South Florida Sunshine


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Guest Post for the Real Housewives of Oklahoma – Gone Too Far South

Some great girlfriends of mine have given me the great honor of being the very first guest to post on their blog.  I had to share a little of what I wrote for them with you.

I bet none of you would have ever guessed that there is a way for a Southern girl to go TOO far south. But it seems that’s just what I’ve managed to do. Honey, Texas just THINKS they’re a whole other country. It’s a wonder I don’t need a passport down here in Palm Beach County, Florida! Heaven help me, I know I need a translator. And half the time the translator is needed to make other people understand this SOUTHERN girl!

What cracks me up most about these people are the true locals. There is a tiny minority of people who where actually born and raised here in South Florida. Some of them mistakenly believe that due to the extreme southerly location that they are southern. But if you try to get them talking about fried okra and shellin’ peas they look at you like you just walked off a spaceship from Mars. I miss home an awful lot sometimes, y’all.

A friend of mine from Texas (I know, I know, but bless their hearts they’re still southern) sent me this list of “Southern-isms” that helps me get through those homesick days.

Only a Southerner knows the difference between a hissie fit and a conniption fit, and that you don’t ‘HAVE’ them, you ‘PITCH’ them. I don’t know maybe it’s the tropical paradise vibe with the sun and sandy beaches, but I think it’s starting to affect me. I’ve been here nearly 8 years now and I KNOW I’ve pitched far fewer fits lately. Tell ya what, though, I can still spot a child’s hissie fit coming from a mile away.

Even Southern babies know that ‘Gimme some sugar’ is not a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl in the middle of the table. Oh my word, how many times did I hear my Grandmama say just that. “Come here, babe, and gimme some sugar.” Or better yet, how many of your children have had their sugar STOLEN while sitting in Grandma’s lap? Not much sugar gets spread around these parts, and I’m fairly certain that may just be what’s wrong with ’em.

For more giggles and “Southern-isms” please stop on over at  www.theRHOK.com to read the rest of my post “Gone Too Far South.”


Mother’s Day in Key West

by Barbie Wilson Photography

As much as I love the tropical climate and the gorgeous sunsets, it’s the people of Key West that really inspire me. So, in honor of Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, I wanted to introduce you to one of the wonderful people who call Key West home.

My very first interactions with Lisa Malcom were on Twitter some months ago. What drew my attention to her were her upbeat happy tweets. @ViaKeyWest is always posting a good morning smile. She loves life and it shows. I had the honor to finally meet her face to face a few weeks ago. She’s an amazing woman inside and out, and I’m so glad to be building a friendship with her. Lisa and I traded messages and talked over the weekend. Here is what she had to say about motherhood and living in Key West.

MR: What’s it like raising a family in Key West?

LM: I was asked this question yesterday and I said then, “I LOVE it!” My children will be 5 and 6 in the next month.  They attend Montessori Children’s School, and they are like little sponges taking in everything each day.  I’m impressed with what they are learning at such a young age. My children come home and ask “Mom … do you like nature … Mom we need to save the polar bears … don’t use plastic bags etc.”  They are concerned about the health of our planet and at such a young age that is so good because they will be trained to take care of this place we live in.

I love the fact that my children are outside all the time.  That’s one of the many benefits of living in Key West … everything is 5 minutes away, including the beaches. I also love the fact that we can walk everywhere!  And when there is a parade my kids sit on the curb and wait for candy to be thrown … it’s small town with big hearts!

MR: Tell me about your best Mommy Moment.

LM: I have soooooooooooo many.  Every day is a mommy moment. You can take away anything you want from me … job, home etc but not the health and well-being of my family!  I look at my children everyday and I’m so thankful they are healthy and say to me “mom … you’re the best mommy ever”. It’s challenging, but it’s the most rewarding thing I could ever do. From the bottom of my heart, my children ARE the best gift I could ever get for Mother’s Day. I LOVE being a mom!

MR: Tell me about how ViaKeyWest.com came about.

LM: When I moved to Key West about 13 years ago I was very involved with the arts.  This town is full of talented artisans.  In the back of my head I always had an idea of doing something that would help get the word out about these amazing people.  During the economic crisis I decided to do just that … create Via Key West as a place to celebrate the talented artisans inspired by Key West!  I also created Via Key West as a 2nd job for me but one I could do from home without leaving my family.  I particularly wanted to show the inspiration behind the creations. I want people to know why a photographer shot that photo and the importance of it. I want to tell the story behind the jewelry. Via Key West is about unique handcrafted gifts from the heart. It’s an honor to get to expose all of the people affiliated with Via Key West to the world.  I love it!

Lisa says often that she loves it! But if you spend any time with her at all, you quickly learn that she truly means it. She is passionate about her husband and her children. She’s passionate about Key West. That passion shines through in everything she does.

If you’re still looking for that perfect last-minute Mother’s Day gift, I recommend that you click on over to ViaKeyWest.com and share the gift of a mother’s love.


Key West: the Family Friendly Side

For many people Key West represents drinking, parties, and adult worldly pleasures.  Most certainly there is plenty to please adults with the nightly pub crawl and adult venues all over the island, but Key West has much to offer family members of all ages as well.

Daytime is family time!  Young children and teenagers alike enjoy playing in the sand at the beaches.  If you’re visiting Key West with your entire family I highly recommend the beach at Ft Zachary Taylor State Park.  The 54 acre park offers swimming and snorkeling right off the beach.  Drop a line into the water and fish on the west side of the park.  Biking and nature trails offer a chance to explore the native tropical plant life and watch the birds as they stop for a rest on their migratory trek from South America.  Take a tour of the Civil War era fort or take a lunch break at the best beach restaurant café in Key West.

There are water sports for all ages.  For younger children and those who are not very wild at heart there are paddle board and kayak tours.  More adventurous family members will enjoy all the opportunities to hop on a jet ski, fly skywards by parasail, or ride the waves on a kite board.  As a group, your entire family can enjoy a White-Knuckle Thrill Boat ride.

Excursion providers like Fury offer glass bottom boat tours of the local reef system.  You can also get up close and personal with the marine wildlife on a diving or snorkeling charter.  Several companies also offer dolphin watching tours and excursions to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson.

Once you’ve had a full day of adventure, your family will be ready to unwind at Mallory Square as all of Key West celebrates the setting of the sun.  Be sure to arrive a couple of hours before sunset.  When you do, you will find artisans and performance artists of all manner.  Enjoy the antics of jugglers, tight rope walkers, trained animals, and much much more winding up with the grand finale as the sun drops into the Gulf of Mexico.

Granted, Key West after dark is not for the young ones, but after a full day of activities they will all be ready for a good night’s sleep.

What I personally think is the best part of visiting Key West with the family are all of the resort destinations on the island.

I recently visited the properties of the Southernmost Hotel Collection and was very impressed at how much there was to do right there on the property.  Located where Duval meets the Atlantic Ocean, the Southernmost offers four great properties for families to enjoy.  They have two historic bed and breakfast homes for mom and dad to enjoy some quiet luxury. Southernmost on the Beach offers a private beach, beautiful gardens, private pier and beach-side pool.  The Southernmost Hotel is on the upper end of Duval Street and just across the street from Southernmost on the Beach.  It offers two pools, a Jacuzzi, full-service concierge and access to the beach.  All of the properties are a mere stone’s throw from all the action on Duval.  No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll find the best deals on a hotel with resort amenities at competitive prices and no resort fees.

I had the pleasure of spending time with the SoMo’s Activities Director, Boomer McFall, as he provided tons of family fun for the guests.  People were actually getting out of the pool to come and play Wall Hookie with Boomer at the Southernmost Hotel.  Then we crossed the street to play the Newlywed Game poolside at Southernmost on the Beach.  The kids staying at both properties were coming up and asking when they would get to play sharks and minnows again. No doubt Boomer is probably one of the busiest and most popular guys on the property, and he’s constantly coming up with great new ideas and things to do.  If your family is staying at any of the Southernmost properties, I doubt you’ll ever hear “I’m bored” during your stay!

So, bring your family and come enjoy the jewel of the Florida Keys, the tropical paradise we call home; Key West.


Key West, Touring in an Electric Car: A Visitor’s Point of View

Key West is full of history at every turn, literally. Even the street names have a story all their own. There’s Truman Ave., Roosevelt Blvd., Roosevelt Dr., and Washington St., all named after Presidents of course. Flagler Ave is named for the industrialist that brought the railroad all the way to Key West. But what about the main streets that crisscross the historic business core of the island?

Streets like Whitehead, Fleming, Simonton, Greene, Thompson, and Duval tell the story of Key West’s early development. In 1815 Key West, then known as Cayo Hueso, was still part of the Spanish holdings in the New World. The Spanish Governor of Cuba at the time deeded the little island to a Royal Spanish Navy Artillery officer by the name of Juan Pablo Salas. Not long after that, the Spanish claim to Florida was transferred to the United States, and seeing an opportunity to make a nice profit, Salas sold the island . . . TWICE. He had at first agreed to hand over ownership of the island to the owner of a sloop he’d had his eye on, but then met John W. Simonton in Havana and agreed to sell to him for about 2,000 pesos in 1821. Simonton snapped up that deal because his friend, John Whitehead, had been stranded in Key West after a shipwreck in 1819, and understood how valuable the island’s location in the Straits of Florida and its deep harbor would be to American shipping.

After Simonton secured a clear title to the island, he subdivided it and sold the plots to John Mountain, John Warner, John Whitehead, and John Fleming. Mountain and Warner turned around and resold their holdings to Pardon C. Greene. It was Simonton, Whitehead, Fleming, and Greene that were influential in building Key West into the city we know today. In 1829 William Adee Whitehead laid out the modern city and gave the major streets the names of the four “founding fathers.”

Duval Street, now famous for all the pubs and shopping within easy walking distance of visiting cruise ships, was named after Florida’s first territorial governor, who had taken office in 1822. Thompson Street is reflective of the first name given to the island when Matthew C. Perry planted the first US flag on the island in 1822. He physically claimed the Keys for America and named the island Thompson’s Island in honor of the Secretary of the Navy at the time, Smith Thompson.

With so much history at every street corner, what’s the best way to see it all?

I’d say as up close and personal as you can get, but walking up and down all these streets would be tiring and time consuming. Bicycles are a great option that a lot of people choose, but in the narrow streets you are competing with the motor vehicle traffic, and that can be a bit too exciting at times. Scooters are a great choice, but you really do need to have some prior experience to get around on one of those safely. If you have never been on a scooter and don’t like playing “chicken” on a bicycle, I would highly recommend an electric car. They operate exactly the same way as your own automobile, but their smaller size is better suited to the narrow historic streets of Old Town. Personally, I like them because they are more open than my car and they are much cleaner and quieter than a standard gasoline driven vehicle.

But why take my word for it? There are tons of people that have enjoyed the Conch Republic from the seat of an electric car.

Sune’, Krista, Judy, and Anna visited not long ago and rented an electric car from Sunshine Key West Rentals. According to Sune’, they had a complete blast. They were able to cruise the entire island with ease and had a lot fun driving that electric car.

C.C.
Zebulon, of North Carolina, has visited Key West more than once. The last two trips his family made, they also rented an electric car. Riding around Key West in them was so much fun that he asked about who the manufacturer was and where he could buy one for use at home.

There are several rental service companies in Key West, but Sunshine has by far the nicest and largest fleet of electric cars and scooters. They will pick you up at the airport, ferry terminal, hotel, or cruise ship and shuttle you off to your own transportation. When you return your car, they also drop you off. All of their electric rental cars are licensed for parking in residential zones making that task quite a bit easier. Each car travels for upwards of 35 miles on a single charge and are easily recharged at your hotel, condo or guest house – or you can plug it in at their visitors center at 1910 North Roosevelt.

But I can chatter about this all day.  What you really need to do make arrangements to tour Key West in an electric car of your own!


Key West: The Ultimate Art Colony

For such a little far away spot in the great big ocean, Key West is an amazing place for art, culture, music, and history. In particular, it is an artists’ colony like none other. Artists come to visit, fall in love, and eventually stay. The amount and variety of visual arts that can be found here in the Conch Republic is staggering. Come along with me and I will give you a little taste of what can be found in the Key West art scene.

When you arrive, I HIGHLY recommend that you pick up a couple of things right away. Get a Gallery Guide printed by the Florida Keys Council of the Arts and the 2010 Key West Art Guide. Both will give you a map and descriptions of the over 42 art galleries in Key West. They are simply a couple must-haves if you want to be sure and not miss anything.

Like I said, there are over 42 galleries in Key West alone. They cover every form of visual art from paintings, photography, and sculpture to amazing fabric art and jewelery. This blog would be a mile long if I tried to profile them all, so I will give you a little sampling of what you can find just along Duval Street.

My first stop was the Wyland Gallery at 623 Duval Street. Wyland is best known world wide for his life-sized Whale Wall murals. The gallery in Key West features many of his sea creature sculptures and marine paintings. He is not the only artist in the gallery, though. You will also find works by David Wight, Steve Barton, Adam Rote, and Steven Quartly. If you will be visiting the island very soon you can catch Quartly at the Wyland Gallery April 15-18 and Adam Rote with Michael Cheval during Memorial Day Weekend.

Next, I stopped in at the Guild Hall Gallery, 614 Duval Street. Established in 1976, this gallery is a co-op of only local artists, so if you truly want a local piece to take home and treasure, this is the place to find it. There are over 20 artists currently showing at Guild Hall, and you will find a little bit of everything. There are plenty of painters, photographers, as well as crafters of various kinds. With two levels of art to browse, I found it very difficult to tear myself away and move on.

Just a few doors up the street from Guild Hall is 7 Artists. The seven artists featured here were originally part of the co-op at Guild Hall, until their work began to take up more space than the Hall had room for. All of the artists are long term residents of Key West, and highly accomplished in their own right. They each take turns working in the gallery greeting customers and working the register. The day I dropped in, David Scott Meier was there to greet me and answer all my questions.

Then I crossed the street to visit Galerie Rue Royale, where I met Steve. Luckily it was a quiet morning and Steve was able to take his time and show me around. Not only is there a great deal of amazing art to be enjoyed in Key West, but there are lots of lovely people happy to share their art passion with anyone that walks through the door. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed talking with Steve about the incredible world class artists featured at Galerie Rue Royale. I particularly loved the collection of Todd White’s work available there.

After that I wandered further up to the two Key West Galleries on the corner of Duval and Southard. Both of these galleries feature fine art from all over the world and Gallery II specifically features the work of Bill Mack. Bill Mack is an absolutely amazing figural artist, and he just finished a showing at the New York Art Show. All of those works are now in Key West and he will be joining them April 29, 30, and May 1. His show will be kicking off a month full of weekend showings by major artists at the Key West Galleries.

But my friends and art lovers, I have saved the very best for last. On a whim, I entered the Peter Lik Photography Gallery at 519 Duval Street. The amazing images taken by this outstanding photographer absolutely took my breath away. I can honestly say I have never seen anything like it. The gallery director, William Dammann, very kindly took the time to show me around and explain how Lik captures these amazing living, breathing landscapes. All I can say is, you MUST see it for yourself.

Truthfully, I’ve barely scratched the surface.  There are sculpture gardens to see at the Botanical Gardens, and so much more.  So, hop on a scooter and take a tour of the cultured side of Key West for yourself.


Following up Books and Coffee Shops

Sunshine Girl at Island Joe's

It’s been a very busy day here in Key West. Like most any given day there is a lot going on. I spent the day checking in on the art galleries all along Duval Street. That post is coming very soon!

But since I was downtown, I stopped in at Island Joe’s Coffee for a quick bite.

Joe was there himself and highly recommended the Chicken Florentine.  Wow, but it was so YUM! 

He took a moment from his busy roasting day to snap this picture of me noshing on his grilled wrap.

If you aren’t familiar with Key West you might not be aware that Key West Island Books is just a couple of doors up from Island Joe’s.  Since I was already there, I dropped in to say hi for a moment.  If I had started browsing I would have been there all afternoon!


Key West: Coffee Island Style

Mmmmmmm, coffee. . . .

If you follow me at all on Twitter, you already know that I am never good and awake in the mornings until I have had a strong cup of coffee. Truth be told, I’m pretty much useless until about 11:00 with or without it but . . . that’s a story for another day.

I know that I am one among many with this sort of coffee addiction. The most difficult part of it is traveling and not knowing where to find a good cup o’ Joe. Vacationers and Cruisers rejoice, for I know where to find the java and some great Key West atmosphere to enjoy it.

First off let me say that YES, Key West has a great Starbucks located right in the middle of it all on Duval Street. So if you need the familiar and you need it quick, that’s the place to go. But, if you want to really sit, sip, and drink in Key West you need to check out some or all of the following:

Coffee Plantation

This coffee house is Key West at its best. My dear friend and photographer, Laura Murphy, highly recommends it. They serve their fresh brewed house blend in a historic home that was built around 1890. Located in the heart of Old Town near Schooner Wharf at 713 Caroline Street, Coffee Plantation is a favorite of the locals. There is never a lack of good local gossip floating about, and the shop eagerly supports local musicians, writers, and artists. They offer fresh coffee, tea, espresso, baked goods, and a homey Conch atmosphere that is uniquely Key West.

Island Joe’s

This little place just off Duval at 519 Fleming Street is not just a coffee shop. Island Joe’s is actually a coffee roasting company that offers a great spot to sit and enjoy their handy work. Once you walk in, you are transported from the hustle and bustle to an oasis of old world charm. This place is all gourmet. Sit near a 300 year old tapestry under a gorgeous Baccarat Crystal Chandelier and enjoy an Island Joe’s signature Cafe con Leche. They also serve fresh baked French pastries and an outstanding gourmet breakfast and lunch. Even when you’ve gone home again, you can enjoy a part of Key West because Island Joe’s Coffee is shipped all around the world.

Cuban Coffee Queen

Just a scant 90 miles from Cuba at 284 Margaret Street, the Cuban Coffee Queen not only offers authentic Cuban coffee, but will deliver it to you! Also in the Historic Sea Port of Old Town with Coffee Plantation, this little walk up offers handmade Cuban sandwiches, smoothies, and coffee. It’s a perfect place to grab a quick cup while you shop.

Coffee and Tea House of Key West

If you want to sit back and relax with your coffee, the Coffee and Tea House of Key West is the place to go. Located on the southern, more quiet end, of Duval, this place is a favorite for a relaxing cup of morning coffee. The house offers a front porch to sit and read the paper as you sip. Stop by 1218 Duval and enjoy coffee on island time.

Sippin’ Internet Cafe

Just as the name says, Sippin’ is an Internet hot spot. If you need to reconnect with the world beyond Key West, this is the place to be. They offer wireless and T1 line access, fax & copy services, and can even print digital photos or copy to CD. They also serve up some fantastic espresso, coffee, tea, and baked goods, including Key Lime Pie. Located at 424 Eaton Street, they are just steps off Duval.

Key West Tea and Spice Company

For those that would rather have tea instead of coffee, Key West Tea & Spice is for you. This little place just opened in March and has the best old time market atmosphere. Foodies will enjoy the exotic spices offered, while others can pick up luxury soaps, potpourri, and all things TEA. You’ll want to stop in at 614 Greene Street just to enjoy the aromas.

All you caffeine addicts can thank me by chipping in for my next cup, because this one went cold while I was writing this.


Key West – My Top Ten Eateries

My good friend, Key West local, and fellow blogger, Laura Murphy put together a fabulous blog on some of the amazing restaurants in Key West. I am so happy to host her guest post here.

Laura’s Favorite Places to Eat Out and Why

It’s no secret; hubby and I like to go out. There’s something fun about winding down from a stressful week with a meal and some drinks out of the house. Okay: sometimes we go out more than that…but who’s counting?

We’ve scoped out many new places to eat here on the rock of Key West. During this culinary adventure we’ve gained some favorite places. Here’s our top ten eateries (and a little memory of places come and gone that we miss terribly) in the city of Key West.

*Disclaimer* These are in no way listed in order of favorite. To do so would be the impossible; each place has something different to offer!

1 Turtle Kraals

My favorite thing about this place is the tower bar! It sits above the entire restaurant and overlooks the historic seaport. This fantastic view sets the perfect mood on a sunny Friday night. Happy hour appetizers are fantastic, though you have to sit in the bar or tower bar to enjoy these specials. The staff is very friendly. Any meat you order here is fabulous thanks to the wood-fire grill. Their salads are generous and oh-so-delicious with fresh veggies! Easily, one of my ultimate favorite places to eat in Key West!

2 Half Shell Raw Bar

This is one of my husband’s favorites; it’s very nostalgic for him! Our favorite thing to eat here are steamed oysters with a side of dill potato salad. If you like potato salad, you must order it here! Fantastic! It’s only a few dollars for a nice serving. We have tried the oysters elsewhere and these taste the best and seem to be one of the best priced options for oysters. They are also located in the historic seaport right on the water. The hundreds of license plates that decorate the walls are fun to gawk at.

3 Rum Barrel

The dark interior of this place makes you feel like you’re aboard a pirate ship. We have yet to experience the quarter deck up top, but it’s definitely on our list! The bar has the best atmosphere in this establishment with plenty of microbrews to sample. The first time we ate here I fell in love with it. Everything we’ve eaten here has been good: from salads , nachos, fish sandwiches, tacos and yes…potato salad.

4 Santiago’s Bodega

This was an incredible dining experience; by far the fanciest place with the best tasting food I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. We were treated to Santiago’s by our previous landlord in Minnesota who did very good research and sent us a gift certificate as a thank you for being good tenants. The key to remember here is that they serve tapas: a light appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine. At first glance of the menu you’ll think the place is very inexpensive. But the portions are small, so you’ll want to order several rounds for two people. It is a very small place; our best guess was it seats 40 people maximum. Needless to say, this makes for a very intimate environment. It’s perfect for a romantic date.

I was so moved by the experience of eating here I wrote a blog post about it. You can view it at my other, purposely neglected, blog at:

http://leprechaunswife.blogspot.com/2009/10/best-meal-of-my-life.html

5 Blue Heaven

A co-worker of mine recommended this place to us; she said it was Heaven. She was right! Described as a local’s favorite, the unique outdoor atmosphere is very relaxing. Chickens wander the lot and will often “beg” for food at your feet. The food here is fantastic! It’s on the more expensive side, but well worth it. We enjoyed our Christmas family dinner here – unforgettable!

6 Angelina’s pizza

We stumbled across Angelina’s, likely on a rum-filled adventure. I instantly fell in love with it. While you can order an entire ‘za here, we often opt for single slices and some wings. The staff is nice, but you have to dig. I was quite shocked when they practically screamed that our order was ready. To complete the 1950’s feel, they have several arcade style games.

7 Jack Flats

Great for football! They claim to have more TV screens than we were able to find, but it’s pretty much wall-to-wall screens. Again, everything we’ve eaten here is good. We discovered they have very yummy sliders and wings! Appetizers and salads are my favorite selections from this Duval St restaurant.

8 China Garden West

I had to include just one delivery place. We’re frequent customers here! They have a very large menu with decent prices; seafood is generally not much more than chicken or beef options. Overall, they are decently priced for the portions you get. Whenever we order, we’re pretty much guaranteed two meals each out of the deal!

9 Old Town Mexican Café

Okay – we’ve eaten here once; in 2007. However, the atmosphere and meal was so good, we’ve vowed to go back. It’s hidden on Duval between Key Lime Square and a building. Trees overhang above you, so you don’t feel smushed, but rather relaxed in this outdoor venue. I recall the shrimp fajitas and guacamole were good! Our favorite feature: bucket of coronas for a very good price!

10 Upper Crust

Tasty pizza indeed! You can order some fantastic specialties here. We had the chicken fajita pizza and were very impressed! They have free delivery! Just be prepared: on any given night you can pretty much guarantee to be shoulder to shoulder in this little shop!

We’ve reviewed all our favorite eateries here on the island. But a blog post about Key West eats wouldn’t be complete without leaving fond memories of a few places that have left us.

Crabby Dick’s

Distinguished by the big white balcony overlooking Duval St, we adored this place so much we visited daily during our 2007 visit to the island. The happy hour appetizers were unbeatable. The statue of Crabby Dick, the pirate, was my good friend (it’s true; do a Google image search on “Crabby Dick’s” and the 2nd photo is myself and Crabby Dick himself. At least that’s what we called him). During our 2007 trip we got engaged and our bartender was kind enough to buy us a few rounds of drinks to celebrate. We were so pumped for our 2009 pre-move visit that we planned to visit Crabby Dick’s every night during our stay. To our great disappointment, they shut their doors some time before we arrived. There was another restaurant that moved in a few months ago, but they too closed their doors after only a few weeks of business.

The Iguana

We met Steve the bartender here! Terrific bartender, wonderful friend, and close neighbor to us! There is a row of bar stools facing Greene Street, which makes for some fun people watching. My absolute favorite food here was the hog wings and tots. Hog wings were tender pork on the bone carved down to look like chicken drummies. So fantastic! However, this past winter they, too, closed their doors. It’s rumored they’ll open their doors again….but the most important question is still unknown. Will they ever serve hog wings in Key West again?

RIP, guys. We miss you terribly!

Now it’s off to find some dinner. What should we eat tonight? 🙂


Key West: Where to Find the Perfect Beach Book

I was recently asked by a friend of mine, Sujatha Hampton,author and fellow blogger, about independent bookstores

Author Sujatha Hampton

in Key West. Since the release of her book, “As It Was Written”, she has been very busy and looking for chance to get away.  A little book promotion island style was just the excuse she needed.  I passed on several links and addresses and I quickly decided that this was a topic worth expanding on.

South Beach, Key West, FL

For such a small, out-of-the-way place, Key West has a very rich literary heritageErnest Hemingway wrote nearly 70% of his published work from the home that has recently been named a literary landmark.  Tennessee Williams would come down to the beach at the southernmost point of the island to swim every morning before he started his writing day.  Even now, Key West still draws the notable and the hopeful alike.  Every year the island community hosts the Key West Literary Seminar, an event that draws readers and writers worldwide.

This year a new literary event is coming to the Key West social calendar.  SeaStory Press is hosting it’s first annual Key West Authors’ Book Fair.  Local authors will be gathering in the courtyard of the Key West Heritage House

Heritage House Museum

to exhibit, sign, and read from their works.  This event will be a fantastic opportunity to meet with authors who find inspiration in paradise on a daily basis.

Even if you aren’t a writer, but a bibliophile like me, there are plenty of places to tickle the reading fancy.

Photo by Laura Murphy

One of Key West’s up and coming authors, Michael Richie, highly recommends Key West Island Bookstore for picking up a great beach read.  Located at 513 Fleming Street, Key West Island Bookstore is stuffed with gems you would have never guessed you wanted until you started browsing.  Locally owned and operated, the shop captures all that is Key West, even some of its quirks.

The Key West Library should also be a stop for all book lovers.  Like Key West Island

photo by Laura Murphy

Bookstore, the library is located in Old Town at 700 Fleming Street.  Along with standard library fare, the Key West Branch of the Monroe County Library system has an extensive collection of books on Florida history.  They also host a regular lecture series, weekly programs for children, and the One Island One Book program.  Be sure to check out their tropical palm garden while you are there.

Voltaire Books at 330 Simonton Street is an independent bookstore that has a

photo by Laura Murphy

more Barnes & Noble feel.  They specialize in Hemingway, Williams, various Key West authors, and IndieBound bestsellers.  For visitors seeking the comfort of the familiar, there is a Borders Express located at 2212 N Roosevelt Blvd.

So be sure to save a little room in your bags for a few new books and take home  a bit of Key West.


Key West: Invitation to Paradise

Spring is in the air at last.  The days are getting longer, the sun is getting warmer, and life of all sorts is getting ready to burst forth in bloom.  All around us, we feel a change coming on, a time for something new.

Even here in Key West, we are welcoming the warm coming of Spring.  It’s been an unusually cold and wet winter here.  Many in the local tourist trade have had to scramble to come up with alternatives to our usual warm weather offerings.  But, as always, we have managed to greet unusual circumstances with a laid-back, no-worries, Island attitude.

And now that Spring is renewing us all, I think I will try something new.

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For a while now, I have been tweeting away, commenting on Facebook, and extolling the virtues of my island paradise to anyone who is willing to listen.  To my great pleasure, many have stuck around to become friends.

From the very first time I visited, Key West captured my heart.  I have a passion for this place and the amazing people that live here.  It is that passion I want to share with all others out there that have ever longed for an island get away.

So, come along!  Rent a scooter and see the Key West I love so much, up close and personal.

I want to share so much with you.  Let me treat you to a Key West vacation like only a Floridian can.  I want to introduce you to not only all the fantastic hotels on the island, but also the little out of the way accommodations like historic B&Bs, beautiful vacation bungalows, and all the wonderful people that live to welcome visitors to our island.

Let me show you how to get around like a local.  It’s amazing how much freedom you can find on a scooter or in a little electric car.  Just imagine all the sights I can show you when we don’t have to stick to someone’s tour schedule.

There are so many wonderful things to see and do here.  It’s almost impossible to know where to start.

What do you think?  Have you even been here before?  What is your favorite memory of Key West?

If you haven’t been here yet, what do you most want to do?

Let me be your guide to fond memories and the open door to wonderful new ones, here in Key West.



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