Friday, March 15, 2024

Spring flowers, food and Amelia Island Concours

 We've been blessed with some beautiful spring weather lately - clear, bright blue skies and gorgeous sunshine. It's really got the plants, trees and flowers in full pop-out mode. (I feel bad for the people with allergies. 😩) I walked around my neighborhood and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the glory of it and hearing the birds singing, hoping to meet their mates.

Azaleas, camellias and so much more all in bloom.

Plenty of fresh fruit/veg in stock, and even a Poinsettia hanging on.

We decided to take the bull by the horns and have some exterior painting done by a wonderful local painter/handyman. His company, Franklin Paint Company, is family-owned, and Dean himself is a true craftsman. Very precise, thorough and tidy. With multiple colors of paint being called for according to the HOA reg's, he ensured all 3 of ours complied. We are now worry free for many years. Normally, as DIYers, we would have tackled it ourselves as we have done in the past, but time moves on, and after seeing the results, we are sure that Dean did a much better job than we would have.

Dean painted our stucco, garage and service doors and our soffit's/trim.
He even replaced some water-damaged trim around the service door.

A week ago Saturday the Boss decided to head up to Amelia Island for the Concours d'Elegance. He just wanted to walk around the cars on the golf course "infield" as it were. As my feet are never up to big rounds of walking and standing I gave it a pass and wished him well. He had fun - the weather was good, he had a nice drive up the coast, and because he got going early, the crowds were small, which made the walking around enjoyable.

Meanwhile I did my usual chores then relaxed with some puzzling and silk floral fun.

Fresh plant for the courtyard.

Latest puzzle - it's been a tough one.

And for food, mainly reaping the rewards of good meals frozen for a rainy day. Here's a breakfast featuring some of the french fry sausage bake.

That's some homemade tomatillo/cilantro salsa on the side.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you are having yourself some fun these days, take care. 😊

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Marco Island "Vacay" and hit 'n run lunch visit to see my Sister & B-I-L in Sebring

 Come the last part of January people around here, (the Boss), start wanting a change of scenery, warmer temps and bright sunshine. Accordingly, he took the bull by the horns and arranged for a week's stay at a very nice 6th floor condo on Marco Island, which is far down on the west coast of Florida south of Naples, and about a 350 mile drive from home. The unit was exceptionally clean and nicely furnished with all the kitchen pots/pans and sundries you might need. It also featured a double-sized wall type sliding door leading out onto the screened lanai. Here are a few shots from the unit.

Below us a nice pool with 2 hot tubs
plus a large covered gazebo

Ground level view of the docks from the paved walking path.

As is our custom, we brought with us several home-cooked, frozen meals for convenience. This being "the season" it was super busy with most restaurants having a queue in the evenings. We aren't into subjecting ourselves to that kind of torture, and much prefer catching a nice lunch out somewhere. One of those lunches included hooking-up with my cousin Pat and her husband Steve. They live in Naples for most of the year with summers spent visiting family up in Delaware. We made plans to meet up at the Snook Inn on Marco Island. It's a good thing they got there super early (11am) because not long afterwards everyone showed up!! We had a nice waterside table and enjoyed the fresh seafood and a wonderful catch-up. It had been 10 years since our last sit-down, wow!

Pat and Steve up top, Ed and I on the bottom.

Ed loves to walk and fortunately isn't plagued with much in the way of hip, knee or foot pain so he enjoyed some nice long walks, including a walk over to Tigertail Beach on the west side of the island. Here are some shots he took at the beach - look at that white sand.

Tigertail Beach on Marco Island

Nice sense of humor - "Sudocow"

We had a very nice time on Marco Island relaxing somewhere different, and Ed, much like his Mom, is a sun-worshipper of the finest order. He spent some quality time soaking it up down at the pool while enjoying his book. No shortage of vitamin D for him.

In addition, we took in the sights which included heading down towards the Everglades, then having a wonderful lunch at Crabby Lady's in Goodland, FL just south of Marco. I had been wanting some fried shrimp in the worst kind of way and boy, did they deliver!

We ate under the palapa and behind the wind break - it was howling.

Afterwards as we made our way back to the condo, we did some glitz and glitter touring of the fancy side of the island where all the high-end hotels and resort condominiums are located. Of course, the houses lining the streets on the island are nothing to scoff at in their own right. 💰💰Cha-ching!! 💰💰


J.W. Marriott Hotel - check out Google for images 
of their beach side amenities.

Big house, big problem, lol.

All I can say is we are so glad we love our townhouse and do not have "10 foot 'itis" as we used to say while living aboard our 33' sailboat. I can't imagine spending that kind of money, and I certainly wouldn't want to have to take care of a huge house like that.

When the week was done we headed up for a quick lunchtime visit with my sister and her husband in Sebring. We opted for an outdoor lunch at the Veteran's Park on Lake Jackson, where they have picnic pavilions available. Even though it was short, we had a great visit! We didn't get any pictures, too busy catching-up I guess, however I did get a few from the car on our way out of town.

Jacaranda Trees were in bloom

Lake Jackson, Sebring, FL

My kind of lakeside scene, reminiscent of old Florida

It was super nice to get away for a bit, but also nice to get back home. Until next time, take care. 😊

Monday, January 22, 2024

A lot of cooking and not much else

 It's that "cozy" time of year where we're starting to have some serious cold snaps and that means we're hibernating, or let's say nesting.  We are doing stuff around the house, but unless necessary, we're just hanging out and pursuing our own interests.

For me that means cooking and baking, plus organizing and cleaning, studying at the University of YouTube and puzzling. For the Boss that means reading various news and OpEd sources to help suss-out the shape of things to come, plus getting his walks in, watching football and relishing the food around here. He is very good about appreciating my efforts and that civilized behavior keeps smiles on people's faces. That, and his doing the dishes, lol. 😄

More of the gingersnap cookies and then creamy, traditional Chicken Pot Pie. Oh boy and yum.

Gingersnaps with candied ginger and pecans

Moist and flavorful chicken pot pie

On a side note, I discovered a new "baggie" the other day at Walmart - a half-gallon bag. It's nice to have an option that is not so wasteful for when something is too wide for a quart-sized bag but too short for a full gallon-sized bag. Like this half of a papaya. Or a half rack of ribs, you know?

Papaya in a Great Value half-gallon bag

We've had a few really pretty sunrises - lots of pinks during the winter. Unfortunately my phone camera doesn't do it justice, and I have to tweak the saturation in Picasa a bit, but here goes.

Morning sunrise

Another "lazy days" thing I baked was a pan of the breakfast casserole with sausage, peppers & onions, tomatoes and cut up pre-baked french fries. I've been working on perfecting this recipe ever since an Instacart order was misdelivered a couple of months ago. Here's how it went.  

Ed was in the garage with the door open. The driver asked him if he was John, and he said no. She then looked at the house number again and just said "here" and handed him the bags. He didn't know if I had ordered it so he took it and brought it in and set it on the counter. I looked at it and thought WTH!?! The order contained a bunch of frozen stuff; 2 - huge 5# bags of french fries, 2 - family-sized salisbury steak dinners, 2 - family-sized packs of breakfast sausages, a box of hash brown patties and a bunch of other stuff - yipes! After trying to figure out how to rectify the situation (and basically being told "finders keepers, we can't take it back"), I promptly took half of it over to my neighbor. 

What a story - and what a windfall! 😊😊 Now I just say, "Thank you Lord for my blessings" 🙏😇🙏

Anyway, I've been trying to use up the fries, so baking them up nice & crispy, cooling and chopping up into 1" pieces, then combining them with pre-cooked sausage crumbles, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes, then pouring a standard egg mixture over it all and topping with cheese and salsa verde dollops and baking has turned out to be quite good. YAY!

Portioning up french fry breakfast casserole

And we've been enjoying the NFL play-off games, which we record and watch at a more convenient time (and without commercials). The Jags couldn't get out of their own way and therefore didn't make it into the play-offs but there are plenty of good teams and good offense (my favorite) to enjoy watching. We watch them in order, and it's tough to avoid plot-spoilers on the games we haven't watched yet, but we try to be careful with which websites we visit during the interim.  We usually start a game around 6pm to coincide with dinner. Last night we watched the Ravens/Texans game and had meatballs in a broccoli alfredo sauce w/garlic toast and kalamata olives.

Meatballs in Broccoli Alfredo sauce & kalamata's

Well, I'm sorry this post isn't full of travel pics and other excitement, just our (comfortable) lives, for which we are truly grateful.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope your day is bright and happy.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

A quiet Holiday Season

 It's been some pretty low-key Holidays this year, which is pretty much the way we like them. A modest amount of decorating and gift-giving plus some sumptuous meals is the way we roll. Not quite so overwhelming to take down and put away. Of course if we had grandkids or great-grans here in town I'm sure we would elaborate more on the decorations and activities. 

I saw a YT video done by this gentleman who makes metal coat-hanger Christmas trees as a fundraiser for his church. Link is here. I thought they turned out so cute that I decided to make one to go by the fireplace. Here's mine "in situ". I think it turned out pretty! 😌

I used 3 strands of garland braided together and colored lights.

We had a mostly sunny day for our Christmas dinner in the Florida Room. The Boss pours wine for us.

An all-time favorite of the day; turkey, dressing, rice/gravy
plus steamed broccoli, cranberries, olives, and rolls.

Our Christmas table decorations, minimalist to be sure. My 
Mother-in-law used to set a beautiful Holiday table.

I'm enjoying being back into "puzzling" - I find it very relaxing for in-between chore times. The latest one to be finished.

On New Year's Eve our neighborhood had a nice, small fireworks display. Basically one at a time, but since it was held at the far end of the field across from our house it was great! Here's a shot taken by a neighbor who lives on the other side of the lake.

Changing out the table decorations - LOL, cheap thrills.

I swapped out my Christmas table decorations for some more appropriate for New Year's. Now the table looks right. We had the prerequisite 'good luck' New Year's meal of smoked pork chops, blackeyed peas, collards and of course, cornbread. We also had some rice and a fresh tomato salad. YUM!

I did a couple of runs of canning this past week. I wanted to practice cooking dried beans, (I usually use canned), so I decided to fix pinto beans with carrots, onions and ham and can them up for easy meal prep. Served over rice with some garlic toast makes for a tasty meal.

I also had a big bag of yukon gold potatoes, and since we love potato soup and salad for a lighter meal, I thought I'd make up my Italian sausage & potato soup base, (no cream or thickeners when canning), and get that on the shelf too. It just came out of the canner so the jars haven't been washed/labelled yet. When serving, I'll add a cornstarch and cream slurry, plus some shredded sharp cheddar to make it a cream soup.

Last fall when we came back from out west, (mid-afternoon), by the time we got situated it was supper time. Luckily I had some chili on the shelf that I had previously canned ready to heat and eat. So handy.

All that being said, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy & Blessed New Year. Thanks for stopping by.