Seashells for South Fla Moms

A two and a half hour flight out of Detroit or Cleveland and a two and a half hour drive to an island south of Miami lands me at my mom’s. She recently departed from her estate on Ohio’s north coast.

The new guest room has cute seashells. After all of the planing, boating and pulse of the tropical sun I am zapped. There I can toss on a long sleeve shirt, fuzzy socks and can take an afternoon siesta in the sheets.

Once recharged guests can throw on swimwear, grab a beach hat, a towel and head over to the pool for some r&r.

Soda Pup likes to greet guests at the gate.

Fifty miles more of US 1 and a trip across the seven mile bridge puts everyone on the island of Key West. Fun nights with my mom around the corner from my old loft included drag queen entertainment.

She wants to start driving the boat.

Summer Luvin’ No. 7

There aren’t many other pieces of gear that scream “a new season is here” (for a man or a woman) than a new pair of Nikeys.

I slid on an ultra, lightweight pair of Women’s Free TR 8 Training Shoes to take on Summer 2019.

All whites offset the heat. Toss on a ballcap or visor to block out the sun no matter the location of the workout and celebrate. Health is wealth.

A Father’s Day Escape Everglades City's Rod and Gun Club

There was a time during history, my retired father put on his cushy white New Balance sport shoes, khaki shorts and Florida Fishermen’s cotton t-shirt and placed me and my four-year old nephew into the back seat of a 2012 Ford Edge. We drove the two-lane stretch of US One out of Marathon and the isles of Islamorada and into Florida’s swampland for a weekend getaway of my dad’s dreams. 

My nephew and I, both being Florida-born, Florida Crackers enjoyed the endless tourism experiences the Sunshine State has to offer.

I sat in the back seat staring out of the window. I had always suffered motion sickness and this trip marked a year out of the ocean from diving the Florida Keys Wreck Trek for assignment. Even though I appeared a poster child for fitness my nervous system was shredded. 

My Dad and the family Ford station wagon

This escape to this antiquated, isolated hotel applauded on the website as “a stay for the adventured and the cultured,” (cultured to the likes of former guest Ernest Hemingway) I had already made the voyage to twice and knew my Dad would relish in the natural surroundings.

The 1800s era hostel is so hidden and reclusive city slickers are urged not to bother making reservations because they simply will not be impressed.

Back to the destination: Everglades City. During every north coast winter storm, this South Florida City will show up as the sunniest and hottest place in the nation. This charming mark is home to the Rod and Gun Club, a hotel so historic, guests are not allowed to stay inside due to fear of fire. The rooms are not up-to-code for guests to stay in.

Nearly half a dozen presidents have wintered at this gem of a getaway. Check-in is allowed only with cash at the jaws of an ancient alligator.

Old alligator skins decorate the walls to set the ambiance for the adventure that lies ahead.

Guests sleep in modern cabins equipped with air-conditioning and private porches that surround the remarkable original hotel.

My nephew outside of Cabins forty-six and forty-seven that we stayed in.

These units are for rest only.

My Dad outside of one of the modern cabins.

Regardless of the in-ground pool and pool table amenities which make most resorts extremely attractive to any child age twelve or under, an adventure of another kind awaits.

The surrounding swamp is home to exotic Florida wildlife.

Wildlife which can all be witnessed from aboard one of two modes of transport.

Airboats and The Swamp Buggy.

Airboats and ear muffs take the place of the roller coasters and Mikey Mouse ears found farther north in the state at Disney World’s Orlando theme park. Here, there aren’t any crowds and barely any pavement exists.

Piggy Back rides are the chosen mode of transport in this territory where overpriced soda, souvenirs and popsicles aren’t an issue.

Any exhaustion from alligator viewing is met with a welcome nap just like Grandpa encourages, teaches and often shows by example.

Precisely what Father’s Day is all about. Escaping the daily grind to spend time with your family making memories that last a lifetime. In this instance, we hope they cause room for adventure, followed by a good meal and much deserved nap.

Bon Islander by boat, by ferry or cute little pudde jumper

My island client met me at 8 am at his waterfront condos and told me if I wanted to leave the island I needed to find “Bill” and go by jet ski — or take the plane.

I was onboard the “Bon Islander” by 9:30 am.

A vacation to the Lake Erie Islands, especially Middle Bass Island, is called, marketed and deemed as an “Adventure Vacation”.

419-285-6121 to book a reservation. This 21-acre Caribbean-style resort does not resemble Sandals.

Call 419-734-5400 to come by plane.


Did Irma Wreck the Wrecks 2005 Hurricane Dennis uprights Spiegel Grove

Anyone with a regulator, mask and snorkel can’t help but wonder, “Did Irma wreck the Florida Keys Wreck Treck?” Back in 2011 while studying the old ships sunk in the seas off the coast of the Florida Keys, I distinctly remember coming across the information that the largest ship sunk intentionally, before the General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, the Speigel Grove, didn’t sink properly and landed upside down with parts of her bow sticking above the ocean’s surface. This in 2001. Read the intriguing report here. Even more interestingly a $.25 M plan to turn her upright also went awry. But, the force of Hurricane Dennis in 2005 turned her upright for divers around the world to enjoy.

View the TDC’s underwater video here.

Here is a look at a couple of unpublished pictures from that 2011 ocean exploration with one of the notable Barracuda that calls the artificial reef home.

In Key Largo, there is also the Benwood.

And in Islamorada, the Duane and the Eagle wrecks are part of the ecosystem.

In another one-hundred and twenty feet of water off the coast of Marathon is the Thunderbolt. Here are pictures from a dive with Castaway Restaurant and Sushi Bar Owner John Mirabella and his dive partner, Adolphus Busch III.

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Busch also sunk a wreck off of the coast of Big Pine, the area hardest hit, which he had named off of his great-grandfather. A great read here.

Seven nautical miles off of the coast of Key West is the mother ship. Organizers of the 523-foot General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, the largest artificial reef to conclude the Florida Keys Wreck Trek sunk in 2009 with marked fanfare, media coverage and unlike the Spiegel Grove, upright.

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Now that the winds have calmed and a massive county clean up is underway, what is the state of these ships? Are the satellite dishes damaged? Is the 250-foot Adolphus Busch Sr. Wreck as smashed and shattered as the structures on the nearby islands? Which diver is hitting the trek to see which ships survived unscathed; and which if any, were demolished?

That’s a lot of heavy metal and that was a lot of force Irma insisted on unleashing through the Caribbean and all the way up Florida’s coastlines. No one was spared from her savagery.

The chance for peril, when out at sea and swimming at extreme depths, is always looming. Doesn’t matter if a Hurricane is gaining strength or not. The TDC reports that all of the islands will open for business Sunday, October 1, 2017. Better find those fins.

EPISODE II Spoonful: is a cupful we're behind the bar! at Joe's Bar spicin' it up

There are instances in life, and on photo shoots, and after interviews where one just grabs for the bottle of Abolsut Peppar and shows the nation one reason why South Bass Island puts the spice in life. We were sent to Joe’s Bar to uncover the lowdown on their twist to a tomato based favorite. The Bloody Mary mix is homemade and includes some worcestershire sauce…

“…and I’ll say the drink has some horseradish but I’m not saying anything else,” manager Marissa Petroff plays up the mystery.

Before grabbing the bottles, pouring, mixing and adding garnish to the mid-day-meal-in-a-cup we sat down and spoke with one of the co-owners islander Brad Olemacher.

The televised broadcast of Josie in Paradise will be determined in October as emergency crews work to restore power and water to South Florida and the Florida Keys. The regularly scheduled program time is 9:30 p on AT&T U-Verse WEYW Channel 19 airing from Key West to Boca Raton. You can always watch here and nationwide on the Ohio X5 ROKU channel. 


EPISODE II Hotels: PIB Condos lakefront and luxe with space for everyone

Whether one buys or rents a luxury waterfront condominium on the Lake Erie Islands, one component is as on point as the ferry schedule, a place to sleep on Put-in-Bay, Middle Bass, and Kelleys is the ticket to paradise all season long. For Episode II of Josie in Paradise Tony White opened the door to Unit 212: a four-bedroom, two bathroom space with a washer and dryer and two lakefront balconies.

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Four units are available to purchase. Many are yours to rent. A side note, to note, regarding beds and headcounts when booking at most Put-in-Bay resorts, or anywhere in general on the LEIs is embedded in this interview with White.

Josie in Paradise airs every Sunday night at 9:30 p on AT&T U-Verse from Key West to Boca Raton, and can be seen across the nation through ROKU on the Ohio X5 Channel, and here.

Write a Mystery in a Wrap Anukshah label emits exotic vibe

All pictures by Kim Kidinger

“Such a perfect summer ensemble,” the marketing Director for The Mermaid’s Tale comments via Instagram.

“The look” isn’t orchestrated. The Panama Jack topper is by the Augusta Hat Co. The shades are Vera Wang and flip-flops are from the hard to access St. Hazards Waterfront Resort & Brewery gift shop on Middle Bass Island from the 2016 Hangin’ 10 on Lake Erie promotion.

The bangle charm bracelet a showcases a blue full moon from The Mermaid’s Tale’s Moonglow collection. The jewelry line touts marking momentous life occasions by wearing the moon phase from which they occurred.

In the end, the Indian-inspired resort wear, Anukshah, stole the show during this shoot at Dock’s Beach House Bar & Grille. This outdoor eatery is nestled on the western edge of Ohio’s oh-so-vogue vacationland.


Anukshah is a native of India and is inspired from her travels abroad and her native country. She loves to use colors and beautiful trims. She studied design at Fort Lauderdale Art Institute and interned in New Delhi under Kamaali and Miami’s Rene Ruiz. The latest fashion show hit Nikki Beach (Miami Beach). Her designs are sold exclusively at boutiques and resorts around the globe.Visit Anukshah’s website or follow her on Instagram. This is a for this must-have label for the ladies who love the ocean, lake, sun, sand, and salt.


Manny “The Man” Madruga 1st Annual Manny Madruga Domino Tournament

The moment I first met him was the 2009 graduation night for Leadership Monroe County Class XVII. On the board for LMC, Manny Madruga, Assistant State Attorney. We had all gathered at the Doubletree Grand Tree Resort and were mingling outside when Madruga swept through the doors.

My jaw dropped.

I was awestruck by “The Man.”

He was a dynamic leader among leaders.

As the new Bureau Chief for The Key West Weekly, he took me to a Noon Rotary event and I photographed him at lunch. I emailed the picture to him asking this cosmic Cuban success story in the community to kindly reply and possibly write to tell me who was in the photo with him and did he happen to know their titles.

He picked up the phone and called me.

“I hope you’re not planning on publishing that photo. Josie it’s blurry,” Manny demanded.

I was a former prima donna anchorwoman. My older brother, publisher of The Weekly Newspapers and Tropical Living Magazine was just as displeased with my work. I expressed in defense of myself to these two big wigs that I was used to being on the other side of the camera and was not accustomed to taking pictures of others.

I said this with ego. I said this with pride.

A few weeks later, I was given the Disney World-esque assignment to visit Madruga in his office on Whitehead Street and interview him. I went into the stately building and marched myself up to his quarters in a Banana Republic two-piece navy blue sheath dress and blazer purchased with money from CBS News.

The interview unveiled a wistfulness the climb up the ladder had cost him. I remember him saying something to this nature, This position isn’t easy. Everyone’s out there having fun, hanging out at the sand bar on the weekend and I don’t get to do that. I don’t have the time. This requires commitment.

I gazed around at the awards on the walls and he pointed the most recent one which had been bestowed upon him the 2009 Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association’s Gene Barry Award. He seemed completely unbreakable.

I told him I was there to photograph him. I was flustered, fortunate and a finished pro all at the same time. Here, in my first couple of weeks on a tropical island was an on-camera woman, having the assistant state prosecutor, the attorney I soooo admired, posing for me.

The results were flawless. They are stunning. The pictures capture the essence of a man and professional who was unflappable and a friend to all of us.

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Later, having joined Sunrise Rotary I was slated to give a presentation to our fellow professionals. The topic: How to use the media to drive your professional reputation and build business. I knew I didn’t exactly have all of the dots connected to really deliver a smash-up presentation. I called up Manny and told him what I was doing and that I needed him to please be there because I needed feedback.

And there he was. At 7 am at the top of La Concha. Dressed crisply in his dress slacks with his tie on and shoes shined. He sat at the front table and gave his undivided attention to a lackluster production, and he let me know about this. You need pictures and you need to involve the people in your audience. Then, you’ve got this down. Let me know when you’re doing this again.

There won’t be an again. Manny Madruga, Assistant State Attorney chose to end his life after a heated campaign season.

Unfortunately, at some juncture, we all lose professional positions. Those of us with a giant “X” on our back go down hard. This shouldn’t stop anyone from putting themselves out there. There isn’t any defeat as the so-called polls indicate. There truly aren’t failures. We are not designed as human beings to mingle amidst the same people carrying out the same professional duties for our entire lives. History shows losing, and sometimes even when you lose everything, you are actually being spun in a new direction where you will reap rewards and bear fruit never possible where previously planted. The universe aligns itself up exactly as it should and we are all placed where we should be and with the people we are meant to be with by design.

We all met Manny. We all encountered Manny and experienced the wonder that is Manny “The Man” Madruga. Prayers and peace to Ani, Natalie and the rest of your loved family.

Tomorrow, Saturday February 11, 2017, marks the 1st Annual Manny Madruga Domino Tournament. According to my LMC XIX Classmate Holly Elomina, social entries include dinner and team entries include dinner and four drink coupons. There will be prize packages for the first, second and third place teams. All proceeds benefit local suicide prevention/awareness programs as well as a scholarship in Manny Madruga‘s name for a KWHS senior who is furthering their education in criminal justice or a law-related major. If you want to sponsor a table, register a team or donate a prize, call 305-509-0001.

My Founders Park Palace for Sale for $.5M for sale after renovations

All pictures by Travis Yednak and my personal iPhone

This home is where I first caught on that the universe gives one everything that they need. I left public life in 2012 and at the end of the year rode my bicycle around the island of Islamorada and happened upon this gem. A four-bedroom, four-bathroom home with another living room and kitchen in the downstairs enclosure, plus, a loft office. The house has been renovated since I lived here in 2013 before moving into the luxury City Loft in Cleveland. Here is a slideshow. The furnishings and furniture are atrocious and this is not what the space looked like when I occupied the rooms. But the open-floor concept and location, in a sweet little neighborhood halfway between Miami and Key West, is a seller.

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Don’t you love the aquarium feature in the staircase? This place is where I met the Olympic-medal draped swim coach, Jon Olsen, at Founders Park.

The same park where I revisited my love affair with the tennis courts.

.. and swimming in the open ocean.

Unexpected, lifelong friendships were formed.

and many, many Morada Bay Full Moon parties were attended.

I designed a dress or two…

…and immersed myself into the study of theology and Catholicism.

The master bedroom was actually my yoga and fitness studio where my massage therapist would also set up.

How can you not want to live here? Get yourself a convertible and start Living the Dream! The place is for sale and needs a stylish touch to match the vibe of this posh island paradise.

 Why would I ever leave…? This is also the home where I learned some believe that that its ok for others for to do ok, just not better than them. Success is for everyone. As I’ve just shown you there is an abundance in the universe. Go get some.