Sunday, December 31, 2017

Top 3 Recipe Posts of 2017



2017 was not a year where I posted a lot of recipes. Between moving out of our house and into a temporary condo where I didn't cook a lot, and the actual move and the time it took to get settled, cooking and baking were not a priority. But, things have settled a bit and should be a little more back to normal in 2018. I look forward to trying a lot of new recipes and taking some pretty photos to share.

The top 3 recipe posts were read and shared a record number of times and as usual, were both sweet and savory. I tend to make a lot of soups and are my favorite kind of new recipe to try. Soup is just a healthy way to include a serving of protein, carbs and veggies in perfect portion control (my diabetes mantra). The baked oatmeal was a new version of many I have made over the years (I love it), but with a Florida twist. And, speaking of a Florida twist, shrimp recipes are a new go to, especially with bold flavors like these foil packets.


Shrimp Boil in Foil Packets


Unstuffed Cabbage Soup


Pineapple Coconut Baked Oatmeal


Happy New Year to all!


Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas in Photos








What a Christmas we had. It was a whirlwind of family and friends and I wish I had taken more photos, especially since I only have one side of our family celebrations documented, but I think that just proves how much fun we were having.

It was a totally different Christmas for us without having our house, but we did the best we could to keep as many traditions alive as possible, while staying in a small apartment style hotel. Our extended family traditions remained and we had a lovely brunch at my sister's home on Christmas Eve, an equally lovely lunch on Christmas Day hosted by my sister in law and a late night stop to meet more of Megan's fiance's family in anticipation of the wedding. We continued the week with a cousin's game night at Dave and Buster's and a fun pub dinner with some good friends.

The Michigan weather greeted us with a vengeance when we arrived and made us remember why we chose to move to Florida. Snowy roads on Christmas Eve had us slip sliding as we travelled around metro Detroit and the bitter cold temperatures had us bundled up in the boots, coats and gloves we had not touched in a while. It was -2 the morning we left Detroit and we arrived home to 74 degrees. Quite a change in a few hours. But, it was beautiful to have a white Christmas.

It meant everything to be there with our daughters and extended family and while Florida is home now, Michigan will always be our home at Christmas time.

Have a wonderful weekend and the happiest of New Years.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Sweet Potato Dog Biscuits




3 days until Christmas and I have a really easy last minute idea if you give the pets in your family gifts too. And, you can make these special treats for very little cost - I only had to purchase the baby food.

Since I'm not baking cookies this year, I needed to fulfill a Christmas ritual by turning on the Christmas music, pouring some coffee and spending some time in my kitchen feeling festive. These dog treats were the perfect compromise and I was even able to pull out one of my Christmas cookie cutters. You can use any sized cookie cutter and I went with a medium sized reindeer to work for both the small and large dogs in our family. When cool, you can pack these up in clear bags, add some festive ribbon and make both the pets and their owners happy with what is under the tree.

Merry Christmas!


Sweet Potato Dog Biscuits

Mix together 3.5 ounces of sweet potato baby food, 1/4 cup oatmeal, 1 T honey and 3/4 cup flour. Turn out onto a floured surface, kneed until a non sticky ball forms. Roll out to desired thickness (about 1/4 inch) and cut with cookie cutter dipped in flour. Keep rolling and cutting until dough is used up. Place on baking sheet, brush top of biscuit with beaten egg and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack. The cookie cutter I used made 12 medium biscuits.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Winter Reading List



If the weird and unthinkable happened and I didn't have a book to read, it wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would feel like it to me. There must always be a book downloaded and ready to read on my kindle app and immediately upon finishing, I look at my reading list, decide what I would like to read next and download another. Also, since my move to Florida, there is usually a hardcover or paperback in my pool bag for beach or pool reading, rather than using my IPad. So, to be honest, I'm usually reading two books at the same time.

My reading list is long and contains both books currently published and available for download and books with future publication dates. I have gone from reading book jackets at the library, to mostly finding interesting books from other blogger's recommendations. There are always old favorites (usually crime series), as well as new discoveries.

I just love the anticipation, possibility and magic a new book offers. All the books jackets shown are linked to Amazon with full descriptions, publication dates and reviews.












Happy reading!


Friday, December 15, 2017

Seashells, Starfish and Sparkle










A big part of my downsizing process, before we moved to Florida, was decreasing my Christmas bins by at least half. It was hard, but knowing that a lot of what I had, just wouldn't look right in our new home helped the process along. I have a few touches of red here and there (not pictured), but most of what I ended up using was neutral, a little sparkly and with a beachy flair.

I added gold Christmas balls to some seashell and starfish decor I already had and repurposed the gold and silver trees I always used on my traditional mantel to a more modern grouping on my island. My tree, though pretty, needed a bit of pizazz and to align with the beach theme, so I added some large starfish and I love it now. Next year I want to add some aqua accents too.

Even outside, the decor has a Florida vibe with lights wrapped around the palm tree and something that still amazes me - there are pointsettias planted in pots both on the lanai and the front porch. That is definitely not something that would happen in Michigan.

I am finding that less clutter, simple decor and quiet colors are what makes my eye happy right now.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

3 Things





On Sunday, our hometown team, The Detroit Lions played our new hometown team, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and I bought tickets for the game as my husband's birthday gift. It was a really fun day and we enjoyed experiencing a new stadium and seeing the Lions win. There is definitely a pirate theme happening and the pirate ship, as well as the cannons firing, were a fun touch. One wrinkle I didn't expect was the big cool down in temperature on gameday. It was a lot colder than expected (high of 60 degrees), but the Florida sunshine made it comfortable.



My book club met last week and we discussed Lisa See's latest book. I am a big fan of all her books and this one was really good as well. The first few chapters were filled with detail about the hardships of rural Chinese village life and how so much is ruled by superstition. It was interesting, but a little slow to start. Happily, the pace picked up as change and modernization came to the village through an escalation in the lucrative tea trade. If you like her other books, you will like this one too.



The Outlander -Season 3 finale was Sunday night and I loved it so much. There was a lot to wrap up, but it was very well done and very much in keeping with the book. All in all, I have been really happy with this season. It is based on Voyager, my favorite book in the series and while there have been some scenes I was shaking my head over, my favorite scenes from the book (Ian's kidnapping and the shipwreck/America reveal) were just as I always imagined. Having read the books multiple times, it is interesting to read the opinions of non book readers and see how they perceive what is happening on screen without much of the context. My familiarity with the books will always color how I feel about the show, but at times, it is magical to see the words brought to life. I especially enjoy the small details from the books that the writers include, as well as the wonderful costumes.

Happy Tuesday!


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!


Michigan ➡️ Florida
family, books, gardening, palm trees, the beach, golf, up north, msu football, detroit tigers, walking with my dog, trying new recipes, musicals, BBC, martinis, yoga, lilly

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