Florida Fun Friday – Reptiles in the Rain

Meet Bruce, the Black Mamba.

Another rainy weekend in Florida…what to do, what to do? A couple weeks ago I tentatively agreed to visit the Reptile Discovery Center in DeLand, a place I never knew existed, even though I lived in DeLand for 4 years. Just off International Speedway, this little spot feels like a snake museum and would have been really awesome if I hadn’t been so nauseous and tense the whole time. I am extremely scared of snakes. Still, I found the place to be enjoyable and educational and would recommend it to anybody. If you happen to like snakes and other reptiles, you should definitely visit!

I was recently asked to make an amigurumi Black Mamba and had pictured myself making a happy little black snake. Come to find out, black mambas are not actually black….nor are they the happiest of snakes. Deadly? Yes, very. Happy? Not so much. Apparently Black Mambas get their name from the black color in the inside of their mouths.

What was the very first snake I came across at the Reptile Discovery Center? Yep! A Black Mamba. It was more brownish-gray than anything…a pretty nondescript color that I found difficult to replicate. I ended up using a rusty brown cotton yarn mixed with a shiny silver bamboo yarn and the result was really cool! It’s not entirely accurate. The Mamba had more of a brownish back and a silvery underside, but I do like the way the mixed yarns looked like actual snake skin.

The Reptile Discovery Center is home to Medtoxin, billed as “a large-scale commercial venom production facility that collects venom from an array of venomous snakes for use in pharmaceuticals and medical research.” It’s really intense and interesting to watch the extractions. If you want to see what it’s like, here’s a short video we took while visiting.

Other than the extractions and the galleries of the most venomous snakes in the world including the gorgeous green mamba, cobras, pythons, boa constrictors, rattlesnakes of all kinds and many more, there is also a trail where you’ll find alligators, tortoises, many types of lizards, a basilisk, and turtles. There are bug spray stations available which you should definitely utilize. It was Deer Fly-crazy in the woods. Plus, before the venom extraction, we were given the opportunity to hold a baby alligator and a few big snakes.

The experience didn’t cure me of my snake fears, but I am proud of myself for having faced them….even if I did need ice cream afterwards. I’m also proud of myself for making this snake. I procrastinated as long as possible but, like the Reptile Discovery Center, I was glad I did it, once I’d done it.

I have another fear of blank white surfaces. Maybe I should go to the newly opened Hobby Lobby in Orange City this weekend, pick up a giant canvas, and fill it full of paint. What fears can you face this weekend?





Florida Fun Friday: Rain?

What does one do in Florida when it’s stormy outside? Crochet! That’s probably what I’ll spend most of my time doing this weekend. I am loading up on inventory for my first craft show. Today, feeling bummed out by bad weather, lack of sleep (teething baby), and just general frustration about stupid things, I went to the craft store and did some yarn-shopping therapy (cheers me up every time!) Now I have exactly the perfect colors to make some adorable turtles and a couple more hot air balloons (my new FAVORITE thing!) I would take pictures and post them, but today’s not the day for good pictures. No rain on the product!

Other than crocheting, this rainy weekend will probably entail an IKEA trip for new lighting in our kitchen and maybe the hanging of billions of pictures for our picture frame wall project (long overdue!)

Since my weekend will be pretty blah and uneventful, I’ll share a project I did with my three-year-old two nights ago. I’ve been looking for inspiration in strange places lately, trying to be extra attentive to the world around me. While cutting some baby bok choy for dinner I noticed that the cut part looked like flowers! People try really hard to cut vegetables into flower shapes and here were perfect rose garnishes ready to go with one chop!

Jho and I always have fun playing with my stamps, so I thought we could use the baby bok choy ends for some print-making. We started rummaging through the pantry to find some other foods that might make good stamps. Leftover red onions made great concentric circles. We threw in a couple banana slices and leaves, too. 

I unrolled a section of white newsprint (purchased very inexpensively at IKEA) and poured out some tempera paint and went to town.

The results weren’t beautiful, but it was fun and messy and different. Next time, we’ll  paint with our feet.  Happy weekend!

Friday Fun: Something new for inspiration’s sake.

I have hated Jeremiah’s Italian Ice for many, many years, yet I’d never tried it before. Terrible, I know. And I hated that establishment for petty, stupid reasons that have nothing to with the place at all! So for this Fun Friday, as a way of letting go of the past and because it was really hot and sounded awesome, I took Jho there as a fun after-school surprise. And it was delicious. I loved it.

Years ago I opened Trio Gelato and Desserts with my best friend. We made the most delicious gelato (Italian Ice CREAM) in town. Around the same time Jeremiah’s Italian ICE opened. They are not the same product, but no one knows the difference and, for the next three years, all I did was explain to people that we do not make gelati (swirls of soft serve ice cream and  italian ice), we make gelato (artisan Italian ice cream). I also watched as people waited in long lines around the corner for Jeremiah’s Ice while our poor little under-funded shop sat quietly hidden down the hallway of a dead strip mall. I know they are in little way comparable. We were a wholesale, not retail business. Our products are completely different. But I just had this weird snobby competitiveness that kept me from enjoying gelati. Until now!

It was almost too refreshing. We faced the terrible brain freeze bravely and were rewarded with many delicious dripping bites of blueberry and mango creamy goodness. I had serious nostalgia remembering that my very favorite popsicle as a kid were the ones with the ice cream in the middle. Now I just wish the place weren’t so close to my son’s school because now I will want it every day.

The swirls and pretty colors also reminded me that I’ve been meaning to try out this awesome crocheting technique I just pinned on Pinterest!

Find the tutorial for this technique here.

It seems like the perfect way to crochet a zebra without annoying jogs in color between stripes when crocheting in the round. I will be trying it out soon! Doesn’t it look just like Jho’s blueberry Italian Ice? Goes to show, inspiration is everywhere if we just keep our eyes open! Are you feeling  a little low on inspiration lately? If so, check out this little free online inspiration class with my favorite blogger, Alisa Burke. While you’re at it, you could be like me and read her every blog post in one night.  I seriously want to be her when I “grow up.” I hope to take her online watercolor class at some point and if you’re into sewing, you must check out her sewing book! It looks like it would be so amazing and freeing! Here’s a link to her inspiration class.

This weekend in Central Florida looks to be beautiful and a bit hot….the perfect weather for a trip to Jeremiah’s Ice. Go have one! I recommend the mango, though I intend to try Citrus next time (also my favorite sorbet flavor when I used to be the one running the ice cream machine 🙂

I finished my Fun Friday outing early this week as the kick-off to a Southwest Florida weekend with my Mom. We just went to a wonderful place, the new Children’s Museum of Naples (C’MON for short! Cute, right?) Movies, splash pads, and a giant Easter Egg hunt are planned, as well. I’ve already found other inspirational things to share with you, but it will have to wait. Like Alisa Burke recommends…sometimes you just need to get out from behind your computer!

Happy inspiration-hunting this weekend!