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Author Archive | Anita Shirreffs

Totally Romantic Ideas for Valentines Day 2014 in South Florida….

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Disconnecting from our daily world of chores and driving, errands and work, computers and mobile phones for just a minute and spending time in a gorgeous natural setting with your special love, can create some beautiful moments and memories– this is a fact.

Need proof? Well, have you ever walked by a bush of night blooming jasmine, in bloom, and not been transported to Loveland? Jasmine is a rich, buttery, lovely fragrance and when it rides a night time breeze and envelopes you in its magic, you forget the world around you and bliss out, intoxicated by the flowers perfume.  This does not happen at the perfume counter! Neither does being so stoked by how beautiful the ocean is, that you are inspired to just sit and look at it …. and in that moment you never even realize that for a long time, nothing else existed for you, but the ocean and all those shades of blue… The ocean is so awesome.

Here is our list of idea’s

#1 Get to your favorite Farmers Market together, here’s why

Cooking together makes cooking a different & fun experience. If you and your special someone like to cook, this can be a great Valentines day gift to give each other.

You will need to make a trip to a local organic farmers market! Look around at the offerings and get inspired. I like to shop without a menu planned and just let the menu be dictated by what looks good and piques my interest.  Each of you can be responsible for a part of the meal. One cooks the entrée, and the other cooks the salad or the soup… whatever.

To add some extra Valentimes Day Fun, buy dessert at a fancy bakery, the sort of place they pack your purchase in a box with a bow. To make it fun, you both pick something out for the other, in secret, and don’t reveal it until dessert time, when you get to unwrap your box at the table.

Picking out healthy food, and making a meal for the one you love with all your heart, is just one of the nicest things to be able to do.

#2 VENETIAN POOLS – CORAL GABLES

“The Venetian Pool is an aquatic facility unlike no other in the country. It has been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, and is still one of the main tourist attractions for those visiting the City of Coral Gables.

With the efforts of George Merrick, artist Denman Fink, and architect Phineas Paist, the pool was transformed into a paradise that today is included in the National Register of Historic Places, the only swimming pool to have such a designation.

The pool was created in 1923 from a coral rock quarry, where much of the original coral rock was used to border and further accentuate the pool. It also features two large historic lookout towers, with a view to the City Beautiful.

The 820,000 gallon pool is fed with spring water from an underground aquifer. In the spring and summer seasons, the pool is filled and drained daily!

Of course the aquifer is not the only feature that enhances a visitor’s experience. There are two waterfalls that provide a scenic backdrop as well as the cave-like grottos which provide a fun experience for swimmers.”

*And those “cave like grotto’s” sure sound like an enchanting place to say I Love You, to someone.

#3 MORIKAMI GARDENS CORNEL CAFE – DELRAY

This time of year the Morikami Gardens are lovely. Recently featured in Smithsonian Magazine and always a destination for weddings, this place is a romantic hideaway. I say “hideaway”, because the gardens are big, so you are sure to have your privacy as you stroll the paths.

When you are finished your walk, as long as it is between 11am and 3pm, the museum cafe is open.  It was “judged by The Food Network as one of the top three museum dining experiences in the country.” The cafe has a large terraced area for diners which overlooks the gardens; it is really quite the spot.  The menu is also delicious and when I was there they had some nice sake too…  So between the gardens, the cool outdoors, the  idyllic cafe setting and sake… it is great place to say I love you!

#4 BAHIA HONDA STATE PARK – BIG PINE KEY

Snorkeling requires no learning curve, expensive gear or certifications, and it is a blast! Bahia Honda State Park is a snorkelers paradise. It is hard to imagine that up to 90% of Elkhorn and Staghorn coral in the Keys has disappeared, but it has. Still there is a lot of underwater life in Bahia Honda and seeing it with a loved one is an easy to do, outdoor adventure.

You can camp out here or better yet drive another 45 mins south and stay in Key West, whatever you do, you will feel like you are miles away from the daily grind.

& Don’t miss the sunset….

(There are many people to say I Love You to btw.  So if you are single, you still need to say it to someone!)

#5 THE SUNDY HOUSE – DELRAY

The Sundy House in Delray Beach, originally built in 1902, was the Mayors house. Today the Sundy House is a charming boutique hotel the Mayor would have been proud of, and it is the makings of Tom Worrell. Mr. Worrell is a forward thinking environmentalist. He is the creator ofLiving Machines and owner of El Monte Sagrado in Taos- the only truly green luxury resort in the country. He is also a former newspaper man and lawyer.

Restoring the Sundy House to its current state, was a labor of love and a gift to the community; and the hotels “TaruGarden” is what I wanted to point out. With over 500 species of plants on a large parcel of land, this is not your average hotel garden!

Highly recommend a visit TaruGarden, followed by a drink and some nibbles. It is a good idea to call a head of time and be sure there is not a wedding taking place in the garden however – it is a favorite place for many couples.

#6 THE KAMPONG – COCONUT GROVE

From the website…

“Enter the gates of this hidden oasis tucked in metropolitan Miami. Stand dwarfed by an 80-year old baobab tree from Tanzania that weighs almost 50 tons! Delight in the intoxicating fragrance of flowering plants prized by the perfume industry. Immerse yourself in the intriguing story of legendary plant explorer David Fairchild. See his historic home and his study where he penned recollections of his expeditions and his observations about the plant world. Marvel at the fascinating fruits he brought here to his private garden and introduced to the U.S.”

Sounds enchanting. PS, one of flowering plants they grow is Ylang Ylang which is prized for its aphrodisiac properties!

#7 THE NEW RIVER BY WATER TAXI AT NIGHT – FORT LAUDERDALE

Away from the hustle, bustle, noise and aggravation of the roads, with the lights twinkling from houses that line the river, the New River by boat at night is romantic.  Get your ticket and take a trip to nowhere down the New River at night, stop and get off along the way for refreshments. Enjoy the ride, and the company.

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Love YOUR Planet

Speaking of Valentines Day…

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In response to a writer at the Sun Sentinel

A writer at the Sun-Sentinel wrote a pro, Port Everglades waterways expansion blurb in the paper.

Here is my emailed response to her. Not the most eloquent! But, atleast it got done and was CC’d to some local politicians also.

Dear Doreen,

Regarding your blurb on Feb 5, 2014 in the Sun-Sentinel – “Port productivity: Handling freight more efficiently” I wanted to say that, not only are you a consistently poor reporter in general, but such a pro-business – at what ever the cost – sort of reporter that I feel like you are stuck in another time and place and simply not current with what is going on.

CBS News for instance recently reported that we are on track to have a “fishless” ocean. For your information, saving natural reef is one way to make sure that doesn’t happen. It maybe the biggest way. Yet you make it sound like Port Everglades is backwards and behind the times. Let’s just hope local politicians for once do the right thing? After the Biscayne Bay Dredge, which was illegal, it is hard to tell.http://www.cbsnews.com/news/salt-water-fish-extinction-seen-by-2048/

Yachtsman, and long distance sailor Ivan Macfayden, accounts for us that from his up close and personal viewpoint, the ocean is “broken”.
So what is more “productive ” at this point Doreen? Old business models are just that – old, outdated and unsustainable. We need to save our oceans. Do you know that the ocean makes 70% of our oxygen- and has been producing less oxygen over the past ten years? We need healthy oceans, not more crap from the Peoples Republic of China. These days that is the sort or reporting I will be looking for.
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Biodynamic Farming 101

Popular in Europe, especially Germany, and catching on other places, Biodynamic farming is an interesting science. Complex and precise, it is beyond organic and is a practice for farmers who are really in touch with their surroundings.

Here from Wikipedia:
“Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming originally developed by Rudolf Steiner that employs what proponents describe as “a holistic understanding of agricultural processes”. One of the first sustainable agriculture movements, it treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives. Proponents of biodynamic agriculture, including Steiner, have characterized it as “spiritual science” as part of the larger anthroposophy movement.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodynamic_agriculture

I liked the presentation about Biodynamic farming from the Organic Consumers Association page:
What is Biodynamic agriculture? In seeking an answer let us pose the further question: Can the Earth heal itself, or has the waning of the Earths vitality gone too far for this? No matter where our land is located, if we are observant we will see sure signs of illness in trees, in our cultivated plants, in the water, even in the weather.

Organic agriculture rightly wants to halt the devastation caused by humans; however, organic agriculture has no cure for the ailing Earth. From this the following question arises: What was the original source of vitality, and is it available now?

Biodynamics is a science of life-forces, a recognition of the basic principles at work in nature, and an approach to agriculture which takes these principles into account to bring about balance and healing.
http://www.organicconsumers.org/biodynamics.cfm

Biodynamic farmers get their certification predominately from Demeter International. I have been to some shops in Germany and France that sell mostly Demeter products and you really can “feel” a difference.  http://www.demeter.net/

I enjoyed reading about this fascinating farming practice.  Reading farmers’ say it was making such a difference too, was also wonderful.

Paradise Farms in Homestead, FL has implemented some of the Biodynamic principles into their farming. Local chefs in Miami say the produce from the farm is “the best”.

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MEDITATION: Yep, You May Like it

Just felt like talking about meditation.

Why does that belong on a environmental blog?

Let me count the way’s.

1. If you’re not hearing what’s going on with the planet, chances are your life is too busy. Meditation will help you slow down.

2. If you have heard what is happening to the planet, but it hasn’t urged you to respond, change some habits, whatever, meditation will get you tuned back in – to reality. Yes, it’s still there.

3. If you feel like nothing you do will make a difference, so why bother, you may need to press the re-set button. Meditation will put you back in the drivers seat. When you are in the drivers seat, you are in charge of the ride and mindful drivers make healthy decisions. They see the road ahead.

4. Meditation will give you a new appreciation of what is important. Happiness does not come from things, and it is almost impossible to see that trusim in today’s world. Meditation will help curb your consumer cravings, and save money.

5. Meditation is your friend.

You can be any religion or no religion in order to meditate. The most basic meditation practice is to sit on the floor, legs crossed, and preferably on a meditation cushion that will lift your butt a few inches off the floor- this helps with comfort and focus. You want to keep your spine straight, like a “stack of coins”, don’t lean to any side, or to the back or front and keep your head/chin looking straight ahead.

After getting your seat comfortable, you want to work on your focus, on your gaze. Mindfulness meditation is not practiced with eyes closed, it is done with the eyes open, albeit not WIDE open, Lol. In the begining you want to direct your focus toward the tip of your nose. If that proves impossible, then look at the floor a few feet in front of you.

Once you get your gaze settled, you need an object to meditate on, and in the begining we use our breath for our focus of meditation. Why? Because its easy! So sit straight, be comfortable, settle into your gaze- on your nose or floor, and concentrate on your breath. You do that by counting your breaths. Use a count of say “5.”

Example: The breath comes in, in, in and goes out, and that is 1 count. The breath goes in and comes out and that’s 2, and so on all the way to five and then start again from one. “Watch” the breath. When your mind wanders from watching the breath, and it will, just drop the thought as soon as you recognize you are wandering, and come back to your breath. Try not to follow thoughts that arise, instead gently go back to and stay with the breath. Try not to blink, or blink too much. Start with a ten or fifteen minute session.

Here is a picture of the type of cushion I use. It is a really firm type of foam and it is about 4-5 inches high. You sit on the edge of it and it helps take pressure off the spine, and also keeps you alert. I rest my left hand palm side up in my lap, put my right hand palm up, on top of that and touch thumbs.

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I read that Mick Jagger has been doing Buddhist meditation for years… cool.

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Manatee’s: For the Record, Florida

Manatee’s have a few friends in Florida, but not enough in local Government, atleast for an endangered species.

In 2013 we had a record number of manatee deaths due largely to human factors including negligence, and that fact is glaring officials in charge of protecting the creatures, in the face.

Agriculture practices in Florida are toxic to our waters and manatee habitat. Preliminary manatee necropsy reports from the Indian River Lagoon manatee die off last year indicates excessive nitrogen in the creatures bellies. Dr. Brian Lapointe of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, says:  “…because of all the nutrients, from septic tanks, fertilizer run-off, and the various human sources on the water shed, this plant (Gracilaria) has formed massive algae blooms, overgrows seagrasses, and can smother the seagrasses, cutting off the light they need for example, And, this has of course, affected the manatee…. he says research needs to focus on the toxins in the lagoon.”

Additionally watercraft incidents with manatees are on the rise. Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Stock Assessment Report” aka SAR, for the Florida population of the West Indian manatee was updated and added to the Federal Register. Why is that important? Because it documents what seems to be a genuine lack of interest on the part of the State of FL to deal with the issues that are killing off our manatee’s.  Do we really want to let that happen?

Reading the SAR report, I came away questioning the formula’s that the state is using to determine what methods to implement to most effectively protect the manatee’s?

Jaclyn Lopez, a Florida-based attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity said: “The Service’s finding today indicates that we can do more to protect manatees from unnecessary human induced mortality. Our collective efforts have helped the manatee rebound, but the recent die-offs in Indian River Lagoon and LeeCounty, coupled with mortality attributable to needless collisions with watercraft, threatens to undo all of the progress Florida as made toward recovering this iconic animal.”

What can you do? Well, stay informed for one, and let your elected officials know that you are concerned. Keep and eye out for manatees if you are a boater, observe No Wake Zones and encourage others to do so too.

The SAR report is an eye opener, atleast it was for me. You can read it here

http://www.fws.gov/northflorida/Manatee/SARS/20091231_FAQs_Florida_manatee_final_SAR.htm

Here is an interesting article about what the Indian River Lagoon die off of manatee’s is partly attributed to, according to Brian Lapointe…
http://news.wfsu.org/post/finding-clues-mass-animal-die-may-play-out-csi-indian-river-lagoon

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