speaker/Media

Also, click here to view the Press Release for HEPSA Living Healthy – Denine Rogers RDN – Speaker at NOBEL Conference.

It was great see the passion from theses ladies when it comes to resolving the important issues that are happening in the African American community particularly with women.  The issues that impact the women and communities of color that NOBEL is focused on are:

  • Economic Equity
  • Health
  • Telecommunications
  • Education
  • Technology
  • Women & Leadership

I also had a chance to see the rest of the conference and I was very impressed by the speakers and the topics that were discussed.

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The Gulf Coast is still try to recuperate from all of the Hurricanes that has past over including Katrina.   Please do remember to pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in the gulf coast who are still trying to re-build their new lives  since Hurricane Katrina!  Coming down to the Gulf Coast for a vacation or business will definitely help!

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Biloxi ,MS Visitors Center

Biloxi ,MS Visitors Center

The Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, MO

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Doesn’t this picture looks beautiful?  I really enjoyed my time being in St. Louis.  I made sure that I did stop by the historical landmark the Gateway Arch.

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I was in shock when I had a chance to go up the arch that I must make sure that I was not afraid of heights and very closed rooms.

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There are three modes of transportation up the arch:

  1. Two sets of 1,076-step emergency stairs (one in each leg),
  2. A 12-passenger elevator to the 372-foot (113 m) height,
  3. And a tram in each leg.

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I took the little tram to go up the arch and each tram is a chain of eight egg-shaped, five-seat compartments with a small window on the doors.   The tram car that I was in with 5 other people swung like a Ferris wheel car.  It takes about  four minutes going up and it takes about three minutes going down the arch but it felt longer than that.

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Near the top of the Arch, I exited the tram compartment and then I climbed up the set of stairs to enter the observation area.  Once I got there I noticed that there was a sign that shows that the arch’s width and height of the arch are 630 feet.

 In Wikipedia, it states that the arch is the tallest memorial in the United States and the tallest stainless steel monument in the world.

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I had a chance to look out of the observatory windows on top of the arch and I saw from the window Mississippi River and the whole city of St, Louis.

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I was in shock at how much I saw in those small little windows.  Check out below the pictures of what I saw.

St. Louis Cardinals Stadium

St. Louis Cardinals Stadium

Downtown St. Louis

Downtown St. Louis

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

A park in downtown St. Louis

A park in downtown St. Louis

Too me it is worth the money to travel up such a incredible monument and if I had the opportunity of coming back to St. Louis I would do this again.  Thanks St. Louis for a great time !!

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Women in Government Conference in St. Louis, MO

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Out on the road again but this time I am doing a very special speaking engagement in St. Louis, Missouri!  I was invited to speak at the Women in Government Conference on Outreach to Vulnerable Populations: Aging.

 The Women in Government Foundation, Inc., (which is headquartered in Washington, D.C.), is a national, non-profit, non-partisan organization of women state legislators that provides leadership opportunities, networking expert forums, and educational resources to address and resolve complex public policy issues to all 1,788 women state legislators.

Founded in 1988, Women In Government is a is a national, non-profit, non-partisan organization that has led the nation with its vision to empower and mobilize all women legislators to effect sound policy.

With over 20 years of experience working with state legislators, state agency representatives and the public, Women In Government proudly hosts over 12-20 educational conferences, state briefings, and other policy events annually to address the nation’s public policy issues. – Women in Government website – http://www.womeningovernment.org/

I was so honored to speak at this conference.  My speech was on Malnutrition which was sponsored by Abbott Nutrition. (Click Press Release for HEPSA Living Healthy – Denine Rogers RDN – Speaker at Women in Government Conference for further information about my speech).

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Before the conference began, I wanted to take some time to see the sites of St. Louis!  The first place I stop was to a very famous Soul Food Restaurant called Sweetie Pies.  If you are a fan of OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) then you probably will recognize the show “Sweetie Pies” with Ms. Robbie and Montgomery Family.  Well, I knew that since I was in St. Louis , I was not going to leave until I stop by there for meal.

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I hitch a cab ride to the new Sweetie Pies at the Upper Crust at around 4:00 pm and I was in shock that there were no lines.  On the show you always see the long lines of people fighting to get into the restaurant.  One of the waiters told me that during the late afternoon is the best time since the lunch crowd was gone.

The beautiful picture of Ms. Robbie

The beautiful picture of Ms. Robbie

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The famous bar

The famous bar

I was hoping to meet Ms. Robbie but I was told that she was unfortunately not there.

Sweetie Pies Upper Crust with Ms. Jan and Ms. Linda!

Sweetie Pies Upper Crust with Ms. Jan and Ms. Linda!

I did had a chance to meet with her lovely sisters Jan and Linda.  They were both so nice and very friendly.  They are truly appreciative of everyone who is a fan to the television show.  I was looking forward to have some fish but unfortunately fish is only made on Fridays.  (I was there on Thursday).  I did enjoyed my vegetarian plate and i made sure I took as many pictures of Sweetie Pies as possible.

Delicious Vegetable Plate

Delicious Vegetable Plate

Yummy Mac and Cheese

Yummy Mac and Cheese

Very Sweet Candied Yams

Very Sweet Candied Yams

This was not the only thing I did on my one day trip to St. Louis.  Next week I will discuss about my adventure at the famous landmark in St. Louis – The Gateway Arch!  Happy Labor Day!

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Korean Festival “Taste of Korea 2013” in Houston, Texas!

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I had the chance to go to Houston, TX for the Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo and while there I stumble onto the Korean Festival at the front lawn of the Convention Center.  What a great time to have this festival on the starting day of the largest Food and Nutrition Convention for Nutritionist and Dietitians in the world!!

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This is the 5th Annual Korean Festival where the best of Korean culture and food is featured.  The theme this year was the “Taste of Korea” which highlighted traditional Korean meals of rice, vegetables and meats and also side dishes (called banchan) such as Kimchi .

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Being from New York, I have heard and seen the famous Korean Barbecues in action but did not know the history of it.  Some people say that the Korean’s invented modern day barbecuing but the most interesting thing about Korean BBQ is it has been dated back since the Goguryeo Dynasty (37 BC to 668 AD). Korean Barbecuing is known as Gogigui which literally means “meat + roasting”.  The most representative form of gogigui is bulgogi usually made from thinly sliced beef sirloin or tenderloin. Bulgogi (called “makjeok” at the time) was prepared similarly to how it is now—cuts of beef, topped with garlic, scallions and a lot of soy sauce. Korean barbecue refers to the Korean method of grilling beef, pork, chicken, or other types of meat. Such dishes are often prepared at the diner’s table on gas or charcoal grills that are built into the table itself. Some Korean restaurants that do not have built-in grills provide portable stoves for diners to use at their tables.  Below is an example of a piece of BBQ lamb meat on a wooden stick that you can purchase from any the food vendors at the festival.

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I have never seen so many variation of Korean BBQ food stands than I did at this festival.  Here are some of them below:

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Enough with the food!  Was there any entertainment?  Yes there was! The entertainment at the festival were TaeKwonDo demonstrations, traditional fan dancers, contemporary Korean-American performers, and having a chance to learn how to play traditional Korean games.  I had a chance to see the Lee Yun Hwa Dance Group which is a Korean cultural dance group.  I loved watching the dancers who were so graceful with their dance moves and the fans .

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What a excellent job that the Korean American Society of Houston (www.KoreanFestivalHouston.com) did to introduce the public about the Korean culture and food.  If you ever happen to be in Houston during the month of October then make sure you stop by the Korean Festival and get some of that Korean flavor!!

The Need for Fighting Against Social Injustice

DSCF0743Since the verdict from the Trayvon Martin Case recently came about there has been many questions of race and injustice.  I truly understand the angry of the verdict and the importance of fighting for social justice is very must needed right now.  The person who I know had fight his whole life about social injustice was Nelson Mandela.  It remind me what he had to go through during apartheid then unifying a country and becoming president.  A true overcomer!  I had an opportunity to go to Capetown, South Africa for the International Diabetes Conference and I did have a chance to go to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held imprisoned for over 20 years.  Getting to the island is very scary.   This island was surrounded by ferrous  waters that there was no way anyone can escape from the it.  You had to take a boat to the island where there was so many choppy waters, sharks and sting rays around you.

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The conditions during that time when Mr. Mandela was there at Robben Island were terrible for the mixed race, Asians and especially blacks.  There was also apartheid happening on Robben Island that the division of the races even down to the rations of foods that was given to inmates.  Below is a written diet plan that was given based on race.  Bantus means Blacks  and Coloured means Mixed Races and Asiaties means Indians.  This was terrible and incredibly wrong!

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I also had a chance to walk into Mr. Mandela’s small cell where he sometimes had to stay in there for days.  No mattress only a blanket and not to mention no bathroom.  Then I had the chance to go to the rock quarry where there was a place where the inmates had to cut limestone even though the limestone was not even used.  The hot sun was bearing down on us and had such a glare that I had a terrible time seeing anything.  Imagine working out there for 24 hours a  days 7 days per week with the hot sun on you and you can not see.  Now I know why Mr. Mandela was blind and he can not tolerate the light in his eyes.

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Even though Robben Island is no longer a functioning jail, it is a teaching museum where everyone and the future will remember about apartheid and to make sure it will never be repeated.  It was great to see that our guides where former inmates of the prison and friends with Mr. Mandela.  It was also incredible to see not only what Mr. Mandela went through but also see and hear what the tour guides gone through.

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Seeing the progression of Mandela from being a inmate to president of a country that was racial divided is truly amazing.  When we see the social injustices that are happening we need to protest against it and speak out what is wrong and make an effort to correct it.  Life is too short and we need to fight for what is right like Mr. Mandela and for Trayvon Martin memory.  Pray for Mr. Mandela for his health and his family.  Pray for Trayvon Martin and his family also.

Museum of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, Florida

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Back to Saint Petersburg, Florida again and this time I had chance to visit two museum  which are  the Museum of Fine Arts and the Dali Museum.  The Museum of Fine Arts has a variety of exhibits that filled with culture and diversity.  One of the exhibits in the Museum of Fine Arts is the Arts of Asia where the objects that displayed range of dates from the 2nd and 3rd century to the early 20th century.  The exhibit shows the religious ceremonies, solemn burials, scholarly pastimes, and even high fashion, today these works of art offer a glimpse of history and the living cultures of Asia.  Another exhibit is the Tour of Africa where you have a chance to see ceremonial masks and figures.  There  was a gorgeous crystal exhibit and the Pre-Columbian artwork such as the first ceramic production in the Americas that occurred around 3200 B.C.   There was also a tribute to famous American painters such as Edward Mitchell Bannister – (the most prestigious African American artists of the 19th century), Georgia O’keefee  – (the most famous women artists) and Romare Bearden –  (the most important 20th century artist).  At the Dali Museum there is a tribute art exhibit for Salvador Dali such as – the Rainy Rolls sculpture, award winning paintings and weird looking statues. Check out all of the pictures these exhibits in Pinterest  So the next time you are in Saint Petersburg check out the Museum of Fine Arts – http://fine-arts.org/ and the Dali Museum – http://thedali.org/home.php

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Florida Botanical Gardens – Part 2

What a wonderful time I had at the Florida Botanical Garden especially the Herb and Vegetable Garden. There at the garden you have a chance to scents the plants, observe the colors and read about the fascinating stories of the long history of human’s relationship with medicinal, culinary and ceremonial plants.  The Herb Garden gives you a chance to have a sensual experience where you can use your senses of smell, feel or rub the leaves without damaging the plants.

I had the chance to see herb and vegetables from around the world.  Some of the culinary herbs and vegetables were scarlet sage, mexican marigold, west indian bay-rum tree, okanawan spinach, orange jasmine, arabian coffee, the stevia plant (sugar-free sweetener) and peppermint.

Alot of people do not know that coffee grown commerically originated in Africa and is the largest legal agricultural export of developing countries.  Arabain coffee (Coffea Arabica) is a native plant to the forested mountain  slopes of tropical Ethopia and is the best species for flavor and quality.  Chocolate or Cocoa tree (Theobroma Cocao) is native to the upper Amazon River basin.  The Chocolate is made from the seeds of a thick skinned yellow to red fruit pods.  Chocolate is an Aztec royal beverage that was found too be very bitter for European tastes but with some sugar added can make this delectable treat very sweet.  Tea (Camellia Sinensis) possibly originated in Tibet and is the world’s most consumed beverage next to water.  The Chinese have grown tea for almost 3,000 years.  Yerba Mate (llex Paraguariensis) produce an ancient drink from South America and still used worldwide today.  It is used as an excellent rejuvenator and body energizer.  Also in the Herb and Vegetable garden there were edible flowers section and some of the edible flowers are medicinal.

It truly had a wonderful time in this part of the Florida Botanical Garden.  I learned so much in going to through this garden that I took some pictures of these beautiful grounds. Want to see pictures of the Herb and Vegetable garden click here . Next week is the last posting on Florida Botanical Gardens.  We will focus on the Tropical and Butterfly Garden.  Can’t wait for this!