Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Spring Blooms & Milk Glass

Spring is here! After such an awful winter I was so ready to embrace all that spring has to offer. For me, nothing gets me in the spring mood more than planting some spring blooms.

This year I had my heart set on planting in vintage Milk Glass.   Until fairly recently I hadn't heard of Milk Glass. I knew that I wanted to do some sort of indoor planting but wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do.  So I headed over to Pinterest and stumbled upon a few beautiful Milk Glass floral arrangements that inspired me to create an arrangement of my own.

First thing to do was to hunt down some of the stuff.  Some good places to look are at thrift stores, antique stores and yard sales. It is very popular and has almost a cult following of collectors from what I gather. 

So one Saturday Afternoon Mike and I went antiquing in search of some Milk Glass.  The hunt for Milk Glass ended up being most of the fun! Its out there, but sometimes you have to dig for it.  Each piece is a little different. Some is totally opaque white while others are softly translucent.  The range in price was about $1 - $15, depending on the maker, size and condition of the piece. My favorite pieces I picked up are a Westmoreland Grape pattern planter and a Fenton hobnail vase.

I decided to on planting Tulips, Daffodils and Hyacinth.  The pictures were taken over a few weeks.  Once planted, all the flowers started shooting up right away.  I was a bit worried since none of the planters had drainage, but all varieties seemed to flourish.  

I love how these pieces came together. They're each unique and beautiful in their own right, but put together with some spring blooms and I'm really loving the brightness they bring into my living room!

Tulips and Daffodils are immediately what I think of when I think of spring flowers and these did not disappoint! But, I think my favorite of the bunch was actually the Hyacinth.  The smell is absolutely amazing!

I really love the way these planters turned out! It never ceases to amaze me how much fresh flowers can liven up a room and put you in a good mood.  I only wish I had known about Milk Glass for my wedding. So many cute ideas! I bought several vases that didn't end up working out for this project but I will definitely be finding uses for them!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cruising the Keys, Key Largo

After 3 days in Key West we shoved off and headed to our last destination, Key Largo.

The drive on Overseas Highway was just as beautiful as it was coming down.  We stopped off on the side of the road just before getting on the Seven Mile Bridge to get a few pictures.

The last place we stayed was Point of View RV Resort in Key Largo.  We had a beautiful bay side spot overlooking the marina.  During low tide there was a little tide pool right outside our campsite so naturally I made a few starfish friends.  The resort is brand new and very clean. 

The best part about Key Largo was the snorkeling! The last day of the trip we visited John Pennenkamp Coral Reef State Park and went on a snorkeling tour. The tour was 2 ½ hours and visited the Grecian Rocks Coral Reef.

We were able to rent all the equipment right from the park which was convenient. Since it was the winter and water temps were under 70 degrees they were highly suggesting renting a wet suit. I thought under 70! I’m used to water temps in the 50's, maybe 60's in the height of the summer at New England Beaches. I reluctantly listened to their recommendation and in the end I was glad I did. We were in the water for about an hour and a half and it kept me toasty the whole time. I’m not sure I would've lasted as long in the water if I didn't have a wetsuit.

There are several different reefs that the snorkel tours visit. The captain makes the decision which location you go to based on the conditions that day. I was really hoping we would go to Dry Docks Reef so we could see the Christ of the Abyss statue but the captain advised it was too windy to have seen it that day, bummer!

When we got to the reef the first thing you notice is the gorgeous, vibrant color contrast in the water. There are stripes of turquoise and deep blue. The turquoise is a sandy bottom and the deep blue was sea grass.

The coolest thing was how shallow the reefs were! The depths range from 20ft at their deepest to as low as zero in some spots at low tide. It puts you right up close so you get a great view of all the sea life and coral. It does give you the sensation that you can stand up and touch the bottom, which is strongly prohibited. The reefs are protected sanctuaries and you would be potentially killing the life below you if you stood on it. So make sure you keep that in mind. My favorite thing we saw was the schools of colorful Parrot Fish.

Although we only did the snorkeling, the park also offers camping, two beaches, glass bottom boat, scuba tours and boat rentals.

After snorkeling we cleaned up and went to dinner at Sundowners where we enjoyed Key Lime cocktails on the patio and our last sunset on the keys.  We had a great time on the Florida Keys and definately have plans to return!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cruising the Keys, Key West

After 3 days in Big Pine, we packed up the RV and caravanned to our next location, Key West! We camped at Boyd's Campground.  This time we had a beautiful waterfront spot on the harbor.   

We arrived in Key West early enough that we decided to take a ride on the Conch Train, which takes you on a tour around old Key West.  It was nice because we got an overview of the area, learned some history and were able to decide how we wanted to spend the rest of our time there.

The next day we went to Smathers Beach.  This was another beautiful white sand beach.  There were chairs and umbrellas available for rent along with Hobie Cats. 

After the beach we cleaned up, had dinner and then headed to Mallory Square for the sunset celebration! The sunset celebration was my favorite part of Key West.  Each night about two hours prior to sunset there is a festival on the sea wall behind Mallory Square consisting of street performers, artists, musicians, food and drinks.  It is a gathering place for both tourist and locals to see the most amazing sunset on the keys.  This night was a bit disappointing because it was really cloudy there wasn't a sunset.  We did stay for a drink and watched some of the street performers. 

After that we walked to the famous Duval Street, aka the main drag that contains shops, restaurants and bars.  It is basically pub crawl mecca.  They have a very "relaxed" open container law.  Many of the bars have souvenir to-go cups.  My favorite was Fat Tuesday which had an entire wall of frozen drinks.  Miami Vice, please!

The next day we did the most touristy thing and visited the Southernmost Point! I had always seen people on facebook posting pictures in front of this thing.  When we got there there was literally a line down the street to take a picture with it.  Kind of ridiculous but we did it anyways. One of those pictures you want to have.

Since the previous night was a bust in the sunset department, we went back to Mallory Square for a do-over.  We then encountered the most amazing sunset celebration act, the Key West Cat Man.  He is French and you can hardly understand what he is saying as he tells jokes and his cats are jumping through tambourines and rings of fire but trust me, this is a Key West MUST-SEE!  He is located all the way down at the end of the pier in front of the Westin.

After the cat man performance was the most amazing sunset.  A funny thing about this boat picture.  When we were on our Honeymoon, Mike had taken this beautiful picture of a catamaran in front of the sun as it was setting. There were a few sunset tour boats out in front of us and the woman next to me was complaining the whole time that the boat was in the way of the sun.  I felt like shaking her and saying "Its going to be an amazing picture!" As the sun crept closer and closer to the Gulf it got quiet on the Pier and then when it finally set everyone erupted into cheers and clapping.  Such a cool experience.

Stay tuned for next week when I'll wrap up the series with our experiences in Key Largo!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cruising the Keys, Fort Lauderdale to Big Pine Key

For the past few years my parents have driven their RV from Massachusetts to Florida and spent a few weeks "Cruising the Keys".  This year they invited Mike and I down to join them.  While our jobs kept us from the cross country RV trip, we flew down to Fort Lauderdale, rented a car and met up with them for a week.  We camped in three different places on the Keys.  Since I took so many pictures and we had such a great time I decided to make a little mini-series about our trip. First up was Big Pine Key.

The drive from Fort Lauderdale to the Keys was beautiful. Tons and tons of bridges with turquoise water on both sides.  There was so much to look at.  It had been so cold at home, driving with the windows down was pure heaven.
The first stop on our trip was Sunshine Key RV Resort (which is technically part of Big Pine Key). 

The campground is basically its own island and we had a beach-side site. Mike and I love camping but have only camped in New England. It was really awesome to have a Palm Tree in our camp site!

One of the things on our Big Pine Key to-do list was to get a glimpse of the Key Deer! Key Deer are an endangered small species of deer that only live on the Keys.  We drove around for a while and were lucky enough to spot this little guy! You can't really tell from the picture but they are probably about half the size of a normal deer. Adorable, mission accomplished.
Next up was a visit to Bahia Honda State Park. Home to an incredible beach and the famous Old Bahia Honda Bridge.

The Keys aren't particularly known for their beaches, but this one is worth the trip! In fact, it was voted #1 Beach in the US in 1992! Woot! They are very proud of that. But really, I can see why. White sand, warm turquoise water, snorkeling, kayaking. Paradise.

We spent the day at the beach and then took a walk to the bridge. The famous Henry Flagler railroad bridge once ran through the park.  A portion of it was preserved and opened to the public. 


From the Bridge you get beautiful views of both sides of the park.  Definitely take the hike up there if you get a chance!
Stay tuned for part two of our trip which I'll be posting soon all about our experiences in Key West!