Tag Archives: Florida

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

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



Buick Discovery – Food and Wine Tour


The Buick Discovery – Food and Wine Tour came to Buckhead at the St. Regis Hotel and boy it was day filled of fun and food!!  The place was pack with a showcase of 3 top chefs in their field, a incredible sommelier expert and celebrity chef Michael Psilakis. What a great program!  

I spend this wonderful day with my hubby and we were able to taste  the wonderful spread of food prior to the tour.  Variety of cheeses, crackers and meats were available to eat.   There was a Kitchen Aid section where they demonstrated their new aged blender and mixer.  IMG_2121

Also the Olive Orchard – a 100% South African Olive Oil in different flavors was there to let you taste test with french rolls.  Delicious!


After this we had a chance to test drive the new line of Buick luxury cars and SUVs.  This luxury, style and comfort all in one in a wonderful and relaxing ride.  I love the ease of the turning of the steering wheel and the comfortable leather seating.  My favorite was the Buick Enclave SUV and the Regal.



The next place I stop was progressive Pastry Chef and Co-Executive of the Baume and Brix Restaurant  in Chicago  – Chef Ben Roche.  Chef Roche make edible print dessert at his restaurant and this evening he made a French Crem Yuzu Chiboust, Pastry Cream and Meringue and Ice Cream with Caraway Seeds made with Gelatin Sheets.  The taste of all of theses dessert was incredible and different.  Who would have ever thought that you can use Caraway Seeds into ice cream!



Next, I went to the Food and Wine Best New Chef Andrea Curto-Randazzo from Miami, Florida.  She is the a Chef/Owner of The Water Club, Talula Restaurant and Creative Tastes Catering.  Today she showed us how to cook a Pork Butt which is also called a pork shoulder.  Of course there were alot of butt jokes but that was all a part of the fun.   I learn alot from her especially making functional garnish.  Garnish should never be thrown out but be used as part of the meal.  She made a delicious pork butt with sauteed potato and collard greens with olive oil topped with lemon and lime garnish.  So the next time you go to South Beach you will have to check out her restaurants and catering business.



The next place I went  to was the main room which featured Micheal Green the incredible and very knowledgeable Sommelier and wine expert.  We had chance to taste the difference of burgundy and white wine and what types of food would taste good with them.  We had a chance of using lemons and the tasty Lindt Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt.


Mr. Green then discussed with us the history of wine and alcohol over 20 years in a 20 minute speak.  There are 5 things that you must know about selecting a wine.  First is the  type of grape gives the taste of wine.  Second is the region of the wines.  The cooler place region offer a lighter, higher in acid and low alcohol wine.  The warmer place region offer a heavy, low acidity and high in alcohol wine.  Third is the type of soil and fourth is the vintage year.  Last is how it was made either in a vineyard or winery and aging wine which is usually not given on a label.  Another thing is the taste of the wine which we have to use the six “S”.  See – Hold from the stem or hook, Swirl – introduction of oxygen, Smell – the mine could be sweet, sour, bitter, salt and savory. Sip, Swish and Swallow.  Then in his closing notes he stated that there is no relationship with price and taste, if you it taste good to you than it is and last he made a quote from Thomas Jefferson “Wine is a necessity of life for me”.  What a great lesson!


Last but not least was the Iron Celebrity Chef and Chef of the Year for Food and Wine Magazine – Micheal Psilakis.  A Greek-American self taught chef was invited to cook a dinner for the President of the United States for Greek Independence Day.  He is the Executive Chef/Owner – Kefi, FISHTAG and MP Taverna Restaurants. Chef Pislakis took time to talk with us about his family history of cooking and how he was able to drawn inspiration from his family to become the chef he is today.  Chef Psilakis demonstrated a new spin of the Gyro Rub which consist of  a 1/3 of beef chuck, short rib and brisket meat.  He made it the Gyro as a hamburger which made is very juicy and full of flavor.


I was so honored that he signed his classic Greek cookbook “How to Roast a Lamb”.   Make sure you purchase this book today because you will learn the true essence of Greek cooking.  So the next time you see the Buick Discovery – Food and Wine Tour come to your neighborhood make sure you stop by and come to this very exciting event.


Museum of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, Florida


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


Florida Botanical Gardens – Part 3

Ever wanted to to see what a real mango and banana plant look like?  Well  in the Tropical Garden area at the Florida Botanical Gardens you have a chance to see these plants in a tropical setting.  This tropical garden has towering trunks of over a dozen different varieties of banana and plantain. I had a chance to observe how a pineapple grows and find the source of sugar. There were other different plants in the garden such as citrus, papaya and other exotic fruits are here for all to enjoy.

I also had a chance to wander through the Butterfly Garden and observe the assortment of butterflies.  I was able to see the nectar and host plants that attract these beautiful creatures butterflies.  The best part of this garden was that I was able to check out the Butterfly Garden grounds  and to see what ideas that I can include to my own landscape.

So the next time you are in Florida, swing on by to the Florida Botanical Gardens.  Click here to see pictures of the Tropical and Butterfly Garden.

Florida Botanical Gardens – Part 1

Since the weather is getting colder this week blog posting will give you a warm  vision of Florida.  I had the chance to visit the Pinellas County – Florida Botanical Gardens which is a free educating environmental friendly gardens. These wonderful gardens are run by Pinellas County Extension – Master Gardener which has over 30 acres of cultivated gardens and 90 acres of natural areas.  I truly loved this place and learned so much about Florida’s gardens,  wildlife and habitats.   The Florida Botanical Gardens ideas birth began in 1991. Starting in 1999,  the Florida Botanical Gardens build the gardens and it was  completed in early 2001.

The first place I visited was the Wetland Habitat where I had a chance to observed how the plants, trees and animals become at home in a man made retention pond.  The Wetland Habitat has over 150 types of bird, mammals, and reptiles that have been documented on site. Several endangered or threatened species including Bald Eagles, Gopher tortoises and Sherman Fox squirrels make their home there.  I had a chance to see a pelican looking for their first meal and alligator sunbathing in the hot sun.

There are beautiful flowers that are indigenous to the Wetlands Habitats that were planted and bloomed around the pound.  Some of the flowers and plants were the gorgeous bird of paradise, lilies, wild coffee and the blanket flower.

The Florida Botanical Gardens office has volunteer Master Gardeners to assist with the staff to keep the grounds looking beautiful.  There is indoor waterfall, water loving plants in hanging pots, drought resistant and weird looking plants coming out from the building.

Another place on the grounds was the Wedding Garden where there is a rose garden that showed a varied kind of roses. There were different types and shapes of topiary, beautiful Hibiscus flowers and unusually shape pines.  The site is perfect for a wedding with the brick pathway and open spaces.

Next week blog post is the Herb and Vegetable Garden and check out my Florida Botanical Gardens pictures in the gardening section on Pinterest.  Click here!

Chihuly Exhibit

St. Petersburg has been known as an arts and cultural area especially with the many exhibits that are going on in the area.   I had a chance to attend the famous glass work of the  Chihuly exhibit at  the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida .  Who is this distinguished artist?  Dale Chihuly is worldwide known glass work artist who have his art work displayed in more than 200 hundred museum.  Here is a excerpt of his life bio below from the Chihuly Studios:

Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass while attending at the University of Washington and studying interior design . After graduating in 1965, he enrolled in the first glass program in the country, at the University of Wisconsin. Chihuly continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later established the glass program and taught for more than a decade.

In 1968, after receiving a Fulbright Fellowship, he went to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice. There he observed the team approach to blowing glass, which is critical to the way he works today. In 1971, Chihuly cofounded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State. With this international glass center, Chihuly has led the avant-garde in the development of glass as a fine art.

Having a chance to look at Chihuly glass work is truly an honor.  I was in awe with how he was able to come up with these designs and able to shape theses glass work to any forms structures.  So if you are in St. Petersburg, Florida come and stop by the Chihuly exhibit.  Check out the pinterest for the Chihuly glass works.

The Beaches and Marinas of Florida

Since the BP oil spill that had happened almost two years ago in the gulf coast line, everyone was wondering how can Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida beaches can come back?  I was wondering about this also especially for the marina and beach coast line environmental life.  What I did saw was a increase of crowds of people hanging out at the beaches and marinas in Florida and even seeing people swimming in the water.  No sights of black tar balls or black oil slick.  It was beautiful to see the sun shinning the blue waters and the cool breeze off the gulf coast line.

It is great to get into the Floridan lifestyle which is very lay back and very much into the seafood cuisine.  I never knew that you can eat fried gator and frogs legs until I visited Florida.  There is truly alot of cultural and history in this place called the pan handle.

I had a chance to visits the Fred H. Howard Park in Tarpon Spring, Florida and John’s Pass Boardwalk Marina near St. Petersburg, Florida.  Fred H. Howard Park is truly a beautiful with its white sandy beach and one-mile scenic causeway.  On this day we did not have a chance to see any manatees nor dolphins but we did see some people fishing, sunbathing and swimming.  I can understand why people at the park takes seat and watch the sunset.  This beach is a great place to do mediation and Tia Chi.

The John’s Pass Boardwalk Marina was a fun and busy place.  I had a chance to see the Hooter’s World Largest Wing and walk on the boardwalk to the marina stores.  There were boats that will take you out to the gulf to go deep sea fishing and dolphin watching.  The seafood was delicious but be careful of those seagulls because they will fight you for that food.

I am so glad that the Gulf coast is starting to come back and I was also glad to help out in being a tourist to patron the shops and stores in the area.  If you want to have a last vacation before the leaves start to turn, come on down to anyone of the states that are a part of the gulf coast line and your gulf coast neighbors will be very happy to see you!  Check out the pinterest for pictures.

Tarpon Springs, Florida the Start of the Sponge Industry

I had the chance to stop over in Tarpon Springs, Florida to see about what is this fascination about the Sponge Industry.  Alot of us use sponges for washing and painting but we never knew how it travels on to the store shelves let alone the history of it.  Here is what I found while visiting Tarpon Springs, Florida about the start of the Sponge Industry.  (This information below was obtained from the HELLAS Restaurant and Wikipedia).

The early sponge-fishermen for more than a half-century had been bringing their sponge catches to the Anclote Keys and Bailey’s Bluff, beaches to start the curing process.   Almost all of the spongers were from Cuba, the Bahamas or Key West, and they returned to those places to sell their sponges.

From small boats in shallow waters, they speared the sponges on the Gulf floor or used long poles with hooks at the end to pull them up after sighting the sponges through glass bottom buckets.

The first Greek immigrants arrived to this city during the 1880s, when they were hired to work as divers in the growing sponge harvesting industry.    In 1905, John Cocoris introduced the technique of sponge diving to Tarpon Springs. Cocoris recruited Greek sponge divers from the Dodecanese Islands of Greece, in particular Kalymnos, Symi and Halki leading, by the 1930s, to a very productive sponge industry in Tarpon Springs, generating millions of dollars a year.

When a red tide algae bloom occurred in 1947, wiping out the sponge fields in that region of the Gulf of Mexico, most of the sponge boats and divers switched to fishing and shrimping for a livelihood. The city then converted most of its sponge-related activities, especially the warehouses where they were sold, into tourist attractions. The Sponge Docks are now mostly shops, restaurants, and museums dedicated to the memory of Tarpon Springs’ earlier industry. Most sponges sold on the docks are now imports; relatively few sponges are harvested from the area, although attempts have been made in recent years to restart local sponge harvesting. Led by local businessman George Billiris, in the late 1980s the sponge industry made a comeback, and in the fall of 2007 a record harvest of sponges by a single boat was made.

In 2007 and 2008, Tarpon Springs’ mayor, Beverley Billiris, established Sister City relationships with Kalymnos, Halki, Symi, and Cyprus, honoring the close historical link with these Greek islands.

Mostly Greeks came to Tarpon Springs to open restaurants, candy stores, coffee houses, taverns and grocery stores.  I had a chance to eat at one of those famous Greek restaurant called HELLAS.  The food was fresh, delicious and light tasting.  I had a chance to visit this restaurant with my family and boy it was fun.  My husband order the Hellas Gyro called the Largest & Best Gyro in Town with a combo of broiled beef and lamb served wrapped in a pita with sliced onions.   tomatoes and a delicious tzatiki sauce.    Check pinterest to see what I ordered.

I learned alot during my trip to Florida such as gardening, cultures, artistic view points and pure beauty.  Check out my next coming blogs about my wonderful time at the sunshine state – Florida.

To learn more about the impact of cultures in our global economy, check out Living Healthy Educational Classes  on The Impact of Micro and Macro Cultures in a Global Economy .