Feb 26: National Tell a Fairy Tale Day pr & pourin' rum

All pics Steven Drescher
Dress, by Daftbird Wild Lily Boutique MM 82 Oceanside Islamorada

I’m not going to get into the details of the face wrinkles I accumulated in my 20s after being handed over a newsroom devoid of a night side reporter, photographer, co-anchor and/or a producer.

I believed, at the time, the bromidic work involved was sui generis to the broadcasting industry. I did not have, or have had any intent to work that hard. Ever. In my life. I thought other “labor” was appropriately appropriate for attorneys, and the blue collar sector that includes: welders, plumbers, pipe fitters and construction workers.

I moved to an island in 2009 because I was ready to cash in on my fairy tale existence.

On the island (of Key West) I had the vision I would sit in an office as mellow as a champagne sunset sail around the island, fly under the radar, cobble together a loose column on occasion (when I felt like doing so)  and that clients, readers and customers would show up voluntarily with their ideas sketched out on what they wanted for marketing and promoting their own business.

I was wrong. In wrong town. On the other side of the planet. There were more tears melded into that entrepreneurial venture that sweat generated from the tropical heat. An aunt supplied me with a card last month which brought laughter and a stream of tears to my eyes:

A Birthday Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a princess who was like a size four or something. She could eat and drink whatever she wanted and always stayed really skinny and had flat, firm abs even though she never went to the gym. Every time she tried on jeans, the very first pair fit perfectly and made her butt look amazing. She lived in a great, big, beautiful castle with her handsome, multimillionaire husband, who was busy all the time buying her giant diamonds, taking her to Hawaii, giving her foot massages, and telling her how beautiful she was. 

My three occasions of early retirement have shown me the Fairy Tale isn’t as fun as connecting the business dots. For summer 2016 I wanted to develop and build business relationships on the Lake Erie Islands. The ferry launch is thirty minutes from one of my hometowns and a childhood home. Business on the beach in my backyard it was and will be for 2017.


I took off approximately two days in August, one in July and a couple here and there in June. When I am the voice of reason, on an island with more bottles of rum than a life jackets there is going to be a haul to write about.

Short of the story is — I worked (some) sixteen and seventeen hour days that dragged on to weeks on end. I had one goal — to develop business relationships with the island business owners. Quitting, calling in, missing the ferry, forgetting to show up and playing hooky across the lake at Put-in-Bay wasn’t an option.

America belongs to the worker, to the visionaries, to the business men and women who don’t take less than one-hundred and ten percent from anyone they interface with. The country is built on sweat. Not the day dreamer or the employee doing as little as possible. Fairy Tales don’t exist, and if they do…as outlined above the ending leaves little legacy.

One day, she was eaten by a dragon, and no one cared.








33030: Hair with a Zip Code of its Own going four-eyed to fight frizz

My hair has its own zip code. Located in the 33030 somewhere in between Key West and Marquesas Keys. Full of body, bounce, curl, texture and unfortunately frizz.



Here’s a look at the untamed tresses in South Florida.

Melissa Blanco, owner of Salon Blanco, or Teresa Nusser, stylist at Country Hair Creations in the Village of Woodville are responsible for smoothing the cuticle. They both use the Brazilian Blowout. A polymer system is placed around every hair strand to keep the curl and lose the frizz. My hair is stripped, the coating applied, hair dried and straightened, then washed and dried again. The process takes roughly two hours. To get the glam we both go geek in glasses.

Right now Country Hair Creations in the Village of Woodville has the lowest Brazilian Blowout cost of any community in Ohio or Florida. $175 and this includes full-size bottles of Acai Anti-Frizz Shampoo and Conditioner that cost an additional $36 per bottle. That leaves enough money to check a suitcase when flying south for spring break to someplace sunny and surrounded by water.

Soaking in this Import Spa Line Champneys Distant Shores

There’s a standout line in the spa products I’m using this season. My aunt gave me Champneys Spa Indulgence Distant Shores Bubble Heaven and Body Butter. Heaven is precisely the correct word used to describe these products. I’m also crushing on the packaging. Bottled up in a cushy fuchsia rimmed with gold, the bottles set the tone for luscious smells of passion fruit, mango extracts and citrus oils. Use has me swooning for a loooooong romance season where everything and anything flushed in tones of rose scores. Made in Thailand this bubble bath and body butter both contain grapefruit and lemon peel oil, plus fruit extract and bark oil. The scent and luxe of ingredients equals love I can give to myself all year around.


10 Reasons why MBI is the Great Lakes most Quixotic Spot island romance offline and off the grid

Pictures by Steven Drescher and Ed Gudenas

Accessible via ferry, plane, or helicopter Middle Bass Island is the ultimate destination in the Great Lakes Region for a romantic get-away. This eight-hundred acre island delivers just the correct dosage of intrigue to make an intimate adventure memorable. Once travelers and tourists reach the ferry launch on Catawba Island, or one of the runways, all of the amenities of the mainland disappear, opening the door for flirtation on an island. Here are the Top Ten reasons why MBI is the hottest of the string of islands nestled inbetween Ohio to Canada.

10. Remote hiking trails allow time to explore off the beaten path. Wildlife encounters are a definite possibility.

9. The entire island is pet friendly. So, even if Fido is your only friend the two of you are bound to have a ball exploring, dining and swimming in the freshwater.

8. The cozy Camping Cabins at St. Hazards all have private fire pits. Grab a locally made bottle of wine and bag of marshmallows from The MBI General Store and show your flame they set you on fire.

7. Enjoy the private beach adjacent to the MBI Yacht Club Condos at St. Hazards Resort. This condominium has the perfect boutique unit number 106 to suit the needs of a private party of two.

6. All of the luxury condo units at St. Hazards Resort have private balconies overlooking the lake.

5. This island boasts of a resort that stocks over one dozen rums. Travelers can enjoy everything from Mojitos made with organic mint grown on property to Ti Punch made with the superior aged Rhum Clement distilled in the French Caribbean. This drink consists of a muddled lime wedge, shot of homemade simple syrup and Rhum Clement. An order of this cocktail infused with exotic spices, coconut, banana and fruit, is elegant and impressive.

4. Home to the historic Lonz Winery, visitors can day trip and pack a picnic lunch to eat overlooking the lake. The MBI General Store sells bottles of wine with labels from Pelee Island, the Lonz Winery and 19 Crimes. Stuff a picnic basket, grab a bottle and open with a Swiss Army Pocket Knife to keep this getaway real. Explore the old Prohibition era wine runs, caves and wine barrels where the wine has been fermented.


3. An old-fashioned water taxi leaves every hour to take guests island hopping from the MBI ferry docks to the famed and most popular boardwalk of the Great Lakes Region known as Put-in-Bay located ten minutes across Lake Erie on South Bass Island. Head over on the idyllic Sonny S ferry for an enchanting day or evening out. The last ferry leaves SBI at 12:30 am every Friday and Saturday during the height of season.

2. Middle Bass Island is home to an airport, plane and helicopter service. Book a tour through Griffing Flying or Paratus Air (914) FLY-HELI for an enchanting and exciting afternoon seeing the island action and Perry’s Victory Monument from above. This  is the perfect place and opportunity to propose.

  1. The number one reason why Middle Bass Island is the hottest and romantic island the Great Lakes has for everyone to experience (besides, we can’t help but note, the pool and hot tub at St. Hazards Resort NEVER CLOSES) is … internet is spotty at best. Here one is off the grid and unreachable. Giving travelers, lovers, and sweethearts the opportunity to make unpostable memories.

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.

Captivating Cocktail Garnish don't mess with the ocean life

I’m guilty of the crime. In 2004, on vacation at the time in Key Colony Beach, I found a Portugese man o’ war siphonophore (this isn’t a jellyfish) washed up on the beach. I tossed the ocean wonder into a styrofoam cup and posed for this photo op on the private beach at Glunz Ocean Beach Hotel & Resort. The tourists mingling at the bar at what is now Havana Jack’s Oceanside wanted to know what kind of drink garnish I had.

The tentacles contain stinging nematocysts, microscopic capsules loaded with coiled, barbed tubes that deliver venom capable of paralyzing and killing small fish and crustaceans. While the man o’ war’s sting is rarely deadly to people, it packs a painful punch and causes welts on exposed skin, NOAA

I just returned from another South Florida vacation and a group sitting next to us on the beach had a bucket with one of these ocean beauties and its long strands of tentacles floating atop the saltwater. They told me they didn’t want the children to get stung, and they are correct. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration beachcombers need to beware: a man o’ war can still sting for weeks after being washed ashore. For those of you planning a beach vacation remember the life and wonder that surrounds you is best viewed in the water with a mask and snorkel. If you’re fascinated consider a snorkel trip or SCUBA certification to view the marvels at the reefs.