Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sunrises, our Anniversary, and fun food stuff

 The days roll along and weather teeters between warm & sunny and chilly, damp and breezy, but all in all we'll take it! I still haven't managed to take down our Christmas doodads yet, but so what. It feels too early to put out the spring flower arrangements and door wreaths, so I'll let it ride a bit longer. About a week ago we celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary - whoa! Are we really that old? Oh well, time truly does fly by.  

I received a beautiful flower arrangement and card, and in addition to his card, he also received a wonderful Steak dinner with all the trimmings. We split a huge T-bone and had baked potatoes, sauteed mushrooms & onions and fresh spinach. 

Flowers and cards.

Hastily taken picture before heading to the table
and a bit of a messy plating, whoops.

Several mornings have offered some wonderful sunrises, and we are usually up and out enjoying the spectacle.

Since the first of the year, we have enjoyed a second, very satisfying dinner re-do of the Christmas dinner (turkey, dressing, rice, gravy and roasted veg), and the New Year's Day dinner (ham, black-eyed peas, rice, collards and cornbread), and we are in "hog heaven" over it. Eating well is one of our greatest enjoyments! (look at our waistlines, duh).

I've been indulging my passion for the arts by trying my hand at jewelry making, wire wrapping to be more precise.  Oh, and making "fun" rings too.  As someone said, "I went to the University of Youtube" to learn how to do it, haha. I have several styles to try out: ornate spiral weavings like the one below, or spare, sleek designs. It's fun so far. Purely recreational.

The paperclip and bead bookmarks are fun
to make as well - usually while watching 
auto racing or football.

This morning I tackled making a nice, big batch of sourdough french toast for the freezer. When I want a lazy breakfast, it's scrambled eggs, fruit and french toast. Easy and delicious.

All these go in the freezer, the other 4 pieces
will go on our plates in the morning.

And finally, I just wanted to say how blessed we are to be healthy, happy and well-fed. Thank God the supply chain hasn't gone in the ditch (yet) and we can still have a wonderful selection of fresh fruits and veggies.

I love it when my countertop looks like this!

Thanks for stopping by for a quick peruse at the blog. Enjoy your day!

Friday, January 7, 2022

Things are chugging along and a new toy

 Well here we are well into 2022 and things are just chugging along as per usual - thank goodness. We're all healthy, we've got good food to eat and the weather is just about perfect. So far we haven't done much in the way of dismantling Christmas. We're still enjoying the cheerful twinkle lights of our trees, but yesterday our outside lights came down until next year.

On New Year's Day we had a traditional dinner of baked ham, black-eyed peas, collards, rice and cornbread and boy, was it great. A large meal like this is best served mid-day (2pm-ish) we think and gives us plenty of time to digest while putting away leftovers, cleaning up the kitchen and dishes. I tried to do a bit of decorating to make the table more New Year's and less Christmas. 

New Year's Meal and spruced-up table.

7.5# shank potion ham waiting to be turned into leftovers -YAY.

The ham came out great and it's such a treat to cook one and have several packages of ham in the freezer for good meals in the future.

Ok, what is this new toy you were talking about?  A Colorado brand 9' Pontoon boat for rowing around on our lake. Wow! It went together quite easily and we'll all look forward to getting a little fresh air and exercise on our 9 acre lake. It's amazing how different it looks from water level as opposed to our deck level.

He's trying it out first.
Heading toward the islands at the south end .

At rest at the dock. Should be fun!

Still baking cookies, the lemon/ginger/almond ones were very popular around here, so I made another batch of them. So good with a cup of hot tea after dinner. You use a lemon cake mix as the base and go from there. Tasty to say the least.

It doesn't make a lot, but they did fill up 2 cookie tins. 😁

Another funny thing from my kitchen - I've always loved the longevity of Roma tomatoes, it almost seems like they can hang-out on the counter just pleasantly ripening up, but then you glance at it and see this - LOL!

Yikes! - Alien alert!

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Holiday fun coming and going, plus a great picnic visit with friends.

It's been a wonderful Holiday season thus far this year, we're feeling especially thankful for all our many blessings.  It's been fun doing all the typical holiday chores; the decorating, the baking (fruitcake and a few batches of specialty cookies), plus the making and eating of the Christmas meal.

A couple of photos from that process and the end result. It was dry-brined Instant Pot turkey thighs (on a trivet), cornbread dressing, rice, gravy and veggies for us, accompanied by a lovely bottle of Saraceni Blumond Blue Bubbly we first tried over in Italy and loved.

I can't believe I ate the whole thing was the theme for the day.

Can you tell what we love best?

Whew! All that fun and a food coma too, what a great day.

Next up was a fantastic visit with our friends Marlene & Benno. We've known them for years, hitting it off with them from the get-go in the Bahamas while preparing to head down to the Caribbean in '06. Here's a taste of that adventure: 

We give a shout out on the VHF radio on the offhand chance that our friends Marlene and Benno on Diesel Duck might be near enough to hear us - we heard them on the SSB radio (in the AM) saying they were headed to San Juan.  Sure enough, we made contact and they diverted to Samana, Dominican Rep, where they showed up at the park just in time for sundowners with us.

Another life and time for sure. On Tuesday, we were mulling over the idea of a try-out of Lake Alto Park as a good kayaking spot and picnic area. A phone call later, and a spur of the moment plan was hatched  with Marlene and Benno coming up from Ocala on Wednesday to meet us at the park for a long overdue gabfest and picnic lunch. Benno decided he wanted to bring his bbq grill and Marlene brought these wonderful smoked brisket burgers and all the fixings, while I brought my broccoli slaw/apples/raisin "coleslaw" and chips, plus a few beverages. I've always admired Marlene's ability to organize like a BOSS.

We had a great time talking; just ladies, just gents; all together now swapping tall tales from our cruising days. Lots of laughter and much happiness seeing old friends after 5 years. Thanks for coming up you guys! BTW, their blog is : 

Ed and Marlene having a chat.

Benno gets his grill on while Marlene takes a few photos

Bye guys, until the next time.

We made down to Lake Alto Park about an hour earlier in order for Ed to launch and get some time in on the lake before lunch. Here are a few shots of that activity. It was a gorgeous day, the park, including the boat ramp and picnic area was pristine and we were the only picnic'ers there most of the day.

For y'all's benefit, how he launches single-handedly.
First, grab the pointy end and pull, haha. Luckily, this kayak is pretty robust.

Pretty easy-peasy. (See my shadow up on the dock?)


Hat, water, long sleeves, sun gloves - check, here I go.

Well, that's a wrap. A super day was had by all, great friends, great food, pretty spot and beautiful weather. Thanks for stopping by and checking it out. Happy New Year to one and all! We wish you peace, health and prosperity during 2022.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Crafting fun, & last minute preps, and beginning on my food page upgrade

 It's been a fun but busy week of overdue housework, craft completion,  food shopping and preparation, plus jigsaw puzzling.  Also, I've been working on a re-design of the Food and Recipes page. Instead of just a link over to our old site I've set it up to feature some of my (forgotten) favorite recipes plus tips & tricks in the kitchen. Check it out if you like food-related posts.

OK- now let's do a small show 'n tell on those DIY snowflake hanger ornaments. Last blog I showed how they looked zip-tied and hot glued together. Next I'll show how they look decorated and finally how they look lighted. 

Filled the center with a handmade velvet bow
and snowflake ornament, hot-glued some of 
the sparkly bling on various spots and used wire ties to 
secure the white wire lights around the outer edges.

The cost: 16 identical hangers = $4, 1 pack small snowflake tree ornaments = Dollar store ~10/$1, ribbon for center "bow" = $0 (already had some) and a link to the sparkly rhinestone crystal ribbon  $0 (used $7.50 worth of reward points) = $0, and 2 - 50-light indoor/outdoor lights = $2.40 each, so about $10 for the 2. Not bad for some inexpensive decorating craft fun. I will store these in a closet somewhere for future use.


Shows the effect as dusk approaches.
 A nice pop of lights.

I thought this was funny - something I've never run across before. I was shucking some fresh corn and there was a little ear (with it's own husk) under the husks - Haha, so cute.

Good looking corn for mid-December

More on the cooking front, I made another 9" x 12" of the King Ranch Chicken casserole. It takes a while but is definitely worth the effort.

Bake covered for 45 mins (350°), then uncovered for another 15 mins.

When reheated from frozen, plus some salsa verde and some chips.

My latest jigsaw puzzling effort, a 500-piece Americana type puzzle.

All the presents are wrapped, and the stocking stuffers ready, and after a soaking wet day of rain yesterday the sun is out! Hope you have a great day, and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Christmas cheer, baking and kayaking

 I've been having a blast with the Christmas cheer/chores this year. I guess it just adds a little variety and sparkle to the days.  We don't go hog wild on decorations beyond the tabletop arrangements, 2 trees (small and medium), and lights outside and in the windows.  We're lazy and leave the trees "dressed", except for the topper and icicles, and stashed, covered, in closets upstairs.

Pulsing fiber optic twinkle lights make this little tree my favorite.
It resides in a high-traffic area where it can readily be seen.
(Not a very "atmospheric" shot I'm afraid.)

This year I picked up a small, lighted ceramic church from a local charitable thrift and I just love it.  

Here's mine on a mirrored tabletop.

I will say that one of the bloggers I read (and enjoy very much) has this whole humongous Christmas village complete with a train. She is on a 140-acre hobby farm in central Pennsylvania. She put up a youtube video of their Christmas Village - here's a link for your enjoyment.

A couple of shots taken from across the lake by my neighbor Ralph shows our 5 unit building as the evening descends. Another beautiful winter sunset on display. Thank you Ralph!

I enjoyed another lunch alfresco with my good friend Nancy up in the Ortega area of Jacksonville. Snapped a few shots of the hoity-toity neighborhood nestled against the river. Anybody have an extra few million $$?

Meanwhile, Ed's been getting some kayaking in down on Black Creek.  A few years back our cruising buddies Shawn and Joe gifted us with a kayak they weren't using and we've been putting it to good use ever since. Here's how it works:

If you have read about our 2nd car, a 2008 Ford Taurus X, you'll know we modified the back to facilitate our camping needs. (See the above Tents & SUV's page). This is so perfect for loading/unloading the kayak. Easy-peasy!

I have been having an excellent time with the baking activities so far. Our fruitcake has been mellowing for 3 weeks or so and we had a piece the other evening - it came out just the way we like it; dark, moist, and  fruity with a slight bourbon finish - YUM!  Perfect with a hot tea or toddy.

I made the butterscotch, pecan and coconut cookies a couple of weeks ago as well as some delicious cinnamon-apple bars. But I wanted to made a gluten-free cookie to share, so macaroons it is. Chocolate chip, pecan and coconut. Yum.

Other than that I've been staying busy sending Christmas cards, wrapping up the odd gift or 3, plus, on the crafting front I've been making the popular DIY project 'Plastic Hanger Snowflakes'. Not finished yet, but here's the start. It's fun and I have the perfect spot for them if I can get it in gear and get them finished up. 😊  Stay tuned for the *big* reveal.

Beginning stages, now for bling & lights.

Well, that's all for now. Hope everyone is staying well and smiling.  Thanks for stopping by, and I'd love a comment if you have a minute.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Day-to-Day activities plus a delicious Thanksgiving Dinner

Our days have been rolling along like clockwork. The temp's are drifting lower and we have wonderfully crisp, clean air with blue skies most days. We have had occasion to eat out on the deck - generally it's breakfast, as it's too chilly and dark at dinnertime.

I can tell that that is egg on pizza, a familiar favorite.

But some days it's too chilly in the morning (this AM it was 49°), and we retreat to the Florida Room.

Another favorite, here's a yummy ham, tomatoes, scrambled eggs 
and french toast (a nice finishing treat).
A Florida Room breakfast, the above plates plus a bowl of fresh fruits.

Last year I was able to round up boneless, skinless turkey thighs, (our favorite part of the bird), but this year the grocery stores were complaining that they were only receiving necks and wings from the meat processors, who stated that they have been short staffed due to covid - bummer. 

As a result, I waited until Monday of Thanksgiving week to decide on Plan B. By the time I got to the grocery store all they had left were 18+ lb. frozen turkeys for wa-a-ay more $$'s than I wanted to spend. Besides which, much too big for 2 people! Instead I picked up a pair of Cornish hens and endeavored to do them proud. 

I had never done a "dry brine" before but decided to give it a shot. The day before baking, I washed and patted dry the birds, placed on a small baking sheet, then piled on the brine (including the cavity). The brine was 1/4C each kosher salt and brown sugar, with a heaping tablespoon each black pepper and garlic powder. I then covered the birds with a layer of plastic wrap and refrigerated them overnight. In the morning I rinsed them thoroughly, and again patted dry, then let them rest, covered, in the fridge for about 45 minutes.  I used some of my homemade garlic & herb compound butter under the skin of the breasts and slathered it all over the rest of the birds. Dusted with paprika, salt and pepper and baked @425° for 55 minutes. Oh wow, they really turned out great! The flesh was nicely seasoned and very moist. A definite winner.

We split one bird and paired it with cornbread dressing, rice & gravy and roasted carrots, plus cranberry sauce, the relish plate and a nice Pinot Grigio wine. AAAHH... stuffed and replete for sure.

What are we waiting for, I'm ready to dig in!

To any readers out there that get bored with food-related posts, sorry, but that's the way it goes. We're not travelling right now and not much else is going on, so "foodie-ism" is the way it is.

I caught a modest yet pretty sunrise a day or two later. It hit a cloud layer and fizzled out pretty quickly.

A promising start but it didn't last long.

And lastly, I've been playing around with my dehydrator from many, many years ago. Just checking it out and trying to reduce the carrot load from my vegetable drawer in the fridge. We'll see whether or not it's worth it.

Amazing just how much they shrink when dried!

I thought I'd round things out with a shot from this time in 2012. We had a bigger crowd than now, for sure, and as usual, my wonderful mother-in-law hosted it at her house. We sure miss her!

Thanks for checking in with us, and feel free to leave a comment!