Saturday, May 15, 2021

Playing with the Ninja Foodi Grill, working on cleaning out the freezer and yard work

Things have been good here, although it is starting to get summertime hot pretty regularly now.  We are planning on heading out west this summer to ditch the heat, and that means plenty of prep's! Various projects, using up the freezer contents, general cleaning & packing, you get the picture - heck, you've probably done it many times too. We've been working on finishing up the dock painting and now, deck, dock, railings and connecting staircase done!

Next up for me is to clean up the front yard for summer.  Back in 2014 I made it my mission to get rid of the white rocks and driveway edging, clear out 1 azalea entirely and trim wa-a-y back the other azalea. Here's a shot of the front when we bought the place.  I had a lot of fun and instant gratification with the upgrade project. Our yard now is a xeriscape with red rocks within a brick paver border with just a few foundation plants. 

This is the yard we "inherited" when we bought in '12;
overgrown azaleas and ugly white rocks.

This picture is  few years old. We lost the sago about 4 years ago,
many neighborhood sagos died that year - not sure why.
We have since put a decorative coating on the sidewalk and driveway.

After a while, leaf litter, palm tree frond strings and just general dirt, dust and pollen clog up the rocks and give weed seeds a happy place to grow. When I converted this yard from white rocks to red rocks (what a job let me tell you!) I put down a double layer of landscape fabric to try to preserve a neat presentation and a tidy edge.  This is still intact and in good shape so my job now is to blow out as much of the leaf litter as I can (and rake/bag it up), and clean out the dirt etc. in amongst the rocks, give them a little rinse and done.  Of course I'm only addressing the edges and only going about 12" into the main body of the yard.

Before any attention, pretty messy!

Much tidier. (Taken from the street,)

Some of my neighbors think I'm crazy but I've been finding it pretty meditative and I get to enjoy the weather!  Trimmed my azalea and camellia wa-a-y back and added a bush daisy to replace a jasmine which was all played out.

The boss wanted to take a Ninja Foodie Grill out west with us to augment our table-top propane grill.  Because we have bears at our 7200' elevation, we have to clean up thoroughly after grilling. The Ninja should make that much easier, plus it should be easy to store in the pass-through storage area on Rocky (our 5th wheel).

I was all for it as it has several cooking functions beyond just grilling and looks like easy clean-up.

So far, I have grilled steaks, chicken drums and baked meatloaf in it! I love it. I haven't used the air crisper, roast or dehydrate yet, but the grill is so easy.

Just the way we like it, 3+ min's per side.

2 meatloaves gives us 2 meals for 2 each - yay.

Around Mother's Day we drove 95 miles up to my Mom's family plot in Georgia to do a neat'n'tidy-up and place a fresh arrangement for each family member. It was a beautiful day, very serene surroundings and all in all a super nice trip.

The Upper Mill Cemetery in Darien, GA.
Large and numerous live oak trees 
with plenty of Spanish moss.

My Mom and my brother, her parents are here too,
along with a few other assorted relatives.

And finally, foodie alert, I must stay on the ball with making sure I always have garlic-herbed compound butter around, it's indispensable!

Minced fresh garlic and dried herbs plus a bit more
salt and pepper make this a great addition to cooked pasta,
sautéed veggies or for making garlic toast or on baked potatoes.

Now, to close this blog entry, let's jump into the way-back machine and check out where we were in May, 2017; the link included takes you to the update page for the entire year and is chronological.

After a big project stay in the Time Out Boatyard
we spent some time just relaxing at anchor in St.Martin.
Here's a link to that time; May, 2017

Thanks for visiting, feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Painting, Strawberries, and lunch with Nancy

 It's been pretty busy around here working on painting, landscape stuff and food management.  The weather has flip-flopped between gorgeous, warm sunny spring days with a nice breeze and cool, dreary, grey days with rain. At least that rain is good for the landscape and water levels in the lakes.

So we all put our "painty-clothes" on and started the deck paint job with me cutting in around all the railing and up next to the house, and the head honcho rolling on the grit-laden Behr Deckover paint, which is a LOT harder to do. Thanks Honey!  It turned out very well and we're happy with it.

From start on the north side to finish on the south side.

Additionally I put a fresh coat of paint on the staircase that runs from the deck down to the dock and we are planning to paint the dock during the next weather window. It's looking good around here!

While painting by the deck railings I spotted a freshwater monster in the lake, a huge grass carp, (I had to ask my neighbors, lol).  A few have been introduced into the lake from time to time to control weeds on the lake bottom.  

These pics aren't that great as I was on the upperdeck and had to zoom in
quite a ways to get the shot but you get the idea.

Apparently they can live fairly long lives and get pretty big.

This time of year is one of my favorite's because it's strawberry season - YAY!  Florida has some large growers just south of our area so we are blessed with fresh, affordable berries for a couple of months.  I usually keep a baggie of them all sliced & diced and ready to top a fruit bowl or some yoghurt.

We have had a few nice sunrises lately. It seems I can rarely get my coffee juggled and get out back before all the beautiful colors are gone, but I try.

Another fun thing I did this week was to go to lunch with my friend Nancy. Again, we brown-bagged it to a riverside park and enjoyed a big gab-fest and the beautiful day and scenery. After lunch while heading back home I got to see a drawbridge opening for a sailboat. Love boats and water so much!

Downtown Jacksonville skyline photo taken from the
neighborhood of Ortega, a lovely, lush, old neighborhood
that's great to ride through. Lots of big oaks, and stately houses.

We're counting down the weeks before heading out west for a few months and that means cleaning out the freezer. We've been working our way through the "easy" stuff, but yesterday I tackled one of the more challenging; a big, ol' turkey thigh. I had moved it into the fridge a couple days before and it was ready to be ground.  

I got out my trusty (and old! I've had it for 40 yrs 😄) Bosch Food Processor. Love the German precision and quality.  Years ago I always made our bread and did tons of other stuff with this Bosch, and it has really held up. The meat grinder attachment was the tool of the day.  In German it's called Fleischwolf, so I always call it that (with my best German accent, haha). With the partially-thawed thigh cut into 1.5" strips I started feeding it in and voila, beautiful ground turkey comes out!

Almost finished with the mound of strips.

Made most of it into tons of meatballs but kept a portion
separate for other purposes.  Meatballs had carrots, celery,
onion, green olives, egg and breadcrumbs along with spices.

Last night's dinner is meatballs simmered in a
cumin/tomato/onion gravy with plenty of onions,
mushrooms and 1 chipotle pepper served over
yellow rice sautéed with onion & corn.
Ed sez YUM!

Well, that about sums it up for the latest around here. Thanks for dropping by and hope you were entertained to some small degree!  😊

Friday, April 2, 2021

Thinking about the way time passes & reminiscing

 Back in December my handy husband and our neighbor re-planked our deck after checking the supporting structures for soundness, and we began the drying out period which would let the pressure-treated wood "air out" and evaporate any excess moisture or chemicals (I'm speculating here) prior to painting. Here's a shot or two.

First half of one side

Deck planking completed

So I was looking back through my annual re-cap posts on the site in an effort to see when last we painted the deck railings.  It turns out it was in 2013, but during the search I became amazed at how busy we were back then, how many friends we'd meet up with and how many places we travelled to. We were younger, obviously, but had tons going on, especially once we were half-timing it between the boat and the house.

In comparison, 2020 and this year (so far) have been so static for us, I'm afraid I've lost a step or two (physically and mentally) and will never be able to regain any "normal" oomph.  Yes, I get that we are getting older but I think I've developed a real LAZY streak.  Anyway, after painting the deck I will have to tackle the railings too.  We used Behr Marque paint and it really holds up, so hopefully we'll get another 8 yrs out of it!

I'll show a pic of my last puzzle, then close with a few flowers around the neighborhood and some pics from back in the days of our Caribbean travels.

Really made my crave some donuts!

Amaryllis in a pot

Bottlebrush really popping out

Not sure what these are but they are in the ground,
Get 1-2' tall and bloom all spring/summer it seems.

A collage of shots from the French island called Marie Galante, sister island to Guadeloupe, both about halfway down the island chain.  We did a distillery tour with our good friends Shawn/Joe on 'Libertas'. This is around the town of Capesterre on the southeast corner of this round little island from 2011.

Capesterre, a really pretty little town, especially
from this shot on the hill looking down and out to sea.

Sugarcane and working windmills for grinding the cane.

Wild to see ox-drawn carts used for sugarcane transport.

Hope you enjoyed the visit, see you next time.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Ten days go by, and with them a few chores, some cooking and some tips & tricks.

So here we are, a little further down the road into spring. As I mentioned in my last post so many things are already in bloom. My neighborhood, when it was developed, was well-planted with azaleas and they are lovely this time of year but my yard is a xeriscape and utilizes red rock as the ground cover. As such, every leaf and fallen bloom makes it look messy and eventually breaks down into dirt which makes it easier for weeds to take hold. Since we are seasonal and not available to tend to it during the summer it can become overgrown and unkempt looking (and our HOA doesn't like that). The gist of this story is that we have 1 small azalea in our yard and simple enjoy everybody else's azaleas. 

They make a lovely scene (not my yard, btw, but a common area).

Common area in between buildings.

We get a fair bit of dew on our lakeside deck surfaces, and that translates to mildew. Part of our spring cleaning is to address any surfaces that got green over the winter, ha ha. It was my job to scrub up stuff deckside to beautify things for sundowners and dinners out back this spring.

Going, going, and gone, easy peasy.

On the cooking front, I made a new batch of cornbread breakfast strata which turned out great and will provide several heat-n-eat breakfasts which is so convenient. Add a bowl of fruit and you're all set.

I generally put sausage, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes,
asparagus pieces and cheese with the cornbread crumbles.
The recipe details are on the food page up at the top of this blog.
You have to scroll down a fair bit to find it..

Also, I thought a shot of my "seasoning" freezer baggies might be useful for y'all to see.

There's tomato paste, hatch chilis, chipotle peppers,
rosso pesto and basil pesto. 

Here's another cool thing I found the other day; snack bags from Walmart that are square and 5"x5". A much more useful shape then Ziploc's snack bag. Don't know how long they'll carry them so I'm going to set a couple of boxes aside just in case.

Pretty nifty size.

I'm sure to some folks (my sister included) all the cooking stuff gets boring but for those who enjoy reading other ppl's culinary exploits, I give you King Ranch Chicken.  I decided to take a stab at making this casserole after watching the Pioneer Woman prepare it. We love Tex/Mex flavors and I'm always looking for things that I can reheat easily. This really fits the bill. It was delicious and I reheated it a week later after being frozen and it was a big success around here. We serve it with tortilla chips for a salty crunch. Not going to elaborate on the recipe since you can get it off the site.

Creamy sauce w/Rotel, torn up corn tortillas

First set of layers built, includes onions, peppers, mushrooms
hatch chilis, cheese and shredded rotisserie chicken. I sautéed
the veggies as opposed to Ree's method of leaving them raw.

Baked up gooey and delicious. Glad I had a pan under it!

Yum, yum, yum.

Here's a shot of my latest puzzle effort.  It was pretty time-consuming as the pieces were all very strange shapes. I hadn't experienced one like that before. Also, since it was a thrift find, there were 5 pieces missing - Wha?! Haha - No big deal, it was still fun.

Wonderful southern breakfast with bacon, grits and eggs.

That's about it for today's effort, hope you enjoyed it and thanks for visiting.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Cool lunch outing with a friend and spring delights

Yesterday I had a fun, productive and busy day on a great weather day.  I had made lunch plans with Nancy, formerly of s/v Silver Seas, to have a picnic lunch in a riverside park.  Nancy is familiar with this part of Jacksonville, an old stately section called Ortega.  Beautiful!  We hit the weather just right and it was very obvious that Spring had sprung! Every azalea, tulip tree, and redbud tree was in bloom and much of the grasses were bright with springtime color.

Before these shots were taken, we had each picked up some fast food and met at a local used book store called Chamblin's Bookmine which has around 23,000 sq ft of retail space. I love this place and have long since completed my personal collections of book series that I read and reread by searching these stacks. They have another huge store in the downtown area of Jacksonville, FL.  Here is a collage of shots from there  plus one more.

Check out the gorgeous pencil drawing, looks like 
a book cover in the making, tons of books to peruse.

This shot is indicative of how slap full of books this place is.

After lunch I had an appointment to get the final fitting of my new orthotics and pick out some new sneakers as well.  I have had plantar fasciitis off and on for many years.  I think it started after going barefoot for so many years aboard our sailboat.  

I need to have a couple of good pairs of athletic shoes for walking and hiking this summer so I bought some Kuru's (thanks Marlene, we'll see how they do) and some New Balance Fresh Foam's to go with the new inserts.

Anyway, while I was waiting I stepped across the street looking for a Bead shop that I had found some interesting beads at in the past. Drat, it wasn't there anymore, but in it's place was a very fun mineral shop cum headshop type place called Midnight Sun. Really fun to have a look-see! (I could have spent hours there, lol). It's a case of "what goes around comes around" - or welcome to the 70's, haha.

Just barely scratches the surface, everything from
tie-dye and batik clothes, incense, jewelry, hand-carved
Balinese wooden wall hangings and mineral stones.
Finally, I took a few shots of local flowering shrubs and all, (sorry about this all you snowbound folks) hope you enjoy them!

One of the many azalea banks within my neighborhood!

Azaleas, unusual in their pale pinkness.

Tulip tree in full bloom in someone's front yard.

Azalea hedge in someone's front yard.

Well, thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoyed.