Wednesday, April 25, 2018

What I'm Watching



I rarely watch network television, except for a few favorites that I have watched for years (Grey's Anatomy) and one new show (This Is Us). And, I still watch the housewives, but I'm down to three (NY, OC and BH). Southern Charm on Bravo is a favorite too. On demand has made it easier to keep up and catch up with these kinds of shows. Lately, I've rediscovered an old favorite and finally caught up with the big Emmy winning hit from last year. Here's what I'm watching.



Yes, I was way behind on watching Big Little Lies, but we don't have HBO and I don't usually like book adaptations, so I wasn't that bothered. But, we had a week of free HBO and I knew it was the one show I wanted to finally watch. I did enjoy it and thought the acting was pretty amazing. Some of the changes from the book were choices I didn't really understand, but overall it was very well done. I would like to see Season 2, even with Meryl Streep, who I do not care for. If nothing else, that proves how much I liked it.



Once Upon A Time is one of those shows that used to be great, so I stuck with it the past few years. However, I just couldn't get through it last season and thought I was done. Characters left, new characters were introduced and when I read the last eposode would bring back pretty much everyone, I decided to get caught up, so I could enjoy the series finale. And, much to my surprise, it's a pretty good final season.



I love discovering a Netfix series that is binge worthy and Retribution is a great find. It's British, dark and twisty; just how I like my crime dramas. You won't believe the ending in this one.

Looking forward to watching: Little Women on Masterpiece Theatre (PBS) starting May 13th and another installment of The Great British Baking Show (PBS) starting June 22nd. I think it's our last season with Mary and Paul and I wonder if the new version will have the same charm.

Happy Wednesday!


Friday, April 20, 2018

No Bake Peanut Butter Bites




When I see a recipe I like, I save it one of two ways. (But as an aside, remember the days of ripping pages out of magazines?) I pin it to a Pinterest board, or I bookmark it to my recipes folder on my IPad. Either way, it gives me a running list of recipes I want to try. My diet lately has been a little all over the place; not bad, but not my usual routine that I know works for me in keeping my blood sugar where I want it to be.

I refuse to deprive myself, so I have my tricks and I thought these No Bake Peanut Butter Bites from Mix and Match Mama were a perfect compromise when something sweet is what I want. Anything bite sized is perfect for a carb counter, because in short, you easily control the portion size. These bite size goodies, also have healthy peanut butter (protein), healthy carbs in the oatmeal and for that sweet tooth; a sprinkling of butterscotch chips. Next time I make these, dark chocolate chips might be the way to go. Keep the balls in the freezer, as the recipe states and they are even more delicious.

Added note: After eating these for a few days, I am finding the butterscotch chips a bit too sweet for my taste. I would make them again, but use dark chocolate the next time.

So, three ingredients, quick as can be and portion control. All my favorite things in one little bite.

Have a wonderful weekend!


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Monday, April 16, 2018

Sunshine State of Mind




This weekend, I went for a walk with my puppy on my favorite walking trail that starts in downtown Venice and ends at the beach. It was close to sunset on Saturday, so dinner time downtown, with a lot of people strolling the avenue, eating at outside tables and just a generaly happy, vacation vibe. At the beach, there was live music playing in the pavilion, couples dancing and many people arriving with their beach chairs to watch the sunset. Again, happy people everywhere.

Since I have lived here, I have noticed that people are active and out and about, everywhere I go. There are walkers and bikers galore. People embrace this endless summer and the happiness is contagious. Yes, I live here and life for me has settled somewhat, but when you are around others who are on vacation, it puts you in that frame of mind too. Walking becomes more of a stroll, rather than purposeful. There are no heads down, tucked away from the cold, but faces turned towards the sun and smiles.

I get asked a lot, by my friends and family in Michigan how I like the heat in Florida, especially in the summer months. It really is not a problem, because every place is air conditioned. Otherwise you adjust your outdoor activities to the cooler times of day. Shade and ceiling fans mean you can still sit outside too. A dip in the pool or at the beach feel that much better when the temperature rises. Blue sky and sunshine when I wake up in the morning, blooming flowers year around and seeing green all the time is good for my health and good for my mood. It really is a sunshine state of mind.

Happy Monday!


Thursday, April 12, 2018

3 Ingredient Banana Pancakes - Recipe Redo




This is definitely a worthy recipe for a redo since I am always looking for something to make when I have one lone over ripe banana in the fruit bowl. My original recipe and measurements can be found here, but it's really just as easy as mashing a banana in a small bowl, adding an egg and a bit of flour and mixing it all up. (I added blueberries, but they are great without as well).

The consistency ends up being perfect and I would put these up against most regular banana pancakes for taste. If you are looking for low carb (Type 2 Diabetic here), but don't want to feel like you are eating cardboard, give these a try.

Note: I used to use sugar free syrup, but am trying to get away from artificial sweeteners as much as possible. I like the idea of using all natural, good quality maple syrup, but only using a little bit. Also, when you don't eat much sugar, something like syrup can begin to taste incredibly sweet and you really don't even want much anymore.

Enjoy and happy Thursday!


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Friday, April 6, 2018

April Book Club - Ordinary Grace




My book club in Florida is very different than my book club in Michigan. The biggest differences being no dinner, no wine and new women I've just met, rather than my dearest friends. But, the underlying reason I go to book club is still there. I love to read. I love to discuss the books I read. And, I love to find that hidden gem of a book that is one that I would normally not pick if given the choice.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger is a book that is part coming of age and part mystery. The setting; a small town in Minnesota, during one summer in 1961, brought me right back to my own childhood in a small Midwestern town in the late 1960's. In this story, there is death and hardship, but there are also small acts of ordinary grace that can be so prevalent in small town America.

From Amazon: New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

You will feel the grief that this family feels and also understand how in the end, it is faith, family and friends that we all must rely on in times of trouble. It's a book that makes you think, makes you feel and that keeps you guessing until the end.

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Easter Weekend - Florida Style








We had glorious weather here in Florida for Easter Weekend and if only my daughters had been with us, I think it could be my favorite holiday now. For so many years in Michigan, you bought a beautiful Easter dress, but it was too cold to wear it, or you had to wear a winter coat and cover it up. No issues like that here :-)

We started out on Good Friday, deciding to attempt to replicate our fish fry/mass tradition, since three of the couples were right here. We went to a stations of the cross service at noon and then headed to Snook Haven in Venice for some old Florida charm. We sat in the sun at a picnic table, watched for alligators in the Myaka River and had a few drinks (sold in in cans only lol), along with a delicious fish lunch. We missed the rest of our group, our table at The Polish Yacht Club and the beauty of the old Detroit churchs we have attended over the years, but it was so fun to bring this tradition to Florida, in a brand new way.

My mother in law (who lives about 2 hours north of us) came for Easter Day and we had a simple, traditional menu of ham, scalloped potatoes, asparagus and a salad I duplicated from a restaurant we used to go to in Florida many years ago. I call it Key West Salad and it has butter lettuce, sliced strawberries, mandarin oranges, green onions, Parmesean cheese, rice noodles and poppy seed dressing. It's delicious. And of course, key lime pie for dessert.

After dinner, we headed to the beach to have a cocktail and watch the sunset. As far as I am concerned, I would be happy to experience a beach sunset on every holiday. As I have said before, life in Florida is good.

Happy Wednesday!


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

March Visitor Fun in Photos











We've had a busy month, with visitors one right after the other. I previously wrote a post about my daughter's visit at the beginning of March and that kicked off the fun. Later in the month, one of my good friends from Michigan came to spend a few days, before continuing on to Naples and we had such a good time. I tried to show her the best places in just a few days, and I think I succeeded. We were also able to spend some time with a couple other friends who either live here or were here on an extended visit. There was a lot of catching up time and a lot of wine involved, so really the perfect few days.

Last weekend, my sister and brother in law came to visit on their way to Orlando and it made me so happy to have family here and be able to show them our new home and the city where we live. We had an action packed few days of beach walking, pool time, shopping, sunsets and my sister's favorite; eating lunch and dinner outside. The weather could not have been more perfect for them and we hope they come back soon.

It is these visits; these little pieces of home, that make this move ok. Making new friends is fun and enriches your life, but those friends and family that you have a history with are to be treasured above all.

Happy Wednesday!


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Quick Easter Project - Twine Wrapped Eggs




It has been forever and a day since I have posted a DIY project, but Easter is here so soon, and looking back, this has always been one of my favorites. For these Twine Wrapped Eggs you need three things: twine (colored or natural), plastic eggs and a glue gun. Complete instructions are in the link, but really all you do is wrap tight and glue as you go. It's that easy.

I think the eggs would they look perfect grouped together as part of an Easter table setting. Pastels are pretty at Easter, but if you are like me, I'm drawn to more neutrals and naturals. These eggs, grouped in a grapevine wreath as shown, along with lots of pretty spring flowers would be an easy, but beautiful display.

Happy Thursday!


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Thursday, March 15, 2018





Doing: Now that we have lived in our new house for several months, we are working on some of the things we weren't in a great hurry to complete, but wanted to live with for a while before making decisions. One of those things is artwork and it's just recently that I have been feeling the need to fill some of the empty space. I don't want clutter, but have found a few unique, coastal inspired pieces that will do nicely. We also are working on getting some glass added to our front door that will solve a problem with lack of light in the foyer area. Our house is designed to be open and full of light in the back, but by living here awhile, we have discovered we would like a bit more natural light in the front of the house as well.


Watching: I know I have written many times about my love for British crime shows and I recently discovered one on Netflix that adore. Shetland is set in the Shetland Islands of Scotland and the scenery is as compelling as the crime stories. The two main characters DI Jimmy Perez and DS Alison McIntosh are just fabulous as written and acted. The accents are a challenge, but also part of the charm.


Reading: The best book I have read lately, is one I just finished this week. Force of Nature by Jane Harper is about five women who go on a corporate wilderness retreat, but only four return. The story is told in both present time (the investigation) and flashbacks (the camping trip), building up to where the two stories converge and the reader discovers what happened.



Excited About: Visitors! My guest room is getting used this month and I love it. We just love showing visitors around and seeing our favorite spots through their eyes. I love making them a tropical drink and seeing all their stress melt away as the Florida sunshine does its work.


Chateau Chantal, Traverse City

Looking Ahead: My next trip to Michigan will be for Megan's bachelorette weekend in May. It seemed so far away when we booked it, but I will be on a plane so soon and it really is the start of the wedding festivities with her bridal showers in June and the wedding in August. The bachelorette weekend will be at one of my favorite places in northern Michigan (Traverse City) and we will be doing a wine tasting tour. We can't wait to celebrate.

Happy Thursday!


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Living Like A Local



It's easy to think of living in Florida as one continuous vacation with constant visits to to beach. And believe me, it can be like that. I still pinch myself when I'm at the beach or the pool on random days, especially in the winter months. But, for a new place to feel like home, you also need some normalcy. I am equal parts introverted (I love to be at home) and social. Finding friends to do things with, either as a couple or girls outings has been slow to develop, but I can feel it starting to happen.

Last week made me feel like I am getting involved, getting out and about and doing things that the locals do.





On Thursday night, I went out to dinner and then to the Venice Theatre to see Dreamgirls. The group consisted of friends of a friend's sister, but it's fun to meet new people and everyone was very friendly. The production was good, with a local feel, but I have grown up going to community theatre, so I was ok with that. The one exception was the actress who played Effie. She was fabulous and her credits included The Lion King show at Disney World. It's definitely something I would do again and will check the schedule periodically.



On Friday afternoon, I went with a neighbor to the Venice Home and Garden Tour. It was a beautiful day and really fun to explore the homes and their tropical gardens. I was especially taken with the plant shown above (variegated dwarf ginger) and am going to look for a sunny spot to try and grow it. All of these tropical plants are new to me and I find them all so interesting.

Sunday, I invited a friend who is in town to walk with me on my usual afternoon walk and I loved showing her the shaded path to the beach that I love.

What's the saying? " bloom where you are planted "

It's what I'm trying to do.

Happy Tuesday!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Missing Her Already








My daughter Megan left yesterday and I am missing her already. We had so much fun while she was here and while I don't have photos of everything we did, there are a few to preserve the memories.

We had some pool days, as well as beach days. We did yoga on the beach, watched the Big 10 basketball tournament on the lanai (her a Michigan alum/us Michigan State alums) and had some great dinners and lunches at our favorite waterfront spots. We attended a Detroit Tigers Spring Training game and visited my mother in law as well. We watched the sun set from beach chairs and it was one of the prettiest we've seen so far.

But for me, perhaps the best day, was the day we spent shopping for her wedding. We had so much fun looking at possibilities for creating her vision. I now have two cake plates for the dessert table, awaiting the wedding day and that makes me inordinately excited. We also found a cute white dress for her to wear at one of her bridal showers and sitting in the dressing room while she showed me dress possibilities was such a touchstone to all those high school years of finding just the right dress for all those formal dances.

As all the empty nesters know, you go about your day to day life and while you miss your children, everything is fine and you are happy in this new normal. But, there is nothing better than having them home, sleeping under your roof and seeing their smiling face in the morning. And, you miss them even more when they are gone.

Happy Thursday!


Monday, March 5, 2018

Oscar Dresses 2018







Feeling very underwhelmed this morning by the majority of the Oscar dresses this year. It was definitely nice to see color after the all black social statement of the Golden Globes, but there just seems to be such a weight to the broadcast at this point, that I'm not sure it's something I want to watch anymore, even if it's just for the fashion.

The four dresses above were my favorites and all had a wow factor and required star presense to pull off each look. Too many of the ladies looked like the dress was wearing them and were not at all comfortable in their choice, but these four looked confident, beautiful and occasion worthy. I am always drawn to the dresses with a little sparkle and thought Jennifer Lawrence was perfection, including her loose blonde waves. Nicole Kidman always makes interesting choices and this one worked for me, including the oversized bow.

I started to write this by making a list of the things I enjoyed and could really only come up with one thing; the movie clips. It just felt like everyone, especially Jimmy Kimmel, were trying too hard and four hours of that is not much fun.

My favorite thing: having my daughter Megan here to watch with me rather than via text.

Happy Monday!


Friday, March 2, 2018

Primavera Stuffed Chicken





Don't you just love when you discover a new recipe that is as easy as it is delicious. Especially for something like chicken, that can easily be boring and repetitive. This Primavera Stuffed Chicken is full of veggie goodness and while I used zucchini, tomatoes and red onion, you could easily use any veggies you like, or have on hand. I went light on the mozerella cheese sprinkled on top as well, but you could add more for cheesy goodness. This is a keeper that is even good enough for entertaining.



Why did I cook this yummy chicken? Because this girl (my daughter Megan) is visiting for both some fun in the sun and some wedding planning. We are going to sit down with our computers and lists and work out all the details. The big decisions are made, but there are a million little things still left to do. For me, that's the fun part.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Primavera Stuffed Chicken

4 boneless chicken breasts (fairly thick)

1 small zucchini ( cut in thin half moons)

1 plum tomato (cut in thin half moons)

1 red onion (cut in thin slices)

Italian seasoning, sea salt and cracked black pepper

Olive oil

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese ( I used less)

Place chicken breasts in 11 X 13 baking dish, lined with foil for easy cleanup. Cut 5 or 6 slits in each chicken breast, being careful not to cut all the way through. Rub top of chicken breast with olive oil, then sprinkle on Italian seasoning, sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Stuff slits with prepared vegatables. Bake covered with foil at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until done. Sprinkle on cheese and return to oven (uncovered) until cheese melts. Enjoy!


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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Florida Decor - Lanai











A tour of our Florida home, would not be complete, without my favorite spot in the whole house; our lanai. When we were deciding on what we wanted in a Florida home, my number one necessity was an outdoor, screened space. I envisioned spending a lot of time outside, taking advantage of year around warm weather. We were lucky to get a fantastic lot, right on the water and it has been everything I hoped. There is Florida wildlife galore; mostly tropical birds, but resident alligators too. At first it was a little startling to see one, but now we take them in stride as part and parcel of living near the water in Florida.

We chose not to have a pool since we have a beautiful clubhouse pool, just down the street. But we did upgrade to an extended lanai, so we have a covered and shaded space, as well as a sunny area. To keep things cool, we also have a ceiling fan. The furniture is casual, comfortable and like the rest of our home, neutral, with pops of coastal color; aqua, green and blue. We installed a television on the wall and it's a perfect spot for entertaining, having a cocktail and watching the sunset.

A big part of the decor, are the tropical plants. I am enjoying learning how to take care of them, finding new varieties to try and filling colorful pots with plants that compliment our Florida style.

It's all about outdoor living here and we are definately set up to take advantage of that.

Happy Tuesday!


Friday, February 23, 2018

Strawberry Coconut Oatmeal Cups





It's strawberry season here in Florida and they have been looking delicious and fresh, both at the Farmer's Market and the grocery store. Getting in the kitchen and baking something delicious for breakfast was calling my name this morning, so I decided to put together a variation of the baked oatmeal that I love.

These Strawberry Coconut Oatmeal Muffin Cups are the perfect size for portion control, look pretty and keep sugar to a minimum. All the sweetness is natural and comes from the coconut and the maple syrup. To cut the fat, I used applesauce instead of oil, as well.

For me, this is the perfect sweet, rather than savory breakfast. I'm getting heart healthy oats, fresh fruit and natural sweetness, all in a pretty portion. Add a cup of coffee, sunshine and the fact it is Friday and it's a lovely start to the morning.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Strawberry Coconut Oatmeal Cups

2 cups oatmeal

1 cup coconut

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup chopped strawberries

3/4 cup milk (I used low fat)

2 eggs (beaten)

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup oil (I used applesauce)

Spray cups in muffin tin with cooking spray. In a medium bowl mix together oats, coconut and salt. Add chopped strawberries, milk, beaten eggs, vanilla, maple syrup and applesauce. Mix well, then using an ice cream scoop, fill 10-12 cups in your prepared muffin tin. Bake 15-18 minutes at 350 degrees until firm. Remove when cool, by running a knife around the edge. Serve with additional fruit, chopped nuts or a splash of milk. Keep refrigerated. Enjoy!


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Thursday, February 15, 2018

40 Days





For the past few years, I have tried to take something on during lent rather than give something up. The thing that really spoke to me, especially at the stage of life that I was in, was the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge. The premise of this challenge is to use the 40 days of the Lenten season and let go of things that you no longer need and do not serve you. To clear your home of clutter and open your mind to new things, including the peace of the Holy Spirit.

I wrote about my process here and here and here and while I no longer need to do this, since my downsizing is complete, I am here to be your cheerleader and let you know how amazing this challenge can be. We all have too much stuff and it's incredibly easy to accumulate things over the years. When we get ready to downsize, it can be overwhelming. Use this challenge to make it less so. One bag a day, whether it be for donation, the trash bin or resale, can add up nicely over the 40 days. As you are filling a bag, let yourself feel the weight being lifted and the opportunity for new beginnings.

We made our move 8 months ago and besides the sunshine and beach living, downsizing and having very little in storage has been my favorite thing about the move. I kept what I love, use and had room for and continue to be very judicious about what I bring in.

It's not easy, but it can give you the greatest feeling, once complete. The 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge is a great way to start.

Happy Thursday!


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sand Dollar Island






One of the ways you can take advantage of the beautiful Gulf of Mexico is to either own a boat, rent a boat or book an excursion on a boat. We most likely will not be buying a boat at this point in our life (though it would be so fun) and we haven't yet, but plan to rent a boat in the near future and do some exploring. When my daughters were here in July, we found an excursion that takes you, at sunset, to a pristine sandbar in Sarasota Bay called Sand Dollar Island. The name comes from all the shells and even sand dollars that you can collect.

Our friends had some out of town company from Michigan this weekend and since I had mentioned how great this excursion was, they asked if we would like to join them on their first time going. We never turn down a boat trip and it was a lovely afternoon on the water. The boat company provides drinks, or you can take your own and it is so relaxing to cruise by beautiful gulf front homes, a bird sanctuary and look for dolphins and manatees. Arriving at Sand Dollar island, just before sunset, makes you feel as if this sandbar is a million miles away from civilization and it's big enough that you feel you are alone there. You put your feet in the water and all your worries melt away as you watch the sun slowly sink.

There is a lot of talk here about "the salt life" that includes beach days, sunsets and boat rides. I'm living it and I love it.

Happy Tuesday!


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