Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How to be Tropical - Like Me!

There's a torrential downpour of rain outside, and I've popped in the 1932 version of the movie "Rain". It's got me thinking about how much I love Florida weather, rain and all. My favorite part is how tropical it feels. I LOVE anything and everything tropical. It's kind of a sickness. Regardless, I'm constantly chasing that tropical feeling, and today I began to think about life before living in Florida. It was a lot harder to 'be tropical', but I managed. I've compiled a list of how anyone can make life feel more like life on the islands.

1) RELAX! I mean... relax. Before any of the following list will matter, you have to get the state of mind. Go with the flow, enjoy life, and accept everyone. Follow the official Key West philosophy, "All people are created equal members of ONE HUMAN FAMILY"

2) MUSIC. Music is key. It's a universal language, and you don't need words to speak it. There are many types of music that convey a tropical feel. Some do it by their instruments, be it a steel drum or a ukulele. Other music does it by the voice; and some do it by their lyrics. The following are some of the best songs and albums to get tropical!

  • Bob Marley & The Wailers album "Legend".
  • Ziggy Marley albums "Dragonfly", "Love is my Religion" and "Family Time". Ziggy is the only of Bob Marley's children to follow in a similar style of Reggae.
  • Mishka - albums "Talk About", "Above The Bones" or any of Mishka's tracks. A great new artist.
  • Rebelution's track "Ordinary Girl"
  • The Heptones "Book of Rules"
  • Toots & The Maytals - "Monkey Man" original and remake featuring Gwen Stefani


  • Jimmy Buffet - The ultimate beach bum. Almost any of his albums are great, but "Take the Weather With You" and "License to Chill" are my favorites along with tracks "Fins" and "Changes in Lattitudes, Changes in Attitudes".
  • Kenny Chesney - His music is what pushed me to move to Florida. The entire album "Be As You Are" was a great risk for him but turned out to be a masterpiece. Also listen to "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem", "Keys in the Conch Shell", "Outta Here", "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven", "When The Sun Goes Down" and many many more. His forthcoming "Hemingway's Whiskey" should not disappoint for tropical tunes.
  • Alan Jackson's cover of "Margaritaville" and "5 O'Clock Somewhere", both featuring Jimmy Buffet.
  • Clay Walker's "Mexico" and "Then What?"
  • Garth Brooks "Two Pina Coladas"
  • George Strait "The Seashores of Old Mexico"
  • Howard Livingston "Blame it on the Margaritas"
  • Toby Keith's "Good to Go to Mexico"
  • Zac Brown Band's "Toes" and "Where the Boat Leaves From"
  • Jo Dee Messina's cover of the Bob Marley tune "One Love"


  • Aimee Allen's "On Vacation" and her cover of Sublime's "Santeria"
  • Jack Johnson tracks "Banana Pancakes", "Good People", "The Horizon has been Defeated" and "Wasting Time".
  • Jason Mraz, "I'm Yours" and the cover versions by Ten Feet and Sindre Dybvikstrand


  • Raven Simone - "Under The Sea"
  • Colbie Cailat's version of "Kiss the Girl"
  • Fergie featuring Rita Marley - "Mary Jane Shoes"
  • Hayden Panettiere - "Wake Up Call"
  • Jordan Pruitt - "One Love"
  • Jump 5 - "Aloha, E Komo Mai"
  • Steve Rushton - "Everything I Want"

NO DOUBT (a league of their own)

  • "World Go Round"
  • "Beauty Contest"
  • "Leftovers"
  • "New Friend"
  • "Underneath It All" featuring Lady Saw and the 'Rocksteady' album
  • "Now That You Got It" by Gwen Stefani and featuring Damian Jr. Gong Marley


  • Blondie's "The Tide is High"
  • Harry Nilsson's "Coconut"
  • Rupert Holmes - "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)"


  • Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and cover version by Jason Castro
  • Sean Na'auao's "Drop Baby Drop"
  • Tia Carrere's cover of "Sing"


  • Zulu 9.30's "Era"
  • Special AKA's "Jungle Music"
  • Asa - "Jailer"

Use these songs to make the perfect tropical mix. Also, anything instrumental with some steel drums.

3) FOOD - The flavors of the islands are always within reach. Fruits like mango, banana, coconut, pineapple, strawberry, orange, papaya and lime are all great to eat as is, in a smoothie, or to garnish other food. Jerk seasoning and hot peppers like jalapeno and habanero are great to bring the islands to your taste buds.

You should also know how to make a key lime pie. It's a great tropical quick fix.

  • 1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 egg yolks, (whites not used)
  • 1/2 cup of key lime juice
  • 1 9-inch graham cracker pie crust

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees. Mix egg, key lime juice and sweetened condensed milk until completely blended. Pour into pie crust. Bake 15 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate. Serve cold. Use green gel cake topping to outline the pie and fill the break between the pie and the crust. Use lime slices to garnish. To make it extra tropical, sprinkle coconut flakes on top of the pie before baking. It's ridiculously easy and tastes better than most restaurants key lime pie.

4) DECOR - I have only one word for you. WICKER! But if I had other words, they would be plants, palms and flowers... and the color green.

5) ATTIRE - Throw on your favorite pair of shorts and cheapest pair of flip flops. Whether it's 100 degrees out or there's 2 feet of snow on the ground, flip flops make the man.

6) MOVIES - If you need a tropical pick-me-up, try popping in a movie set in a tropical destination. Some of my favorite are:

  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall
  • Fool's Gold
  • In Her Shoes
  • The Birdcage
  • Rain
  • 50 First Dates
  • 6 Days, 7 Nights
  • Lilo & Stitch
  • Finding Nemo
  • The Little Mermaid

Also, you can always pop in an episode of "The Golden Girls". Tropical AND gay!

This is all I have for today. Thought I'd help everyone out with a little bit of island expertise. I know it's heavy on the music, but that's where I draw most of my inspiration.

SHAKA to all!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I am ridiculously clumsy. I do not know why I cannot stop dropping things. I really think it's due to a lack of focus. The older I get, the worse my attention span is. Today, for instance, I had a $500 catering order. The order consisted of 80 half sandwiches on 5 trays, and 1 tray with 40 cookies and brownies. I stacked the trays 3 and 3 high on a roll cart and wrapped the trays with plastic wrap so they wouldn't slide off of each other. On top, I layed a brown paper shopping bag with 40 bags of chips, 40 pickles, 40 plates, and 80 napkins. When the customer arrived to pick up the order, she asked, "do people usually tip?". Yes! Yes! They always tip!, I thought. "Um, well everyone is different. Some do, some don't," I said. Honestly, I never expect tips from people picking up an order.
"Okay, I'll tip," she replied.
"Okie, Thanks," I said happily. She added $43 to the bill, which I thought was very generous.
I helped her out to her van, which was wrapped in logos from a local radio station. The customer was the head of promotions for the station and holding a lunch. Also, this was the same radio station that had spoken out about our restaurant on their morning show and blog a few months earlier. An incident with forgotten cookies led to a huge discussion about how we were not customer friendly... However, before they finished their morning show, I knocked on the door of the station with an apology letter from our regional manager, replacement cookies, and bonus baked goods in tow. We had redeemed ourselves with the station, but one false move could put us back on the air. I steadied the bag of chips and pickles on top of the two stacks of trays to keep them from tipping. Focus. focus. I thought as I pushed the rickety cart over the gravel.
"Do you want me to take that bag? Is it heavy?" she asked me.
"It's fine, I mean, it's not heavy." She took the bag off the top of the cart anyway and walked around the side of the van. focus. focus. foooocus. hey, that's a pretty bird- CRASH! In the three seconds that my mind wandered, the first stack of sandwiches tumbled onto the pavement. Luckily, all the lids stayed on.
"I'm so sorry," I apologized. I flipped the trays back over. Chicken Salad was visibly all over the inside.
"They look okay. I can fix them up back at the station," she said.
"Are you sure? I can take them back inside and make them better, or new ones?" I pressed.
She said, "It's fine. Just put them towards the front. I don't want them sliding too much. I'm not a very good driver."
"Probably a better driver than I push carts," I said.

A few weeks earlier, I was doing a breakfast delivery. The owner of my restaurant was providing free breakfast and lunch for a dentist and his staff. I had delivered to this dentist before, and he always held these meetings at his home. It was a beautiful house in a fairly new development just up the road. When I arrived, he and his daughter were loading up their car. I waved, took out my cart and opened my trunk to load up the food. When I lifted the trunk, I discovered one of the lids to the bagel trays had come loose. I tried to fix it, but the bagels ended up tumbling all over my trunk. Mind you, my trunk is not a clean place. It's filled with dust, dirt from the many plants I have purchased over the last few years, and even some kitty litter from when I moved the cats down from Philadelphia. I turned around to find the dentist standing behind me.
"Just scoop 'em up and put them inside," he said.
"Sir, I can run back and get another tray. It's a five minute drive and I can have the staff put together another tray before I arrive." I said.
"No no, it's okay. Reduce, reuse, recycle," he responded.
"But..but my trunk is so dirty."
"It's fine. Just wipe them off." I did as I was told and set up the continental breakfast inside his kitchen.

When I came back for lunch, I had been instructed by my regional manager to drop a receipt with the total amount that they would have paid if the catering had not been free. Tacky, I know. To me, if you donate something, you don't turn around and show how much it was worth. Instead of presenting the receipt, I shoved it inside one of the boxes behind the sandwiches. As I turned to leave, the dentist was again standing behind me.
"Hi sir. You're all set. How was breakfast?" I asked.
"It was great," he said. "Everyone loved it. Especially the bagels"

Point being, I need to be a little - scratch that - a lot more careful so I don't keep ending up with a mess of food in my hands and an apology on my tongue.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Marley & Me Moments

I haven't written a blog since I adopted my youngest cat, Kirby. It was called "The ABC's of naming a kitten" and it's short content was a list of 26 possible names for Kirby. I asked people to vote for their favorite. Kirby was not on the list, and neither was 'mama-se, mama-sa, mama-ku-sa' as one of my friends suggested. Somehow after that, life shifted, my priorities shifted, or possibly everyone just moved their asses over to facebook. Kirby is turning 3 next month. Regardless, I'm back to blogging... nothing too in depth... nothing ground breaking... just me.

If you don't know me.... how bored are you to be reading this? But to sum me up, I'm a fool. I can't keep my mouth shut. I make the same mistakes repeatedly and hardly notice and rarely care... i try to not care about the little things in life... SHAKA! Go with the flow. I want to be like that, but at the same time I definitely overreact and flip out about unimportant things. I'm quirky, annoying, but loyal til the end. I'm not a good driver, and I love anything that makes me feel tropical. The rest, you'll have to figure out for yourself.

I have been super into listening to audiobooks recently. It's fun because while reading a book I can be cleaning, tanning, driving, shopping, working, burning calories, paying bills, writing, playing a rousing round of solitaire, and just about anything that doesn't require me to listen. Most of the books I listen to are light, funny, fluffy non-fiction by comedians, actors and hilarious authors. A few weeks ago, I thought I'd give "Marley & Me" a try. I had kind of liked the movie, but I don't remember being overly emotional about it... This was most likely because I was on a first date with someone who, although an awesome guy, I was not attracted to in the least. I was more focused on how to end the date without misleading him. Anyway, as my audiobook neared it's end, I found myself getting emotional about the impending death of Marley the dog. Neal Patrick Harris calmly narrated the tale and described Marley's back and forth fight with the end of life.

My boyfriend, Diogo, arrived home from work the night I was finishing this book to find an empty apartment. He looked high and low for me, until he heard a faint sobbing. He followed the noise into the walk-in closet. As he entered, he found me in a huddled mass on the floor, clutching our oldest cat Fozzy to my chest, with tears rolling down my face.

My overwhelming reaction to the audiobook sent me straight back into the arms of Tori Spelling. I took safe haven in her new book (in hardback, ugh). And don't worry, I have no qualms about reading Tori. I declared a shame-free zone years ago when a little t.v. show called Hannah Montana captivated me. It was, as I had hoped, a good but light read. Today, I had about 20 pages left and took it with me to the pool for some tan time after the two weeks of unwavering rain. As I neared the end, Tori described a new dog she adopted this past Christmas eve. The dog was over ten years old, and had never lived inside. She and Dean decided to give the dog a home in his final years. They had an amazing christmas, and their son Liam immediately bonded with the dog. Then, the day after Christmas, the dog gets sick and x-rays reveal that the dog ate a bread twist tie a week before and it was tearing up his insides. and then BAM! - the dog is dead. They gave him a family for his final 24 hours. I had to fight back tears to avoid a public Marley&Me moment at the pool. My attempts to hold my tears turned into loud heaves, which caught the attention of the other pool patrons. It is only now that I finally feel shame.

Oh Well.... Next up on my reading list, "Tip It!" by Maggie Griffin.