Monday, December 30, 2019

Christmas in Michigan

We are back in Florida after a whirlwind visit to Michigan for Christmas.  We were able to spend time with friends, my daughters, my son in law and his family, siblings, parents, aunts and uncles and many twenty something nieces, nephews and boyfriends and girlfriends.

We drove from one end of metro Detroit to the other, including a trip to my brother’s house in Toledo.  The weather was a balmy 53 degrees most of the time and our winter coats were not required.  We had breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinners at many different homes and a few restaurants too.  Many glasses of wine were enjoyed, as well as a real treat when my daughter shared a bottle of Dom Perignon while we opened our family gifts on Christmas Day.  I received many lovely gifts and even managed to fit them all in my suitcase for the flight back.

The night before we left, my brother in law rented an arcade for my side of the family and after eating pizza we played games for two hours with all the nieces, nephews and significant others.  Who says millennials aren’t fun?  This is our fourth year doing something together the night after Christmas and we plan on continuing the tradition.

I think the photos speak for themselves and tell the story of a family happy to be together, enjoying each other’s company and knowing that family time is precious in our crazy, busy lives.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Glow Ride

Merry Christmas Eve to all of you.  Hopefully the majority of your Christmas preparations are finished and you are planning to spend the next few days with family.

Last Friday, my neighborhood held a glow ride where everyone decorated their bikes and golf carts with lights and garland and headed out for a ride.  There were six stops along the route and I helped host one of these stops with a few neighbors.  We served food, libations (I made Jell-O shots), had Santa and Mrs. Claus ready to greet the riders and even had live music courtesy of a trombone player.

It was so much fun and made me realize again what a great neighborhood I live in.  Christmas in Florida is different, but oh so fun to be able to be outside.

Have a wonderful holiday week!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Winter Reading List

My process in finding books to read is varied.  One of the biggest sources is other blogs authored by avid readers like myself.  I remember those who have recommended books I like and find more often than not, they don’t steer me wrong.  I add constantly to my Amazon Reading Wish List and I usually have many books to choose from.  In writing my quarterly book recommendation posts, I let you know what I plan to read in the next few months.

For winter reading, especially for those of you looking for a book to read by the fire on a cold night, any of these books on my list would be a good choice to chase away the winter blues.  Perhaps the one I am most intrigued by is The Flight Girls, since I love historical fiction based on strong female characters.  Conviction is the current pick from Reese Witherspoon and she rarely picks a book I don’t like.  I’m also excited to read the latest V. I. Warshawski and Temperance Brennan installments.

I also included the next book my Book Club is reading (The Only Woman in the Room) since it’s a bit different than my usual choices.  It’s a novel based on the true story of 1940’s screen star Hedy Lamarr and her fight against the Nazi’s.  There were brains behind her beauty and she is credited with an invention that was critical to the war effort.

Happy Reading!

Friday, December 13, 2019

A Sigh of Relief and A Cosmo Recipe

Since I ship my Christmas gifts wrapped and ready to pass out, I have to be concerned that they arrive in time. So, there was a big sigh of relief for me when all was organized and ready to ship. That big pile of presents shown in the photo below managed to fit in two (large) boxes and I dropped them off at the UPS Store yesterday afternoon.  I’ll be tracking them daily, but it looks like they will arrive by the middle of next week.  It just seems like with a late Thanksgiving and next weekend cutting into shipping days, it’s been a tight timetable all around.  Now I can relax just a bit next week before the flying, driving and schedule of holiday events commence.

If you need a fun and delicious cocktail for holiday entertaining, this Cosmo version has been a big hit at the two parties I have hosted recently.  The addition of the limoncello and mango juice kick up a basic Cosmo to the next level.

I’m giving you the recipe for one serving, but my trick for entertaining is to make a pitcher in advance and you won’t be mixing and measuring drinks all night.  Just multiply the equivalent amounts of each ingredient and fill a pretty glass pitcher.  To serve, pour into a cocktail shaker filled with ice, then strain into a martini glass.  Garnish with a thin, 1/2 lemon slice floated on top.

Cranberry, Limoncello and Mango Cosmo

3 ounces vodka (I use Tito’s)
1 ounce limoncello
1 ounce mango juice
2 ounces cranberry juice

Note: add less vodka and more cranberry juice if you like a less strong martini

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Life Lately

I have a collection of photos from the last week that tell the story of life lately.  We had so much fun with my daughter and son in law and their cute puppy.  My dog, who really had never shown much interest in other dogs, was a good dog host and shared her space and her toys very well.  We had delicious food on Thanksgiving Day and as always, my daughter was a big help.  I managed to knock a bottle of red wine off my counter, just as everything was ready, so that was fun lol.  Did you know that red wine comes out of grout with a mixture of baking soda and bleach.  I do now!

They left the day after Thanksgiving, but we will see them at Christmas which is very soon.  I have been cyber shopping and hitting a few stores, so I can have everything wrapped and shipped by the end of next week.  My decorations are up and a new addition this year is a small tree at the very back of the pool, on the waterfall ledge.  We love how it sparkles at night.  I like to use starfish mixed within my decor for a pop of coastal charm.

I have been enjoying my Aldi Wine Advent Calendar that I wrote about here. With my neighborhood Landscape Committee, I planted poinsettias at our entrances on a lovely, sunny morning and I have to say, decorating for the holidays in Florida is so much better (and warmer). There are a couple of holiday events on my calendar and our visit to Michigan is planned and busy as usual.  But, I can’t wait.

At golf this week, an alligator (and that’s a pretty big one) was sunning itself at the bottom of a Par 3 tee box and it was a little nerve racking to have to drive right over his head.  Finally, Book Group is tonight and I’m leading the discussion of The Last Romantics, by Tara Conklin.  The book nerd/honors English student in me loves that.

As usual, life in my empty nest is busy, but fun.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Pre Thanksgiving Photos

My daughter and son in law have been visiting since Friday and we have been having way too much fun to take many photos, but have managed to pull out our phones and shoot a few here and there.  The weather has been absolutely beautiful, with sunny, pleasant days, beautiful sunsets and cool nights spent outside on the lanai with candles lit, cocktails and music playing.

We have two puppies running around and making us laugh.  A lot of good food has been cooked. We have ventured out to the beach and have also spent a lot of time lounging by the pool.  We have watched football and basketball games together, even though we are fans of rival universities.  My husband and I also celebrated out 37th anniversary yesterday with a cocktail at the beach, followed by a lovely dinner at home, cooked by our daughter.

And, Thanksgiving is yet to come.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Thanksgiving Favorites

We are all getting into that crunch time where getting ready for Thanksgiving is a priority and at the same time, Christmas shopping and decorating are looming.  My daughter and son in law are coming to visit at the end of the week, so there will be a lot of fun times keeping me busy and that is why my lists will come in handy in the next few days.  I’ll be checking off what I can before they arrive and using down time by the pool to do a little on line shopping.  Since I need to ship all my gifts, being organized is critical.

If you are looking for some delicious Thanksgiving recipes, these three dishes are tried and true and loved by my family.  I believe that Thanksgiving is meant for traditional, family recipes and I am happy to share these with all of  you.  There are so many years worth of memories in these recipes, especially my mother’s stuffing, because sadly, she is no longer able to make it herself.

For two simple and beautiful touches to your table, this no sew burlap runner and a sweet place setting using a strip of burlap and a sprig of rosemary, make a big impact, without a lot of effort.

Let the preparations begin!

No Sew Burlap Table Runner
Cranberry Apple and Ginger Chutney
My Mothers Stuffing
Cranberry Almond Spinach Salad
So Simple So Sweet Place Setting

Friday, November 15, 2019

Aldi Wine Advent Calendar (The Story)

Last week, I did something so unlike me.  I’m not a trendy shopper and waiting in line to spend my money seems kind of crazy to me.  But, ever since last year, when I saw bloggers and Instagram friends enjoying their single serving bottles of wine each night during advent, I was determined to not be left out of the fun this holiday season.

For some reason, the Aldi Wine Advent Calendar is the one people go crazy for, even though other places like Costco have their own version now.  From word of mouth, I knew I needed to get to the store early and wait in line, because they sell out quickly.  I didn’t know what to expect, so I got there at 8:00 for a 9:00 store opening.  Conveniently, Starbucks in right next door, so I grabbed my coffee and pulled up to find only two people in line at Aldi.

More shoppers began to arrive and I got in line with about ten people in front of me. Of course, since I live in Florida, standing outside is no problem.  I was very impressed with how organized it was.  An employee gave us a flyer (maximum two per person) while in line and 15 minutes before opening the wine calendar shoppers (about 40 at that point) could enter early, trade our flyers for boxes and quickly check out.  I was on my way back home before 9:00.

I was able to purchase one for me and one for my daughter, Megan, who lives in Pittsburgh.  Her local Aldi does not sell wine (Pennsylvania law) and  she is driving here for Thanksgiving, so no shipping required.  We will be opening and drinking our wine together, long distance.

There are several different varieties of wine (red, white, rose and blends) and each bottle is pulled
separately from a numbered opening, so each one is a surprise.

I can’t wait until December 1st!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Book Club - Where the Crawdads Sing

The book club in my neighborhood met last night with a record twenty four women. There was wine and the discussion was interesting, lively and thought provoking.  The book we discussed, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens was one of the best books I have read in a very long time.  It is beautifully written; part love story, part murder mystery and part scientific journal.  The North Carolina marsh, where the novel takes place, becomes a character in itself; as important as air to the main character, Kya.  The writing is lyrical and it’s one of those novels that stays with you long after you finish.

I have a love, hate relationship with best sellers.  It takes me a long time to want to read a book that everyone is raving about, because many times these books take on a predictably and formula. I call it the Gone Girl effect.  This book is not like that.  I promise you that you have not read a novel similar to this.  From the characters, to the setting, to the plot, there is something unique in how it is written and how it makes you feel.

Read this book, go see the movie when it comes out in the future and lose yourself in the story of “The Marsh Girl”.

Have a wonderful weekend.


Monday, November 4, 2019

Italian Food and Italian Cars

One of the things we enjoy the most about living in Florida is the spur of the moment opportunity to do something fun.  You can hop in the car and head to the beach, a great restaurant and on any given weekend; your choice of a festival or two.

Saturday, we decided that we would head to St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota for lunch at our favorite Italian restaurant.  When we approached the circle over the Ringling Bridge, we noticed that there seemed to be a lot more traffic than normal for this time of year.  I usually check to see if a festival is going on wherever we are headed, but didn’t think to this time.  When my husband saw that there was a car show happening, he was thrilled and when we discovered it was Ferraris on The Circle, he was even happier.

So, as planned, we had wonderful Italian food (Eggplant Parmesan and sangria for me) at an outside table and then happily strolled around the beautiful Italian cars, picking our favorite color (red of course) and getting serious sticker shock at the prices.  But, it’s fun to dream, right?

Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Witches’ Brew Cocktail

Happy Halloween!

As is my tradition, I love to make a fun Halloween or fall themed cocktail to enjoy while the trick or treaters visit.  Many of these types of cocktails use cider, which is hard to find in Florida, so this one intrigued me with both its simplicity and the readily available ingredients.  It can also be made non alcoholic for the kiddos by using sparkling water instead of wine.

In a clear glass, add 1 cup orange soda and 3/4 cup white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc).  Add 1 scoop vanilla ice cream.  The carbonation in the soda will cause the addition of the ice cream to foam like a witches’ brew.

Simple, but delicious and perfectly themed for Halloween night.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Busy Days

Our sleepy, quiet summer is over and the Florida season of snow birds returning and visitors planning trips has begun.  It’s a fun time of the year, but there will be busy days ahead.  We are still waiting for the weather to cool off a bit, but my pool should be done shortly and there will be lots of swimming and sunning in my immediate future, so warmer temperatures are just fine for a bit longer.

My social, as well as volunteer calendar is filling up my weeks, but if I didn’t like it like that, I wouldn’t let it happen. That’s the beauty of retirement.

Just this past week, I went to happy hour on the beach (wine and sushi) one night and had some returning snowbirds (all neighbors) over for cosmos another night.  In between, I worked with my volunteer landscaping group one morning and also tried to keep on top of some HOA involvement I have signed up for.

Finally, I did something many of you fellow bloggers have done, but I have not.  I met one of my readers who was visiting Venice in hopes of building a home here.  Kathleen is from the Chicago area and noticed we had a lot in common with our Midwestern roots.  In a coincidence, she is looking at using the same builder.  I feel like more of this could happen in the future, since Florida is a travel destination for many.

Happy Monday!

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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