Friday, May 26, 2023

The wall project, plus routine painting

One of the Boss's spring projects was to beautify our concrete block retainment wall on the dock level. When we first bought our place we pressure-washed the wall and painted it, and that was that. However, years later now, we decided to give it a major face-lift, not for structural reasons but mainly for beautification and ongoing ease of maintenance. 

Pretty ho-hum and needs paint. We can do better!

After some research, (nothing gets done around here without prior research - thank God), the Boss sourced some Tritan BP Faux Stone Panels which nicely mimic a stone faΓ§ade. He performed a serious pressure washing and did some additional surface maintenance to the  concrete blocks, then began measuring and trimming the panels to properly fit the wall. We opted not to cover the top of the wall, too many possibilities for breakage/damage. The panels were installed without issue and the remaining wall surfaces subsequently painted the same color as the dock. We're super pleased with how nicely it came out & hope our neighbors are pleased as well.

Part way through.. He had an engineered system of
weights and heavy "brace" boards to hold the panels
in place while the adhesive set up and dried.

Sweet! Completed and just some general cleanup of the
palm tree beds and a freshen-up of the flower baskets
and it will be a project well wrapped. (So much better! πŸ₯³)

In the ongoing saga of trying to empty the freezers, I thawed-out, dry brined and spatchcocked a Cornish hen. Nestled on top of some fresh broccoli and carrots and surrounded by some tasty dressing, into the oven it went.  It came out great and we had lots of dressing left over, so since I have 2 more hens in the freezer I sense a repeat coming on in our future.

The hen stayed nice and moist, and surprisingly,
the veggies stayed crisp/tender.

Finally, I've begun to get together my trivet supplies and so I laid-out all the stuffed "tubies" to see what I've got - boy, lots of choices. I also have another bag full of unstuffed tubies of different fabrics. Suffice it to say, I shouldn't have any problem finding something to amuse myself with out west.

Thanks for dropping by, hope you're having a great day.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Time's a truckin' along, fun visit with family, canning & fabric fun.

We've been continuing to prep for our trip out west by doing household chores, routine maintenance on the cars, whittling down freezer contents and getting our dental and doctor visits out of the way.

We also got together with my sister and brother-in-law for a wonderful picnic lunch down in Mt. Dora, FL which is about half way in between, a little over 100 miles. It was a beautiful day for a drive and we made things super easy by agreeing to each pick up sub's for lunch rather than doing a potluck affair. Even though we talk all the time, and email back and forth, this is the first time we've actually been together in a few years. BIG HUGS all around!! πŸ’–πŸ₯°

The Elizabeth Evans park was pretty nice, and right by Lake Dora. We were blessed with a shady picnic table and a medium-strong breeze all afternoon which kept temps down and bugs away.

Donna and I each had a goodie bag with several small gifts
for each other to make up for all the missed celebrations. It was also
her Birthday weekend coming up so we didn't want to miss that.

Looking towards the lighthouse, the shoreline is natural with lots of cattails and such.

One of the neat things about the park were all the large trees. There was one cluster that actually had a palm tree growing up out of the middle of it, and you can see how nice and shady it was at our table.

The guys talk car racing and stuff, while Donna digs for
 something in her purse. I'm just being a nuisance taking pics.

Palm tree just growing into the mass.

Lots of hills & small lakes dot the area near Ocala.

The Boss enjoying his new shirt.

In addition to that fantastic visit, I've lately had time to indulge in some canning, some floral work and some sewing fun.

First off, the canning. In the 2 freezers I had a stockpile of ground pork, ground Italian sausage and brats that I decided to can - there was no way to eat it all and it never hurts to have a few things on the pantry shelf.  It requires a hot pack, so browning it first and having some hot beef stock to cover the contents, then pressure canning for 75 minutes.

I've got this huge, deep wok-like pan which is great
for cooking up large quantities. Even so, I worked in batches.

Since meat shrinks when cooked, it ended up only being
enough for 6 pint jars (16oz).  Rainy day goodness.

I was also hit by a need of the Southern cooking variety, which lead to homemade cornbread, black-eyed peas over rice, and fresh spinach (in lieu of collards) to go with our roast pork. Yum, so good!

I fry up some chopped onions & add
minced garlic, then I use an envelope of 
onion soup mix and 1/2C water. 
Let it simmer a while.

More rescued straw baskets with their new and perky flowers. We use these all over, and they're especially nice on the back deck.

A nice pop of color and civility, lol.

Last topic, my purply-squares fabric project turned out to be a bed pillow sham. I liked it so much I made another using pastels and tried utilizing a geometric pattern instead of random like the first one. I like them both, and they didn't take a world of time either - win, win. Which do you like best?

Well, thanks for hanging out with me and catching up on my rather unexciting activities. Hopefully, next month we'll be out west and we should have some new scenery and stuff to talk about. Until then, see you next time.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Driveway/walkway freshen-up, gobble work and crafts

 Back in 2015, a couple of years after we switched to being part-time on the sailboat we had the driveway/walkway's refinished in a decorative concrete finish & sealer and it was quite an improvement. Here's the before/after for that.

A sad sight for sure - I hated those white rocks!

2015 - Quite a spiffy-up, looking good.

After many years that lace-like pattern trapped a ton of dust and dirt which hardened & turned it into a dirty looking mess, not to mention the surface cracks reappearing in the concrete. Going off and leaving it for several months at a time didn't help the situation. 😞 I got kind of fed-up about how bad it looked, so to stop my b*tching and complaining about it we bit the bullet and had a different treatment applied. No more dimples, instead a slate-like, smoother texture for easier maintenance.

Big-time pressure wash finished, and now fixing the cracks.

It took a week, luckily we had great weather, and it came out great! Ryan and his crew did a thoroughly professional job, and made no bones about getting our input all along the way to make sure we were happy. Looks a dream again now! 😍

I think I'm going to get some brick stain to breathe a little
life back into my brick paver edging, it's a little washed-out.

If you click on the picture you can see the grid lines & new texture.
Also, in between the 2 doors is the new-to-me floral arrangement.

On to other things that I've been spending time on. Remember that .49¢ per lb turkey I picked up before Thanksgiving? Well, I had to do something with it that didn't involve eating it - too much other stuff to try to eat up before decommissioning the freezers and heading out west. The solution; thaw it out, cut it up and pressure can it using the raw-pack method!

I have a separate piece of plastic I use over my craft table 
when I doing messy work. No lingering contamination that way.

I got 8 nice pint jars out of it and, as they say in the Islands,
"Dat Finish" - whew, happy to have that done, (it wasn't too bad).

Additional things I've been working on are silk floral arrangements, I'm a victim, really! I see these half-way decent straw basket/greenery projects at the thrift for $2.99 and I can't resist - it's a compulsion. 😁 Anyway, I have to bring them home with me and "fix" them. Here's my latest; unfortunately I didn't take a before pic showing all the bare stalks of  greenery in the pretty good basket. It looks quite nice now, I didn't spend more that a couple more bucks on it (Dollar Tree flowers, lol), and I'm using it in the courtyard.

Nice oblong straw basket, now full and pretty

Still on the puzzling train and enjoying it in between bigger projects. Here's the latest. Bigger than usual at 550 pieces, it took more time but was fun. Patsy ( ) could knock this out in a couple of hours, she's a master puzzler!

In the food arena, we had more beef pot pie, more cookies (pecan & chocolate chip macaroons) and fresh cornbread to go with our baked ham leftovers from the freezer.  I was mentioning to my sister that I may try to source some dry ice and pack an old Omaha Steak cooler with some of our frozen goodies - I still have quite a few steaks and center cut pork chops not to mention roast pork and baked ham. It would make for some easy meals if I could get it out there intact.

Edges got a little dark on me, boo.

A "half recipe" is perfect for us, we usually get at least 3 meals off it.

And finally, building some more fabric squares for some future project.  It's great busy-work and I enjoy it. I'm loving my puff quilt/pillow!

I guess it's going to be purply-blues this go round.

Thanks for the visit, hope to see you again sometime. In the meantime, take care, be safe, count your blessings and have a great day. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Cruising right through April

And the weeks keep rolling on by at a good clip. Soon we'll be to the travelling time of the year, but in the meantime we'll do our chores and otherwise entertain ourselves as per usual. 

I have a favorite thrift store just a mile or so up the road called B.A.S.C.A., whose mission is to provide better living, working, educational, social, and recreational opportunities for adults with special needs. Their store helps support 4 group homes - 2 for women and 2 for men. It's a great store, and gets some wonderful home furnishings, dishware, and artwork donations to resell, and at Christmas they have a beautifully decorated Christmas-themed room with lovely crystal glassware, elegant dishware, and everything needed for entertaining during the season.

Some of the lights are still up. At Christmastime the table in front is
set in high style for 10,  plus a large Christmas tree resides in the corner.

A few more shots of their store to give you an idea of what a fun browse it is. I make it by every week or 10 days. I should really volunteer sometime.

If only I had room!

This small seasonal section is featuring Easter at the moment. 
Lots of nice small housewarming gifts and other doodads.

I finished my lap/nap quilt and am quite pleased for 2 reasons; it's finished, and it came out very nice. I'm happy with it, even if it is a tad small. πŸ˜‰ It was hard for me to judge the size when starting it. Using 4½" squares; 15 squares down by 13 over. Sounds like simple math right? Well, the polyfil puffing shrinks them up, fine, I'm fine with that.

How it looks on a queen-size bed, impossible for 2 people,
but for 1 person @ quiet/nap time it's great, so snuggly. 

With right sides together, I used a whip stitch to attach the fleece
throw to the topper, then turned right sides out and again whip stitched it 
all the way around. Finally I tacked front to back every 4 squares.
The backing is the same royal blue as the bedspread.

The boss had his projects as well, one of them being to add a topcoat to the deck after a good scrubbing. He made it look easy and all I had to do was help move some furniture.

Almost finished! Looks like he's painting himself into a corner
but not so, he'd painted the far half a few days before.
It was pretty dingy but now, clean, nice and fresh.

I stopped by to see my friend Nancy's new place and to have a wonderful shrimp creole lunch with her. We had a great catch-up session and so far, she's loving her new apartment. She is an artist as well as the mother of 4 grown children, so her 2nd bedroom needed to be large enough to hold her studio and to double as a "doable" guest room - score!  To top it off it has a great patio area lakeside with eastern exposure, so it's shady and cool out there during the afternoon/evening hours.

She's pretty happy with it!

I've delved back into the relaxing world of puzzling again. With all the sewing and canning projects I haven't had much time for it. Here's my set-up. I use Dollar Tree flexible cutting mats for extra pieces and work the puzzle on a 22"x28" piece of poster board. That way I can gather up all the cutting mats, place them on top of the puzzle and pick the whole thing up and walk it away, quickly freeing-up my craft table.

My small rolling table (thrift find) holds 2 mats.

We have had some really pretty mornings around here lately although the last few have been rainy and we've got more onshore rain in the offing - a good thing as our lake level is down.

Great morning for a row around!

Well, I guess I'll leave it here for now. Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave a comment, I'd enjoy hearing from you. 😊

Friday, March 17, 2023

Sewing Projects, and more Cooking Exploits

 I've been continuing to work on my various sewing projects and even to invest in some more colorful fabrics for quilts, trivets or whatever else I can dream up. When we head out west I will have a bag full of trivet supplies to take for my amusement. The quilt topper is finished and now I just need to sew on the backing. Being as this is the first quilt I've made, I am finding this last step a bit daunting. I'm using a fleece throw and I'm not sure how easy it will be to work around the edges with. I know, it's 85° out and I need a quilt why? πŸ˜€ It will look pretty on the bed during the day and on the floor at night, lol.

Crazy bright puff quilt topper - tada! Each fabric square represents
material I used to make a trivet with, so I love them all so much.

I had also decided to downsize my cross-body purse to something more dainty. The big one is great for travelling and has, in addition to the essentials, every manner of things in it, like lotion, mints, a nail file, meds, & wet wipes, but around town for errands, too big & unwieldy.

I happened upon some fairly decent looking faux leather fabric at Walmart and figured that would do fine. $5 later, here's what I ended up with, a quick little bag with velcro closure. It'll hold wallet, phone, keys, lipstick, advil and that's about it.

The other night after a big shopping day, (grocery, drugstore, library,, I was pooped so I pulled out of the freezer an old standby - a beef and black bean burrito.  Add the fancy Tex-Mex rice w/onions, corn and cheese & you've got a delicious gem. I use a combination of enchilada sauce & salsa, plus a dollop of the chipotle sauce mixed in as a topper while cooking.

Believe it or not, we get 1 dinner each and 1 breakfast (w/egg)
each and we still feel like we pigged out a bit. So good.

I've been tackling a few pressure canning opportunities as I find meat on sale, (Ms. Frugal here 😊), and this week I found 10# bags of chicken leg quarters on sale for $4.70 a bag! I bought 2. There are about 10 leg quarters per bag, and sure, they have a fair amount of skin/fat on them and may have come from older birds, but they're great in a casserole, a stew, or even pulled off the bone for burritos or chicken salad.  I set some aside raw to grill later, and froze a few too.

I chose quart-sized jars and got 5 quarts.
Each quart held something like 3-4 drums and 2-3 thighs.

I can them using the raw pack method, so after rinsing, I skin them, take off excess fat and cut the drum/thigh apart. Most of them have a small portion of the back attached (with the oyster), so I cut those off too and use them to make broth. Into clean jars, bone and all, with just a skosh of chicken stock and some salt. They cook in their own juices. Great to have a few of these handy for soups or easy meals.

And lastly on the food topics, I was (finally) on the other side of town within easy reach of this fantastic Oriental Market - they are huge and have been at that location for many years. I was on the hunt for dried mushrooms. After trying to source them online, I decided I'd rather pick them out in person, and at a better price.  Eons ago, I took a cooking class with the emphasis on Chinese dishes and enjoyed using Cloud Ear mushrooms. I have wanted to round up another package, so we made a stop. I bought 3 different types to try, as well as some ultra fresh bean sprouts. We'll see how they do.

2 different types of shitake's and one of the cloud ear
 (black fungus is how it's labelled).

The reason we were on the other side of town was to freshen-up the funerary flowers on the family plot. We try to get by a couple of times a year. I can't believe it's been 5 years since Ed's Mom passed, talk about time flying by.. we certainly still miss her!

Finally, from my Irish roots and for my Mom & Sister, both born on this date, I'd like to wish you a 

Well, that's about it for today, thanks for stopping by and check back again soon. Appreciate you taking the time to read it. πŸ’š

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Azaleas, and our Cruiser's Potluck

 Once again it's that time of year for the big azalea bloom-out and boy, did they! The problem was that we had a spell of HOT weather shortly after they bloomed and within 2 weeks (or less) it was over; brown, spent flowers drooping then falling to litter the ground. Sad, so sad. I love seeing the bushes blanketed with the pink's, fushia's, salmon's & white's. Here's one pic of some bushes by the pool that aren't fully out yet but close.

The landscapers stop trimming the azaleas in the fall
to ensure a good bloom, that's why they look leggy.

Here's one right out front in the roadway median. There was a big uproar around here regarding a severe pruning of the common area azalea bushes. They had gotten to be 6' tall and needed to fill-out not get taller. Anyway, a severe "murdering" occurred a couple of years ago and they're looking stunning; short and stout with a ton of blooms! Good job grounds committee.

You can also see the storm security door we recently
installed which allows us to leave the front door open
for nice breezes through the house, and for
when we're sitting in our small courtyard area.

My friend Nancy is in the process of moving to a new apartment complex, so I offered her some moving boxes we had from my M-I-L's house. When she came by, we not only had a great little visit with her but she brought books! Many by my favorite mystery/thriller authors, thanks a bunch Nancy!

I generally don't keep many hardcover books, so I will 
begin whittling the pile down right away. Many are re-reads,
but I don't mind that one bit.

On the cooking front I made another beef pot pie, with Tex-Mex overtones - lots of cumin and cumin seed, california chili powder and some reconstituted dried chili's/garlic paste. So good, a big hit with the boss.

Beef pot pie with flourishes, lol.

I've also been stocking up on silk flowers (on sale) for spring/summer bouquet baskets. Surprisingly Walmart had some really gorgeous flower bunches they were selling for $1, and some full, pretty forsythia picks for $.25, I couldn't pass them up!  When I make up these baskets they go outside where they live until they are completely beat up by the brutal summer sun/heat. I toss them and make new ones using thrift store straw baskets or wreaths and silk flowers. I don't have the skill or patience for live plants anymore.

Really nice little find.

Now for the fun part. We went down to Rodman Dam to meet up with Marlene/Benno of  fame, our long-time cruising friends formerly of m/v 'Diesel Duck' and Allayne/Dennis, our good friends from Venezuelan cruising days and formerly of s/v 'Audrey Paige'. They are from the northland and winter here in FL, visiting family in the area.

From the left clockwise; Dennis, Marlene, Benno,
Allayne, Ed and Harley chilling out nearby.

 The meetup location got mixed-up but we all ended up in a nice picnic pavilion with 2 tables, ideal for a potluck situation. Just by the river there were some folks fishing and tearing it up - catching mainly mullet, which are really good smoked. They were catching them left and right, we were jealous of all the good fishing fun. 

Perfect spot to chill out and fish from.

Just down from the dam the "fishing" birds hang out; cormorants, anhinga's, ducks and whatever.

In addition, there are always a few osprey around too.

After a few hours the heat got a little too brutal
so we hugged all around and went our separate ways.

It was a shame that Nancy couldn't make it but it's on again for next year, God willing (and the creeks don't rise).

Here are a few more shots.

Marlene with her doxies Reggie and Elsa.

Everyone except Allayne who took this great shot.
There's never any lack of conversational gambits with this bunch,
every time we see each other it's like no time has gone by at all.

It was a great day out and about and has been a fun few weeks as well.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit. We love comments should you feel so inclined. πŸ˜„