Tuesday, April 11, 2017




Today is brought to you by the letter I.
Which, I have, of course, not written yet but discovered that last year's post was also about 
Click here to return to 
Tales of the Caribbean!

Coast of Illinois's SECRETS to a Landlocked Beach Life***
I - Ingenious, find a solution...
G and H - Life Happens...and keeps on happening...
F- F-Flip Flops. Love them, wear them, don't call them Thongs. 
E - Extravagance, everyday should be so
D - Drinks, may all your responsibly enjoyed drinks be boat/beach drinks*

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Click on the link, page down to the comments and check out some of the other posts from participants!  (So, I was a little late this time, Friday became my day off, rather than this coming Sunday. It took awhile to dig the Flip flops out of the closet...)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Good Grief! Life Happens!

Well. My experiment with writing daily hit a bit of a skid this weekend. Sure, I have been brain writing most of the time. Problem is, my brain just refuses to auto-download to the page.

Consequently, the letter G and the letter H are being forced to co-habitate.
And get slightly gypped.
The plan had been for G to be 'glasses – as in sun' and possibly 'grouper'. The photo would have been priceless....
H was a little tricky. I was planning on investigating the word 'helio', which I have been told refers to the sun.

But instead G and H are getting this: Good Grief! Life Happens!

And as it turns out, as I was contemplating this post in the shower this morning, Good Grief! Life Happens! Is actually one of the fundamental secrets to a landlocked beach life.

I work in healthcare and frequently get the luxury of a three day weekend. This weekend, however, was a one and three quarter day weekend, once again, because I work in healthcare. Translate that into a half day meeting on Saturday.
The rest of the weekend was spent catching up in prep for this work week.
The bi-annual closet switch out from winter to summer; laundry; Target run; dinner plans; cooking prep for Sunday; gardening; laundry...
You get the idea.
Most of you live the idea.

Many of the things I wanted to do: have coffee with my folks, coffee with my friends, write, read a portion of the magazine stack threatening to become a room divider; none of these happened.
Sure, I know the saying, you make time for the things you really want to do.
I hate that saying.
All it does is fertilizer my ever productive guilt.

I managed to talk with my mom on speaker phone while I cleaned out my closet. Which was a great distraction for a painfully awful chore. My friends are just as mired down in life and we all know it will happen eventually.
Those magazines will look great in the grade school recycle bin...

The take-away?
Stuff will always get in the way.
Sometimes you can prevent it. Other times you can work around it.
But there are times when the number of hours needed just don't compare with the hours available.
And its okay.

Good Grief! Life Happens.
Don't be so hard on yourself.
One of my favorite beach shots - a impromptu peace sign in Destin, Florida.
Coast of Illinois's SECRETS to a Landlocked Beach Life***
F- F-Flip Flops. Love them, wear them, don't call them Thongs.
E - Extravagance, everyday should be so
D - Drinks, may all your responsibly enjoyed drinks be boat/beach drinks*

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Click on the link, page down to the comments and check out some of the other posts from participants!  (So, I was a little late this time, Friday became my day off, rather than this coming Sunday. It took awhile to dig the Flip flops out of the closet...)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Flip FLop

Ah, the Flip Flop.
A fun sound to make. 
A fun name to say.
A successful home show on HGTV.
And once, a sort of insulting political campaign...
The Flip Flop.
The quintessential summer shoe.
A little research revealed a history dating back to ancient Egypt. The current incarnation dates from the 50's, post WWII when service men discovered the convenience and comfort of a similar sandal worn by the Japanese.

I think I got my first pair of Flip Flops when I was around 8 or 9. There was concern over my inability to walk in a full coverage shoe, let alone one that only covered the bottom of my feet. As I recall, there were weeks of blisters from the tab between my Big Toe and the little piggy which always stayed home. And just about the time the blisters were healed and I could walk without tripping, the plug, which held the tab in place would flip out of the rubber sole. It was replaceable, to a point, at which the entire rubber sole would rip in two.
Wasn't there a Beatles song called Rubber Sole?
It is beginning to make sense.....

Those first Flip Flops cost about a buck.

Fast forward about 50 years.

There are the old school Flip Flips.
You know, for public showers...
not my original pair, but very very close
There are Flip Flops which promise to firm your thighs and butt.
I can't really testify to this, but I will say these were a life saver when the dreaded plantar fasciitis hit.
These had the potential to be the most expensive pair of flip flops I have ever seen. I purchased them on sale with a coupon and a rewards card.
And the Fancy Flip Flop.
Real gemstones? Only my bank account knows for sure. 
This is just a small cross-section of what's available. No matter what the style, a good pair of Flip Flops can get you just about anywhere.
Just don't call them 'Thongs'.
Especially in front of your children, or hipsters, or men...

Coast of Illinois's SECRETS to a Landlocked Beach Life***
F- Flip Flops. Love them, wear them, don't call them Thongs.
E - Extravagance, everyday should be so
D - Drinks, may all your responsibly enjoyed drinks be boat/beach drinks*

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Click on the link, page down to the comments and check out some of the other posts from participants!  (So, I was a little late this time, Friday became my day off, rather than this coming Sunday. It took awhile to dig the Flip flops out of the closet...)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Extravagance Everyday

Coast Of Illinos's
Secrets to a LandLocked Beach Life

Please not the name change! Rules are just so sever sounding. Secrets are much more intriguing if you ask me.

I wanted to call this post Exclusively Extravagant, but 'exclusive' can have a somewhat negative connotation. Beach life is never about negativity.
Or exclusion.
Beach life is about fantastically wonderful living.

But not ridiculously expensive living.

I know what you're saying right about now.
'How can I possibly live extravagantly without raiding my secret sock drawer stash of cash?'

Well, I am here to tell you how.
First off – put your money in a bank. No one likes sock money. Besides,that's where the HoHo-s go.
Then – think about those times when you felt pampered; when you felt extra special; when you felt fancy.

Now take those times and boil them down to the barest elements.
The defining moment when you felt extravagant.

Here on the Coast of Illinois, everyday extravagance begins with beverages.
I am a coffee drinker. Consequently, I have about one hundred coffee mugs – each with its own special moment.
Currently I am using my Miami mug. It reminds me of the two layovers I had in Miami, the fantastic lunch on the bay, the beautiful, historic hotel we stayed in. I alternate mugs for the seasons and my feelings. But I always fill them with good coffee.
A slightly pricey bag of coffee is a small way to elevate an otherwise regular work day.Especially if you bought it on sale with a Cartwheel coupon from Target...

Coffee is not my only everyday extravagance.
I am a big water drinker. While I generally drink cold tap water, when I need a moment of escape I turn to Perrier.
It takes me back to a girls trip to Mexico, beautiful guest house surroundings, artist communities, lunch at the Hotel California, that odd Canadian guy whom I met on the plane and later semi-tried to pick me up at a beach restaurant...

Beverages aren't the only way to exercise extravagance.

I found that White Citrus body lotion from Bath and Body Works smells exactly like a fancy hotel I once...twice...stayed in for anniversaries.
$10 for a big bottle of lotion (or buy 3 get one free...) vs $300 a night...
I hate math but this is an easy one.
When I feel stressed I break out the lotion, apply liberally and inhale deeply. I am instantly transported to that elegant marble bath with the television that appears from nowhere in the mirror...
And funny thing, so is everyone else around me. Every single day I use this lotion at work and every single day I have at least one person comment on how wonderful the scent makes them feel.
(Okay, maybe they aren't all transported to the marble bath. That would be weird...)

Another everyday extravagance, for me, is fancy magazines.
Did you know that you don't have to stay at a Four Seasons to get their magazine? (I highly recommend doing so at least once, but that's a different post...)
My kids subscribed me to the Four Seasons publication for a birthday. The glossy, mostly high end item advertisement filled, four times a year editions transported me away from many a landlocked weekend. Dreams of trips to Marakeesh, shopping at boutique jewelry stores, wearing dresses which cost more than my car...
And at the end of my free time - even if it were only a couple of minutes spent flipping through the pages without even reading - I felt refreshed and ready to fold that weeks worth of clean underwear...

I imagine by now you are sensing a theme here...
Beach Life is happy based.
Find the little things which make you happy - whether its a magazine, a special coffee mug, an item of clothing - it doesn't have to be expensive. It doesn't even have to come from the beach.
The only requirement is to feel calm, content, extravagant...

And what could possibly be more extravagant than CAKE, served on real china, poolside....
yes, cake. at the beach. even before that song...
Coast of Illinois's SECRETS to a Landlocked Beach Life***
E - Extravagance, everyday should be so
D - D - Drinks, may all your responsibly enjoyed drinks be boat/beach drinks*
This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Click on the link, page down to the comments and check out some of the other posts from participants! 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Drinks, Boat. See also Beach and Rum

As we continue on our journey to the ultimate beach life, I feel now is a good time to impart some actual, test kitchen tested, wisdom.


Here it is:

Nothing tastes better, as you happily sit reading your funny, brightly covered beach read after dousing yourself in Coppertone while humming My Love, than a nice frosty beverage.

Earth shattering?


But, hear me out.

Beach drinks are just as important to the overall attitude as the right book and the appropriate amount of sunscreen.

Clearly no one wants a frosty glass of milk while sitting on a sandy beach in 90 degree weather.

Nor should one jug an energy drink. Come on. The whole point of beach life is to SLOW DOWN. Not speed up on concentrated sugar and caffeine.

An nice soft drink, appropriately chilled can be delightful, especially if you squeeze a little lemon or lime in. And if you can find it in an actual glass bottle all the better.

Water is always welcome, still or fizzy. And if you're feeling fancy, mineral and fizzy mineral. Again, with a squeeze of lime.

Certain people will swear by a cold beer, can-bottle-glass.

Others prefer tequila based drinks.

But as the self proclaimed, premier, Landlocked Beach Life influencer, I am here to tell you that a great RUM drink can not be beat.

Sure, sure, you say rum and blenders automatically jump to the frozen daiquiri. Delicious and not without health benefits. You know, from the strawberries. 
12 oz bag frozen strawberries
6 oz light rum
4 oz lime juice
5Tbs sugar

Certain firemen I know will reggae round to the Dirty Banana. Frosty, creamy, hints of chocolate. One million calories.
 1 1/4 oz light rum
1/4 oz creme de banana
1oz rum cream
1 oz Kahlua
1 oz coconut cream
1/2 fresh banana
add ice and blend

Purists will insist on a real Hemingway daiquiri, my personal rum drink favorite. Romantic, literary. Clean, sweet with a hint of tart. No wonder Ernie said write drunk...
2 oz light rum
1 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
add ice and shake until chilled
strain and serve in a chilled cocktail glass 
(argument has is that this drink also has a splash of maraschino liquor and a splash of grapefruit juice. I like them both ways but prefer the simpler version. The liquor and grapefruit are hard to balance.

These things being said, I have to say that the absolute best beach life drink, hands down on my deck, is the Caipirinha.

While those other rum drinks are made from white rum from the Caribbean, the Caprianha is made of Cachaca – a Brazilian rum distilled not from molasses but from the actual sugar cane. I first had one of these delightful, fragrant drinks at Yemanja, a local Brazilian restaurant.

I immediately went out, purchased a $20 bottle of Cachaca from our local creepy alcohol store and promptly wasted half the bottle trying to master the delicate balance of powdered sugar to lime to rum.

While I will never live down those first 1/2 cup powdered sugar paste drinks, I have finally mastered the proportions and now, I am imparting that wisdom on you, my budding Beach Babies.

The Caipirinha
2 oz cachaca
1 lime - 1/2 cut in quarters, the other half juiced
3-4 healthy teaspoons powdered sugar
Be sure to remove the sticker off the limes. The stone heads in the background are singing Boat Drinks.*
Muddle the powdered sugar with the lime quarters and remaining lime juice if you find your lime quarters are not super juicy. This will make a super sticky paste.
Add the rum and fill the shaker with good ice.
This is NOT good ice. This is ice cube tray ice from the freezer. GOOD ICE is that amazing tiny cubed stuff from the gas station which I always forget to buy and always ask my friends to pick up when they are coming over for cocktails.
Now shake that shaker until it is so cold your hands stick to it.
Pour into a brightly colored glass, to match your brightly colored book cover and 
I give you the Caipirinha. Best served with a side of beach music. More on that later...

As always - Drink Responsibly, preferably in your own backyard or within walking distance of your hotel room, unless you have super understanding friends or a revolving account with Uber.

Coast of Illinois's SECRETS to a Landlocked Beach Life***
D - Drinks, may all your responsibly enjoyed drinks be boat/beach drinks*
This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Click on the link, page down to the comments and check out some of the other posts from participants! 

*Boat Drinks, for those who don't know, is a wonderful song by Jimmy Buffett
***Please not the name change! Rules are just so sever sounding. Secrets are much more intriguing if you ask me.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Coppertone Books

Well, it's April 4.
I am already behind by one letter. Looks like my write on the fly is more like writing on the crawl...

Consequently, this post will be a combo of yesterday's letter – B - and today's – C.
Hence the title: Coppertone Books.
Wouldn't that make an awesome name for a book store on the beach?
I believe I have found my new retirement job...


It started about a month ago. The first plea for reading material while at the beach came tripping through my Facebook feed. It was followed by numerous comments suggesting a wide range of books.
All of them WRONG.

Beach reads have several requirements.
The books must not be sad or cause crying. No self reflection. No introspective review of a life led poorly. No deep biographies. Good lord, NO WORK RELATED MATERIAL.

A Good Beach Read is light, funny and has a brightly colored cover. Action adventure, romance, horror and SciFy are all fine as long as the location is somewhere exotic and you don't need to do simple math or have a passing knowledge of physics to understand what is going on,

Literary classics are a tough call. I admit to spending numerous summers re-reading The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway. In one respect it has adventure, romance and is set in an exotic locale. In my teenage brain I only saw those aspects. I didn't really comprehend the undercurrents of poor personal relationships, alcoholism and the fact that a 16 year old reading a deep book doesn't really scream "WoW! I bet this chick would be tons of fun!" But more on this in letter 'L'.

Beach Reads must be paperbacks. Not hardbacks – too clunky. And absolutely NO e-readers.
With a paperback, you can crease the spine – making it appear as though you have read this book numerous times. You can dog ear the pages to mark you page. You can throw a paperback down to save your beach chair and with that brightly colored cover, passersby can't help but notice your literary choice, strike up a conversation and ask you to dinner...
Try doing that with a kindle.

I know, you are going to object to these requirements. But think about it.
Why do we go to the beach? (See 'A')
I love reading a good tearjerker – but those deep, emotional books are best read while curled up under a big fuzzy blanket in front of a fire while a raging snowstorm or rainstorm blusters outside. A good beach read needs to transport you away from the crazy and leave you smiling. It should be an easy enough read to hold your attention but allow for gaps in reading to accommodate your husband who insists on signing you up for pool scuba lessons, catamaran sailing and yoga.
Trust me.

And yes, I know, e-readers are so convenient. Paperbacks are a pain to pack. They add extra weight to checked baggage requiring repacking at the Miami airport check-in resulting in an overloaded backpack that your wife somehow always has to carry...
There is an easy solution.
Who among us hasn't wander through Hudson News while waiting for a flight because your wife accidentally booked a SIX hour layover and yearned to pick up that book you keep hearing about but still isn't available for check out on the library e-reader list. I say stop in, grab that paperback, and a bag of M&M's and maybe some smoked almonds, trot on over the the Starbucks for a latte and dig in.
So what if you finish the book while still on vacation.
Hated it? Leave it behind for the next vacationer.
Loved it? Bring it home.
Because here is the other great thing about an actual book.
Chances are you won't finish it in one sitting so something will become the bookmark. How fun is it to pull out an old book to find the receipt from that fish stand where you had that incredible sandwich? Or the hotel postcard? And take a deep breath – just a hint of sunscreen...

Which leads me to Coppertone.
The perfect summer scent.
Slightly spicy with overtones of adolescent angst and undertones of lake dance romance and Paul McCartney's song My Love.

And suddenly I feel that this post is becoming a little too personal...
Can't get to the beach this year? No worries. Get a nice cool beverage, a recommended beach read and a comfy chair out back. Because, ultimately, it's an attitude, not just a location.
I suppose I should give some examples of Coast of Illinois Beach Reads: 
I highly recommend anything by Carl Hiaasen -especially Bad Monkey and Tourist Season -  hilarious books based in South Florida. Anything by Stephen King, especially Duma Key - as who doesn't want to read a terrifying story set at a beach while on a beach. And if you must read a biography, I recommend Lauren Bacall's autobiography By Myself and Then Some - romance, old Hollywood and a little beach.

Coast of Illinois's Rules to a Landlocked Beach Life

C- Coppertone, or any sort of sunscreen. Use it!
B- Books. Read them.

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Click on the link, page down to the comments and check out some of the other posts from participants! 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Altitudinal Attitude

Seriously, how can you have an attitude when you see this....
Have you ever noticed how, the minute you step out of the car or the plane and that warm salt ocean breeze gusts a welcome hug, all the worry in your brain just melts away?

Or is that just me?

Of course, the ocean tends to give me more of a slap, but still...

There's a lot to be said for the for that beach attitude: chilled out, relaxed, no worries, mon.

Naturally, I have a theory.

I live 760 miles from the nearest ocean access and about 464 miles above sea level.

283 miles to Memphis – no longer care that the train commute to work makes me nauseated.

418 miles to Huntsville – the kids are fine.

702 miles to Floribama – wonder if Rob could grow a mullet for that contest they have.

760 miles to Destin – 401-Schmore-o-one, I could get by just fine being a diner waitress.
2072 miles to Tortola - I have children? A job? That's just crazy talk...

Take me further from home, out into the open sea and I forget there is a whole world out there acting like a big overgrown baby.

Its not just the latitude, as that one guy likes to sing about, its the attitude.

Chicken and egg?

Potato, po-tah-to?

I guess it has to do with the curve of the earth or the down slope of the Mississippi River Valley...whatever...

For every mile down hilll I travel, I lose a daily stress.

This phenomenon is not related only to sea level.

When we travel to the mountains – 9052 miles above sea level- the same thing happens.

But, where sea level is a bare foot, dread lock my hair, I'll catch a fish for dinner feel; the mountains are more of a calico skirt, change my name to Trellis, let me weave you a pair of pants while that loaf of bread bakes in the wood fire stove.

Which, using scientific deduction (don't try this at home) can only mean one thing.

Stress is found at exactly or midway between ocean and sky.

Looks like its time to call the movers.

Coast of Illinois A-Z Rules of Beach Life

A: Attitude is everything. Find that place which clears away all the bad stuff, puts a smile on your face, makes you the person you want to be and grab hold of the feeling. Don't hoard it deep within yourself but let it permeate through out your very being. Create a tidal wave, a tsunami, of happy around you and let it wash over everyone you meet.

So, this was A of the April A to Z challenge.

Come back on Monday for the letter B...

(We get Sundays off. heehee)