Miranda’s Musings-

We all need to find the time rest and recharge. It is easy to let the stress of the holiday season get to you. We must show ourselves enough self-love to allow time and space for resting and recharging. If we do not show ourselves this love, we get resentful and that negativity will ripple out to everyone that you interact with. Every action is meaningful and sends out a ripple in to the world. Will your ripples be predominantly positive or negative? Every moment is an new opportunity to send out those positive ripples. Try it! You may be very surprised at what new, positive things may ripple your way. Still feeling stuck? Start at square one! Where is square one? -Nature, nature is square one! Go to the ocean, breath in deeply. Go to the neighborhood park and feel your bare feet on the earth. Don’t just take my word for it, this song by Xavier Rudd has helped me remember this lesson many times!

Marathon, Florida in December-

As far as ebb and flow goes, the Florida Keys in December was all flow! I felt that this holiday season really put everyone to the test here in Marathon, Florida. Locals call the end of December “hell week” for a reason! I booked myself for 4 plus weeks straight with no days off… great idea… NOT! The only thing that saved me was 2 terrible weather days that caused us to cancel our tours on Christmas eve and day. It was a blessing in disguise for me because I really needed some ebb time! Striking that balance between work, play and rest is a lifelong pursuit. Although the wind was persistent throughout December, there were still MANY beautiful days to get out and enjoy Florida Keys Water activities! Especially since we saw the most days over 80 on record for the Florida Keys this December 2016. It definitely beats shoveling snow!

Florida Keys Tides

The 3rd supermoon in a row happened on December 13th, the tides were not nearly as extreme as what we saw in October and November with the Seasonal King tides. Although we may have to contend with high winds in December the tides have blessed kayakers with their cooperation. There are certain times of the year that kayakers must be very cautious in planning trips at low tide. Late summer, for instance, is a time that I may only be able to sneak in one tour a day to avoid the dead low tide, which can make the coolest parts of the mangroves and seagrass beds inaccessible due to lack of water! Really no major concerns like this going on in December and I am OK with that! To the right are pictures of one of our snorkeling adventures. This is what low tide was looking like on the sandbar in mid December. And still warm enough for snorkeling!

Florida Keys Weather

As I have mentioned there were just a couple of days that were called off this month due to weather. In between all that windiness, we were able to get in several Hidden Mangrove Oasis Tours, meaning that the wind calmed down to a light breeze between 5-12 mph(great kayaking winds!). We had a couple of times where the wind switched from its normal North-east “winter” direction and came in strong from the SE! This was great for windcrafters, but not great for the mangrove tunnel dwellers like myself. The south east winds blew TONS of dead sea grass into the the mangrove tunnel on our Florida Keys Sampler Tour, making it impassible! The seagrass gets so jammed up in there it is like trying to paddle thru concrete! Luckily, I keep a close eye on these types of conditions! You really have to roll with what mother nature serves up and that is why we have multiple locations, so we can choose which trip will be best for the conditions of the day! The last month of 2016 was unseasonably warm, even for the tropics! Some days were feeling almost reminiscent of the summer heat but the wind kept you feeling comfortable. Although most of December was pretty dry, we definitely had our fair share of scattered showers, no big concerns about thunderstorms though, which is always a plus!

Florida Keys Wildlife

In December, we had so many amazing Florida Keys wildlife encounters! The manatees have been pretty consistent on our Florida Keys Sampler and Hidden Mangrove Oasis tours! We had some really great manatee meetings around the holidays! We took advantage of the wind calming down in the evenings and did a rare Sunset & moonlight tour through the mangrove tunnels, where we saw a huge snook(fish) hunting among the arm-like roots of the red mangroves. He was completely out of the water and thrashing around after some tasty treats(smaller fish). I did not capture this on camera, unfortunately. It is always more important to make sure my guests get to see and experience the wildlife than it is to get the perfect photo! On days where the wind laid down we took advantage and headed for the Hidden Mangrove Oasis. I was totally in disbelief at how teeming with life this tiny hidden mangrove tunnel was in December! Every square inch on this trail is alive! There were uncountable numbers of spiny and serpent sea stars everywhere you looked. My favorites are the sea slugs! I just can’t get enough of them! We have at least 4 different species of sea slugs in this one little niche of the Florida Keys Ecosystem. This December the Shaggy sea slug graced us with his/her presence! The shaggy sea hare is a cousin of the spotted sea hare which are very common on the seagrass flats. They are both hermaphroditic, algae grazers. The shaggy sea slug inks a deep, dark, red wine color when in distress, while the spotted sea hare tends to have a more deep purple ink.
To the right from top to bottom- Green moray eel, shaggy sea hare, serpent star, spiny star/berghia sea slug/lettuce sea slug.
below- manatee encounter

AquaVentures Green Tips

Making use of produce scraps, 2 ways- veggie broth for cooking and veggie puree for dog food.

One of my new favorite quotes is-
“The true aim of education is not knowledge but action.”
-William Ralph Inge

After marinating on this concept for some time, I found that the dialogue of my tours was shifting. In a good way! It is hard to describe but I found myself having more meaningful and engaging conversations with my guest on the topics of pollution and conservation! So, I feel to teach, you must first do. I have been digging deep and looking at the ugly truths of my personal and business “footprint”. My concept of footprint includes any negative impacts socially, ecologically, culturally etc. that are part of the ripple that I send out into the world. It is important to remind yourself – this is a journey, an evolution. Nature teaches us that evolving does not happen overnight! So I am thinking- how can I get creative? What else can I do? I think everyone needs to follow this line of thought, ask questions, get out of the box, let it marinate. I came up with nothing for about a month and then slowly ideas started to trickle in! I wanted to share my latest simple idea to cut down on waste in my household-

One of the major concerns in our household is food waste! We LOVE food! I must have fresh produce at all times but it is hard to find uses for every part of the fruits and veggies. These fresh ingredients have a short shelf life and I know I am not the only one who has lost some prized produce in the depths of the fridge only to rediscover them after it is too late to salvage!
My idea was to use all the veggie trimmings and excess produce that needed used, first as a broth for cooking and then as a puree for the doggies. I roughly chopped broccoli stems, carrot ends, cabbage (that we had run out of things to do with), sweet potato etc. I decided to make a veggie broth first! Since we love cooking from scratch, broths are always a good thing to have around! I just dumped all the veggies into boiling water, reduced heat and let simmer for 40 minutes up to a couple of hours. I strained the broth and put it in a recycled glass honey jar. Now this is where it gets funky- I threw all the cooked veggies into my beloved VitaMix and made them into a puree. I then portioned out the puree into muffin tins, and popped them in the freezer, within a couple of hours they were frozen! Our dogs are insanely spoiled and get ground turkey for dinner, now they can be even more spoiled and get a healthy dose of veggies with their turkey! I just throw one veggie puree cube in the microwave with their turkey and they LOVE it!

Step 1- Next time you are cleaning out your fridge/pantry throw all the veggie trimmings and leftover produce on the cutting board and give it a rough chop.

Step 2- Boil some water on the stove( I put enough water to just barely cover the veggies)

Step 3- Throw veggie scraps in boiling water, reduce heat and let simmer for 40 minutes to an hour.

Step 4-Strain off the veggie broth and store in fridge for cooking, then throw the cooked veggies in a vitamix or food processor until the veggies are the consistency of a puree.

Step 5-Grease some muffin tins and spoon the puree into the muffin tins and pop them in the freezer for about 2-4 hours.

Step 6- pop the frozen veggie puree cubes out of the muffin tin and into a container to store in the Freezer

Step 7- Dethaw/heat up veggie puree to make dry dog food more appealing or to give your dogs a little extra dose of veggies/fiber!

December in the-Florida Keys- Events

Happy December and stay tuned for a recap of the last month in 2016, coming soon!