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.