Thursday, March 21, 2019

Spring Reading List





2019 is flying by and it's already time to post my spring reading list.  My reading has hit a bit of a dry spell and I have to admit I have not read a book that I really loved in way too long.  The exception was The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, but that's one out of many.  I do have high hopes for this list, because it includes some favorite authors that I always enjoy.  As always, my list and reading style is eclectic and includes different genres.  I read a lot of mysteries/police procedurals, but also love a good chick lit or psychological thriller.  Literature that is thought provoking is also a favorite. And, a series, with the same characters, is near and dear to my heart and I always anticipate finding out what old friends in books are up to.

There are two on my list that I am the most excited for.

 First, The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin, who is the author of The House Girl, which I'm sure many of you have read.  It is a currently a Today Show book club pick. Also, I have high hopes for the new book by JoJo Moyes.  I can honestly say, I have enjoyed all of her books and I have gone back and even read her earlier, less popular ones.

One of my favorite books of all time is In Her Shoes, by Jennifer Weiner, so while her books can be hit or miss, this new  book does revisit the sister theme.

 If you haven't read any of the Dr. Ruth Galloway book series, by Elly Griffiths, start at the beginning immediately.  The main character is an archeologist and professor, who gets involved in forensic bone identification with the local police.  She is smart, independent and a wonderfully written character.  The locations on the English coast, are some of my favorite to read about as well.

 Finally, The Night Olivia Fell is in the Gone Girl genre and sounded interesting, with good reviews.

Happy reading!







Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps







We have been having so much fun getting together with other southwest Florida Spartans to watch the basketball games.  There is a core group who rotate houses and lately there have been friends of
friends invited, making the cheering during the games even louder.  Luckily, the fun factor has been
high, since our Spartans have been winning and we are all still celebrating the win Saturday night over Michigan and the raising of the Big Ten Championship banner.  Shots all around that night!

We mix things up as far as food goes and all contribute to make things easier on the hostess.  When appetizers were on the menu, I took these Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps for something on the lighter side.  This is a Skinnytaste recipe, so no worries about flavor - her recipes are always good.  The chicken is cooked in the crockpot, shredded and the hot sauce added.  You serve it with lettuce cups, blue cheese, chopped celery and ranch dressing for do it yourself assembly.  The recipe doesn't say how much lettuce to use, but because you don't know how many cups you will be able to get from a head of lettuce, definately buy two to be on the safe side.  Enjoy!

Happy Tuesday!

{Linking with these friends}


Friday, March 8, 2019

Revisiting 40 Bags in 40 Days







It all began several years ago when I lived in Michigan in a big house with too much stuff accumulated over the years.  Too much that I was saving just because I had the space and also for sentimental reasons.  It was weighing me down, because I knew that a down size was happening in the near future.  I remember being so moved by what my priest said at mass on one Ash Wednesday about how Lent should be looked at as an opportunity to take something on rather than give something up.  So, I started practicing that idea and taking on the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge.  Each year during the 40 days of Lent, I filled 40 bags (or boxes) with all kinds of stuff to either donate, sell or trash.  And, each year my mind became a little clearer on what is really important.  It all culminated in the year we sold our home and moved to Florida and the process was one of the best things I have ever done.  I will link previous blog posts if you want more details of how I did it.

Now, as Lent begins,  I have very little to get rid of and am extremely careful in what I bring into my new home.  If something new comes in, instead of sticking the old item somewhere "just in case", I let it go.  Living simply and without clutter gives you room to breathe and live for the present and future.  I'm looking for something new to take on this Lenten season that will give me the same feeling of satisfaction. I think some volunteering is in order soon as a repayment to this new city that has given us so much happiness.

Have a wonderful weekend and Go Green on Saturday night!  Beat Michigan!

40 Bags in 40 Days 2013
40 Bags in 40 Days 2014
40 Bags in 40 Days 2015
40 Bags in 40 Days 2016

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

3 Things













One of the best things about living in Florida if you are a baseball fan, is spring training.  As a lifelong Detroit Tigers fan, when my husband asked if I wanted him to buy tickets to the game last Friday, I enthusiastically said yes. And, spring training games are the best, because you are close to 
the players, the Florida sun is hot and the beer (and margaritas) are cold. 




If you can stand the cuteness, say hello to my daughter and son in law's new puppy.  Yes, the newlyweds have a puppy and I have my first grand dog.  She is a cavapoo, named Markley, after the dorm where they met  at The University of Michigan.  She will be well loved and spoiled.




This is the book I am currently reading for my book club.  I just started it on Monday and am furiously reading to try and finish it by Thursday night.  I know I can do it, but it's going to take some effort.  However, my nickname is Evelyn Wood (the speed reader for those not familar) so I'm not too worried.  It's good so far.

Happy Tuesday! 



Thursday, February 28, 2019

Learning Florida History





I can tell you a lot about Michigan history and the influence of the French fur traders and the Jesuits, but in my new state, I don't know a whole lot beyond Ponce de Leon.  On Monday, I went on a tour of a beautiful spot just up the road called Historic Spanish Point.  It was a nice day to walk around and soak up the history, that ranged from shell mounds that date to 300 AD, pioneer life in Florida as part of the Homestead Act after the Civil War and finally the facinating story of Bertha Honore' Palmer, a Chicago heiress and one of the first official snowbirds.  There were stories of burial mounds, cattle ranches, orange groves and million dollar real estate deals that made Sarasota what it is today.

We walked on trails through the thick tropical vegetation, imagining clearing it without power tools.  There were no roads, so travel and shipping of the orange crops was by boat on Sarasota Bay.  The homesteaders picked the spot for its beauty, but the early native Americans picked it for its abundance of shellfish and protection from hurricanes due to its sheltered position on the Gulf.  The plants, trees and restored buildings were beautiful and it's a place I would love to visit again.  And, as an added bonus, now I know the historical significance of the names of the streets I drive every day.




























Happy Thursday!






Thursday, February 21, 2019

Slow and Steady






Yesterday held a significant milestone in my journey towards better health.

Over the past nine years, since my diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes, I have been all in on changing my
lifestyle and becoming more healthy.  It's been a slow and steady process that includes diet, exercise
and stress reduction. Along with improved A1c numbers, (3 month blood glucose average) I have
continued to lose weight over the nine years.  Yesterday, I hit my goal weight.  I have never gone up more than a couple of pounds in that time and I might hit a plateau here and there, but the weight has continued to fall off.   I think now that I have reached this goal, I may even work at losing another 5 pounds.

How did I do it?

Diet and Medication

It's important to ask your doctor to prescribe weight lowering diabetic medication, rather than weight
gaining if possible.  They might not tell you, but there is a difference.

My diet is one that has evolved over the years and I do not deprive myself of anything.  I eat
breakfast, a small snack, a later lunch that has the majority of my daily carbs and a light dinner or
protein/carb snack.  I count carb servings all day.  If I want dessert, I have it.  But, it will be a small piece of cake, one cookie or maybe even just a few bites.  Low carb ice cream, Bai coconut water and Truvia for baking are my secret weapons.

Wine does not really effect my blood sugar, but bananas send it soaring.  You learn what works for you.  I rarely snack and having given up caffeine a few years ago, do not drink much soda.  I used to drink regular coke and can't even imagine drinking one now.

Exercise

Immediately after my diagnosis, I started to walk at least 5 days every week.  I also stared yoga
which I love and has helped me build strength.  Since moving to Florida, there is no excuse not to get
outside.  Year around golf is a wonderful perk. I will never be one to go to the gym, but the important
thing is to move each day.  I also exercise later in the day to help my overnight blood sugar spikes.
My goal for this year is to try some new kind of exercise, like a Barre class.

Stress Reduction

This is probably the hardest to acheive, because life happens to us all.  But, I have learned to distance myself from things that cause stress, sometimes taking a step back if needed.  I quit my job when I could see what it was doing to my blood sugar levels and while not realistic for all, reduce that stress any way you can.

Yoga is a great way to acheive peace for the hour during the practice, as well as the way that peace stays with you.

 I hate the words self care, but it works.

There are no quick fixes to good health, but I am here to tell you it can be done if you are willing to make even some small changes.

Happy Thursday!



Friday, February 15, 2019

Weeknight Minestrone Soup






There are a lot of ways to get your veggies everyday, but my very favorite is in a delicious bowl of soup.  I saw this recipe for Weeknight Minestrone Soup on the Instagram stories of Lemon Grove Lane .  She talks a lot about healthy eating and I find her really inspirational.  I was especially drawn to this recipe, since it was filled with veggies and substituted a couple of potatoes for the pasta you often find in minestrone.  It also has carrots, celery, green beans, tomatoes and spinach.

The original recipe called for rainbow chard, but my neighborhood Publix did not have it, so I used the same amount of spinach.  I didn't have the Parmesean rind either, but added a handful of grated Parmesan at the very end.

This recipe is billed as easy enough for a week night, and I would agree.  The hardest part was the
chopping, but after you have everything ready to go in the soup pot, you basically simmer until the veggies are done.  I added the spinach at the very end, so it would not be over cooked.  You can find the original recipe here.  It's healthy and delicious; my favorite combination. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Out and About




It's been a busy few days, but so much fun.  You know how some days you are content to stay home and relax and other days, especially when the weather is beautiful, you want to be out and about as much as possible.  There is so much to do here and even the most simple things become special when there are palm trees, sunshine and water views in your sight.  I think I will let the photos and captions tell the story, even though I am missing photos from the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning (I bought some fresh Shrimp Ceviche that was to die for) and my early afternoon at the pool on Sunday.   
Life is good in Florida.




Book Group on Thursday night.  We have progressed to wine, snacks and a much larger group.  The book we discussed, The Great Alone, was one of the best books I have read in awhile.  It's very intense, but one that stays with you after you finish. 











On Friday, I was invited to go on a home and garden tour with a few ladies from my neighborhood.  
We saw some really pretty and interesting homes, both historical and new, but all with unique Florida 
style.  The last home, right on the Intercoastal Waterway, with views of the Gulf of Mexico as well, was three stories of fabulous.  We enjoyed a glass of wine after the tour to make it a most enjoyable day.












Late Sunday afternoon, we headed to St. Armands Circle in Sarasota for a little shopping, drinks and dinner.  It's a lovely spot and we found just the thing we were looking for.  We are still enjoying finding house decor with the coastal vibe we love.  My margarita was good and the sunset at Lido Beach was even better.

Happy Monday!


Monday, February 4, 2019

Tropical Super Bowl Weekend











A Super Bowl weekend that included a day at the beach with good friends visiting from Michigan.  What's not to love about that?  We headed about one hour north on Saturday, to the Clearwater Beach area and spent the day in the sun at a condo just steps from a white sandy beach.  We drank tropical drinks, had a barbeque, played some beach games and generally caught up with each other. We love living in Florida, but it is far away from our friends and family.  Days like this, where friends visit, remind us that though we don't live in the same state any longer, the connection is always there and really just a plan trip away, either direction.






Sunday night we went to a Super a Bowl party with some Florida friends and it was so nice to enjoy the game poolside.  The game itself was not the most exciting, but the company was good and it was fun to comment on the commercials and the halftime show with a group.  We had one Patriots fan and the rest were ambivalent, but we picked squares that paid each quarter, so that kept our interest.  

The dessert tray I took was a hit, and included Oreo Brownies, Lemon Squares and Chocolate Chip Squares.  When asked to bring dessert, I like to bring small bites, rather than a bigger dessert.  I find people will turn down a big slice of cake, but usually will say yes to a cookie.

Happy Monday!

{ Linking with these friends}




Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Best Corn Muffins









While many of you are dealing with extreme cold and snow, I am thanking my lucky stars that we are experiencing our typical Florida winter of some mornings in the 40's, but still warming up to the 60's
by the afternoon.  And that will last only for a couple days, and then we will be back to the 70's for

a few months. We did have a very nasty day on this past Sunday with rain and wind all day and chilly temperatures too.  We were invited to watch the MSU basketball game (our first loss in the Big Ten - so sad) at a friend's house  and when she said she was making chicken chili, which sounded so good on a cold day, I offered to bring these delicious corn muffins.  They are definitely not low calorie, but by adding all kinds of fun ingredients, they are not your mother's dry corn muffins either.

This recipe makes a pretty big batch (around 20), but I just froze the extra and they will be great to pull out from time to time.  I always use Jiffy Corn Muffin mix, because they are a local, Michigan based company and are a memory from my childhood.  But, any brand mix will do.  It's the other good stuff that really makes this recipe special.  Enjoy!

The Best Corn Muffins Recipe

3 eggs
3 T vegatable oil
1 15 ounce can cream style corn
1/2 cup frozen yellow corn
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 small can diced green chilies, drained
2 packages Jiffy corn muffin mix

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place muffin cups in 12 serving muffin tin.  Beat eggs and oil until well combined in a large mixing bowl.  Add creamed corn, frozen corn, sour cream, cheese and diced green chilies.  Mix and stir just until moistened.  Batter will appear lumpy.

Put batter in prepared baking cups with an ice cream scoop, filling almost full. Bake for 20-25 minutes until just starting to brown on the top. Remove from muffin tin and cool on rack.  Bake second batch as needed. Store leftovers in refrigerator.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Life Lately










First a note: there seems to be a bug going around Blogger and I am unable to upload photos from 
my mobile device (iPad) and the app I use.  It looks like it is a known issue, but I may have to figure something else out until it's fixed. So, here is a post with just one photo, just for today.


When we first moved to Florida, I couldn't have imagined how full and busy my life would become. And, there are still a few more things I want to get involved in and I'm sure more friends to be made. I love being active and there really is so much to do when the weather is nice all the time.


We are really enjoying getting together from time to time with a new friend group of local MSU alumni and fans to watch the football and basketball games. If we can't be tailgating on campus or attending games at the Breslin Center, it's the next best thing. It was our turn to have everyone over Monday night and it was a fun group and a great win. I made fajitas and a pitcher of margaritas, which we enjoyed while watching the basketball game. Here's to continued success for our Spartans and a deep run in March Madness.


I have been going to yoga on Venice beach on various mornings, but I went to the sunset class last week and it was as wonderful as it sounds. The peace that's comes with a yoga practice and the sun setting into the Gulf of Mexico in the background, is something not be be missed. Life is good in Florida.

On Tuesdays, I golf with a group of ladies in my neighborhood and it has been so much fun and a great way to really connect. It's very informal and we mix up the pairings each week, so you are always golfing with someone new. The snowbirds are back, so our group is bigger again and after golf, we always enjoy a glass of wine at the clubhouse. And, slowly, but surely, with consistent golf, my game is coming back.

It has been awhile since I used my doughnut pan for oven baked doughnuts, but I saw a recipe for Old Fashioned Sour Cream doughnuts on Pinterest and I was in the mood for a quick and simple glazed style doughnut. These are really good and by baking, you reduce the fat. I also used Truvia to reduce the sugar, but unfortunately, the powdered sugar in the glaze kind of cancels that out. So, like I always say, indulge, but practice portion control. Life is short - eat a doughnut when you want. Recipe and original pin here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Outlander Thoughts

 

 

I have a lot of thoughts about Outlander Season 4. But first, a little background. Over twenty years ago, I discovered the Outlander book series and have read each one many times and have eagerly anticipated each new one as is was published and the story continued. The wait time between books is anywhere from three to five years. There are currently eight books in the series, with book nine set to be published in 2019 and then a book ten (the final book) to come. So, you could say that I am invested in this book series. Being a lover of history, I find these books facinating, especially the detail of life the Scottish Highlands and in colonial America.

I had high hopes for the Outlander television series and while very good, it also has issues that as a book reader, I find hard to overcome. I have lowered my expectations and learned that the books are the books and the show is the show and that is fine. The characterizations at times aggravate me, but the sets, and especially the costumes are outstanding and bring the words on the page to life in ways I never imagined.

Season four (based on book 4, Drums of Autumn) has been really good for the most part. There has been a lack of chemistry between Claire and Jamie that is troubling, Claire's characterization has been wrong many times, but Jamie's is the best it has been since season one. Casting continues to be amazing and the newest villian, Stephen Bonnet, is deliciously bad. The costumes, especially the native American's, are something special and so interesting. The dialogue is best served when it comes from the book, otherwise it can be extremely clunky. Fraser's Ridge is something the show runners and set production got very right.

Here, along with photos from the episodes, are my favorite season four scenes, so far.

 

 

 

From Episode 1 - the Gaelic funeral lament at the colonial tavern. Such a great way to give our Highlanders a welcoming link between Scotland and America and the many Scottish immigrants in North Carolina.

 

Also from Episode 1 - Ed Speleers (Jimmy from Downton!) as Stephen Bonnet is amazing in every scene, but especially in the harrowing final scene on the river boat.

 

 

Jamie meeting Aunt Joscasta and our first glimpse of her plantation, River Run

 

Roger and Bree at the Highland Festival. Loved her clothes from the 1970's.

 

Jamie and Bree meet for the first time. Straight from the pages of the book and couldn't have been more perfect.

 

Life at home on Fraser's Ridge has always been my favorite part of the books.

 

Lord John and Bree's friendship translated well from the book to the screen and it was my favorite part of last week's episode.

For other posts on Outlander, just type Outlander in the search box on the sidebar and they will all come up. If you are an Outlander reader or watch the show, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Tuesday!

 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Olive Pizza Appetizer

 

 

 

This is a recipe that I pinned ages ago, but decided to try when I needed to take an appetizer to a football watching party. Do you do that with pins on Pinterest? You pin something that looks really good, but the pin languishes on one of your boards until it occurs to you that yes, you pinned it for a reason.

So, to describe this I'm going to reference that veggie appetizer that was so popular maybe fifteen years ago with a cresent roll base. This is very similar, but the base is pizza crust and the topping is a mixture of green olives, black olives and kalamata olives. (I used refrigerated pizza dough) You need to be an olive lover to enjoy this, but if you are, the flavor of the three kinds of olives together is delicious. I also like that the cream cheese layer incorporates fresh chopped parsley. It really brightens the flavor.

If you love olives, give this one a try the next time you need a quick, simple appetizer that has a wow factor. The original pin and recipe can be found here.

Happy Thursday!

 

{ Linking with these friends}

Stonegable

Between Naps on the Porch

21 Rosemary Lane

 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Winter Reading List

 

 

This list is a bit late if you count the start of winter as December, but there are still a lot of cozy winter days ahead, where a good book is called for. Especially for those of you who can curl up with a book, in front of the fireplace, on a snowy day. My reading spot here in Florida may not have a fireplace, but I love to sit on the comfortable couch on my lanai, with a blanket and a cool breeze blowing off the lake. Or, on those warmer winter days here, when the sun is shining and the temperatures are perfection, the lounge chair at my pool is the perfect spot to read a book too.

I have struggled with finding good books lately, but have high hopes for this list. As usual with my reading lists, I include a lot of the different genre that reflect my taste. I hope you find something you like and will let me know if you did.

Happy Reading!

 

A collection of personal essays and recipes

 

A favorite author of the Jane Whitefield series. This story has a similar sounding plot.

 

I never miss a Lisa See novel

 

I loved The Widow and The Child, so looking forward to this new one.

 

I love this author and have read all her books, but this one didn't get great reviews. Has anyone read this yet?

 

I have one book to add that I recently read and that I have conflicting opinions about.

 

 

It's probably the best book I have read in a long time and it's getting a lot of buzz. I could not stop reading it and it was deliciously creepy. But, the sexual content was excessive and lazy writing in my opinion. (Hello Fifty Shades of Grey) If you liked Gone Girl, this book is for you. Also the ending, while thought provoking, could have been fleshed out a bit more. It ended with more of a fizzle than a bang and left me wanting more. Have you read it yet and what did you think?

 

Linking with Show Us Your Books

 

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Michigan ➡️ Florida
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