Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Holiday Q &A




I've decorated, sent my Christmas cards, pretty much finished my shopping and have been listening to Michael Buble Christmas songs on repeat, yet I'm finding it hard to get in the Christmas spirit here in Florida. It's early yet, right? Maybe this Holiday Q &A ( from The Queen In Between ) will help :-)

{1} We traveled at Christmas for many years and just got in the habit of artificial trees. This year we got a smaller, pre lit artificial tree and it went up pretty fast. I used all my old favorite ornaments and it's pretty, but still needs a little Florida pizzazz. I have an idea I will share when I figure it out.



{2} Definitely the Ginger Cut Out Cookies my girls and I baked together for many years. I got the recipe at a preschool nativity event and the spicy flavor, with just a hint of orange is so delicious. This will be the first year, in a very long time, I won't be baking, so that's a little sad.

{3} Again, we traveled back to Michigan for many years, but once we moved there, when Megan was 4 and Melissa was 1, we were always home on Christmas morning. I just love a relaxed Christmas morning with a special breakfast, stockings and Christmas movies.

{4} I have always loved clear lights, but I think colored lights are growing on me again.

{5} I mailed my cards today. This is early for me, but I combined them with a change of address, so I thought the earlier the better.

{6} A specific present doesn't come to mind, but I collect snow globes and my husband gets me one every year. Some were weeded out when we downsized, but I was really happy that my favorites all survived the move without any breakage.

{7} A good Christmas present memory is the double picture frame we wrapped up (with one side blank) to announce baby number two. There is nothing like a grand baby surprise announcement.

{8} We still do stockings both for kids and adults and always will. I love buying stocking stuffers.



{9} I still buy my girls matching Christmas pj's. Those pictures are some of my favorites.

{10} Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant. I love when it is sung at midnight mass on Christmas Eve too.

{11} Christmas Eve mass with just my daughters and husband, then returning home to open our family presents with hot chocolate (festive martini for me) and cookies. It's a nice quiet time for us, in the midst of family gatherings.

{12} Early! By that I mean starting on Black Friday, but I love on line shopping and rarely go to the mall any more - especially close to Christmas.

{13} White Christmas - it's one I watch every year without fail.



{14} Candy Cane Martini - yummy and festive!

{15} Always and including a carrot for the reindeer. We also made reindeer food (oatmeal and glitter) to sprinkle outside on the snow.

Happy Wednesday!


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thanksgiving Week In Photos {Florida Edition}
















What a great week we had! We had such fun doing all the tropical things, with a little Thanksgiving thrown in for good measure. We went to several different beaches; some for the day and some for just a bit of magical sunsets. We shopped at St. Armands Circle and in Venice, saw palm tress with Christmas lights for the first time and took a lot of group selfies. We bar hopped to all the waterfront places and as my daughter likes to say; did a pina colada tour.

It was so great to be together for the holiday and really just be together in general. In the last six months since we moved, the girls were here in July, I have been to Michigan twice and once to Pittsburgh, so while I'm happy with the amount of visiting, being together for the holiday made it all seem normal again. And, having Megan's fiance with us made it even more special.

Uprooting your life has an effect, no matter that you love your new surroundings now more than you ever thought possible. It was hard for us all to know how the holidays would be in this new normal and this was an important piece of the puzzle. Now, on to making new traditions at Christmas.

Happy Thursday!


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette {Pinterest Success 46}




No Thanksgiving week post yet, because we are still drinking pina coladas here, but Melissa left Monday and Megan and her fiancé leave tonight, so it will be back to normal soon. We have had so much fun and it will be hard to go back to quiet days, but Christmas is soon, including a trip to Michigan to celebrate, so it's not so painful saying goodbye.

I wanted to post a Pinterest recipe success for this Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad we made for Thanksgiving. It was in a word - delicious. The flavors were lovely and fresh and the perfect crunch to accompany the traditional Thanksgiving dishes on my menu. Besides the bacon (lol), it was a healthy addition too. I would make it again for Thanksgiving, or really for any dinner you need a special salad.

Happy Tuesday!


{ Linking with these friends}

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

Have a Daily Cup

Between Naps on the Porch

21 Rosemary Lane


Rattlebridge Farm

Monday, November 20, 2017

My Thanksgiving Menu - Florida Style




This will be quite a different Thanksgiving this year. I usually am preparing for a big crowd of extended family with my table already set at this point, and preparations well underway. We will be celebrating our very first holiday at our new home in Florida and as I write this, one daughter is asleep in the guest room and another daughter and her fiancé will arrive tomorrow morning. It's really all I need to make it a wonderful day.

My menu will include all the traditional favorites and my daughters were very clear on keeping the menu that way. The amounts cooked will definately be smaller, but still enough, for plenty of leftovers. I usually try something new every year and it's usually the salad, since we have no traditional favorite. Everything else is tried and true; especially my mother's stuffing recipe. My menu is below, with links to some favorite and new recipes.


Egg Souffle


Mimosa Bar


Hot Chili Cheese Dip

Procuitto Wrapped Aspargus


Veggies and Spinach Dip

Spicy Garlic Shrimp



My Mother's Stuffing

Mashed Potatoes/Gravy

Green Bean Casserole

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Cranberry Apple and Ginger Chutney



Pumpkin Pie

Key Lime Pie

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week!


Wednesday, November 15, 2017





Exploring: A Sunday afternoon lunch date exploring downtown Sarasota, then a short drive to Lido Beach with the top down on the car. Beautiful fall day in southwest Florida.






Festivals: There are festivals in this area, of some sort, nearly every weekend. This past weekend was the Venice Chalk Festival and everyone told us we shouldn't miss it. We found it really interesting and many of the chalk artwork was very high quality, with artists from as far away as Italy and Germany. The downside for me was the location. It took place at the airport and while there was plenty of space for the artists, the atmosphere was lacking.



Reading: This book was on my Summer Reading List and I just got around to reading it a few weeks ago. It reintroduces an interesting character from The Widow and is the best book I have read in some time. Lots of twists and turns at the end, and I couldn't stop reading.



Golf: Really enjoying the cooler temperatures (no more 90's), especially for golf. I haven't been golfing as much as I like in the past few years, but now that year round golf is possible, I plan to change that.

Happy Wednesday!


Friday, November 10, 2017

Florida Decor - Living Room




My house in Michigan was a mixture of warm colors and dark wood, which fit the style of the house and the wooded lot. I knew when we moved to Florida, I wanted to go lighter, brighter and primarily a neutral, coastal feel, with pops of color. We found a great furniture store (Pamaro Shop in Sarasota) that had exactly what we were looking for. I didn't want tropical, but I wanted it to feel like a Florida house the minute you walked in. There is a seashell pattern on the chairs, but it's subtle. The two paintings are something we have owned for years (since Memphis), but I think they work really well in this room.










Some of my favorites are the tv stand with its weathered finish and tourquoise accents, the starfish base lamps (also subtle) and the brightly colored rug (Wayfair) that picks up all the various shades of blue and green.

It's way out of our comfort zone, but I love how it turned out.

See adjacent kitchen and dining area for a complete picture of the open concept space.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Unstuffed Cabbage Soup





It's not really soup weather here in Florida, but I think my body clock knows it's fall and that is what I have been craving, regardless of the temperature outside. This recipe is one I have wanted to try for a long time, since stuffed cabbage (Galumpki) is one of my husband's favorites. However, they are rather labor intensive, so I usually only make them on holidays or for a birthday treat.

As you can see from the photo, this soup is very hearty and contains all the traditional stuffed cabbage ingredients; ground beef, tomatoes, rice and cabbage. I was skeptical that the flavor would be there as well, but it really was. This recipe makes a lot, so the second day left overs were even better. It really is a great alternative to traditional stuffed cabbage and all the work required. Of course, there is nothing like the real thing, but as a shortcut, this will be in my recipe repertoire for good.


Unstuffed Cabbage Soup

1 1/2 cups minute rice, prepared as per package directions

1 small onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 lbs ground beef

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

2 cans diced tomatoes (14.5 ounce)

1 can tomato paste (6 ounce)

3 T Worcestershire sauce

32 ounces chicken broth plus 1 1/2 cups water

1 head cabbage, sliced into strips

Prepare rice and set aside. In a large soup pot, brown ground beef, onions and garlic. Add salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth and water and bring to a simmer. Add the cabbage, stir and cook on medium low for about 45 - 50 minutes or until cabbage is soft. Add prepared rice and a bit more water if needed. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Enjoy!


Friday, November 3, 2017

Book Club Month Two




I am still feeling my new book club out and have decided at this point to take it for what it is. I won't be sharing pretty photos of table settings and lovely meals as before. It's just a different vibe and I'm hoping that it will evolve into something a little more social. I am the new kid on the block and don't feel right suggesting too many changes yet. But, give me a few months and I'll be bringing a bottle of wine to share and see how it goes.

It was a really good book discussion and what made it even better was that the author's mother lives in our neighborhood and joined us to give great insight into her daughter's writing. I really enjoyed the book (All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg) and the writing style, while some did not. Interestingly, it was just named to a list of books to read if you enjoy This Is Us, because of all the timeline jumps and twists that occur. It is a rather dark book and what I would describe as a literary novel, rather than mainstream fiction, but as always, a book club is a great way to go out of your reading comfort zone and discover an enjoyable book you may not have otherwise chosen.

Next month we are reading Lisa See's lastest book, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, so that should be more of a crowd pleaser.

Happy Reading and have a wonderful weekend!


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Feeling Nostalgic




Halloween always makes me a little nostalgic for the days of pumpkin carving, class parties and trick or treating. Of dusting off my sewing skills and putting together the perfect costumes for my daughters. Of that sweet moment when they arrived back home with their big bucket of candy; usually tired and cold, but so excited to spill it all out and sort through their haul.



We always had a wonderful Halloween night in our neighborhood, where the moms stayed home to pass out candy and the dads; in a big group of friends, took the kids from house to house. It was so fun to have kids and dads I knew well, ring the doorbell and shout trick or treat. I always made a fuss over their costumes and treated the dads to a nip of something spiked to keep them warm. Once our neighborhood was done, they would pile in a car and trick or treat at a few houses of friends in other neighborhoods too. It was the perfect suburban Halloween and I'm glad my girls were able to experience it.




I'm not sure how many trick or treaters I will have tonight, since we live in a gated community and there are very few children here. But there are some, so I will have a bowl of candy ready, the porch lights on and look forward to seeing all the cute costumes. And, I will actually be able to see the costumes without the addition of a winter parka, hats and mittins, like Halloween night in Michigan traditionally requires ;-)

Happy Halloween!


Friday, October 27, 2017





I'm loving discovering new to me plants and hoping that this hibiscus makes it through the cooler weather we are starting to have here in Florida. It's all trial and error to this Midwest girl, but it's fun figuring it out. I'm learning that these tropical plants love the heat and humidity, but do not love a lot of water, unless they are in the direct sunlight all day.



Speaking of cooler temperatures - we were able to open the door wall and windows this week, with nighttime lows in the high 50's/low 60's and sunny days in the mid to upper 70's. It will be back in the 80's, but the 90's and humidity are gone for now. I think I'm really going to enjoy my first late fall/winter in Florida.




We have made a few changes to our house as time goes on. First, the oars I painted and hung on the dining room ship lap wall needed a little something more, so I added some rope accents and I love the texture and coastal vibe it brings. Also, we ended up changing the handles on the kitchen cabinets (before) and they definately give a more modern feel to the space. In the next few weeks, I will be posting the remaining rooms of my Florida home tour - just waiting for a few finishing touches.





I don't watch a lot of television, but Outlander, Poldark and Grey's Anatomy are all living up to my expectations and then some. Outlander has been wonderful in Season 3 and is based on my favorite book in the series, Voyager. Seeing it brought to life is amazing and emotional for me and really my only quibble is the inevitable changes from the book. But, I feel that way about every book adaptation. Poldark lost me a little last season, but season 3 has been really good and Ross is back to being the anti hero we love. Grey's Anatomy continues to amaze me that after 14 seasons the writers and the actors all continue to bring the drama to Seattle Grace (Grey Sloan Memorial) and continue to surprise me. Last night's episode with flashbacks to Riggs's and Megan's backstory during the war in Iraq was so good! I didn't mention This Is Us and that was deliberate. I'm still watching, but there is something missing for me so far this season.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Broccoli Cheddar Soup




When I talk on the phone to one of my daughters, and they are upset about something, all I really want is to give them a hug and sit them down in my kitchen and cook them some comfort food. But, when you are separated by hundreds of miles, it just isn't something you can easily do.

When I was in Michigan last week, Melissa had been traveling for work the week before, and all she really wanted was a night in, with a home cooked meal (made by her mom) and some relaxation in front of the television. Since in was a blustery day, we decided on soup, some good bread from the bakery and wine. I improvised on my usual Crockpot Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe, since it was late in the day and I think this version was even more delicious. From start to finish, it took about 1 hour - not bad for home made soup on a Sunday night.


Broccoli Cheese Soup

3 small broccoli heads, cut in 1 inch pieces (about 3-4 cups)

4 grated carrots

1 stick butter

1 small onion, diced

1/3 cup flour

2 cups milk

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups 1/2 and 1/2

Salt and pepper to taste

3 cups grated sharp cheddar

Melt butter in large soup pot. Add onions and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle flour on top and stir until light brown, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, chicken broth and half and half. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add broccoli and carrots. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low and simmer 20-30 minutes until broccoli and carrots are tender. Stir in cheese until melted. Add more salt and pepper as needed. Enjoy!


{ Linking with these friends}

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

Have a Daily Cup

Between Naps on the Porch

21 Rosemary Lane


Rattlebridge Farm

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Saying Yes To The Dress






It was a whirlwind few days in Michigan and though the weather wasn't as picture perfect fall as I had hoped, it really didn't matter, since spending time with my daughters was really the important part of the weekend.

On Saturday, we (Megan, Melissa - the maid of honor, Megan's future mother in law and me) had two appointments at bridal salons and had high hopes that Megan would find her wedding dress. Our first appointment was everything we had hoped it would be and we all were in tears when she tried on the perfect dress and the stylist put a veil on her. Since we had another appointment, we didn't place an order, but when the second bridal salon was a bust and Megan could not stop thinking about the dress from the morning appointment, we called and ordered it before they closed for the day. We drank champagne to celebrate and talked about a lot of wedding details that need to be finalized soon. It was just a lovely and emotional experience and I'm so glad I was able to be there.

Sunday was a blustery and chilly day, perfect for brunch followed by a visit to the a local cider mill. It's a quintessential Michigan thing to do in the fall so, we drank hot cider and ate fresh doughnuts, all the while, just a little sad that the weekend was coming to a close and Megan would have to head back to Pittsburgh.

Now, I'm back in Florida, missing my daughters, but looking forward to all the exciting things ahead as we move towards the wedding day in August.

Happy Thursday!


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