Friday, July 19, 2019

4 Ingredient Peach Cobbler







Peaches and July just go together and if you are searching for an easy and delicious recipe, try this one.  Because I love something like this for breakfast, that’s how I will enjoy it, but it would also be a delicious dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the top.

The fact that this recipe has four ingredients makes it my favorite kind.  No big shopping list required, because you most likely have what you need in your pantry.  It’s a spur of the moment dessert for when company drops by or your sweet tooth is calling.

To make:  spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.  Pour in 1 can of sliced peaches with juice.  Pour 1/2 packet yellow cake mix on top and press down.  Dot with 1/2 stick of butter cut in small pieces.  Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste.  Bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees.

That’s it and somehow after baking,  it magically becomes peach cobbler.

Enjoy!



Friday, July 12, 2019

On Turning 60




So, I have some thoughts on turning 60.




 First, it’s not so bad!  60 is the new 40, right.  But, in all seriousness a few years ago, I was dreading leaving my fifties and 60 sounded like a really big number.  After moving to Florida and totally reinventing my lifestyle, I am in better shape than I have been in many years, my heath is good and life here is really like living in paradise everyday.  There is a lot to celebrate.

I wrote about my health journey after being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes here, and how that was really the catalyst for me to make changes.  There are so many health issues associated with Diabetes and I was determined to overcome all those challenges.  Along the way, I reclaimed the active younger me who I had lost.  Who was that person that drank a can of Coke for breakfast ?! Walking and yoga, along with healthier eating will be what keeps me young and enjoying retirement with my husband.  We retired young and are determined enjoy every minute of it.

Age really is just a number and that is so evident here in Florida.  I tend to be one of the younger ones
around and I am so inspired by those who are twenty years older than me, but still active every day.  It’s all about keeping moving, keeping flexible and staying strong.  I recommend yoga to everyone
for that very reason.  At 60, I am stronger and more flexible than ever and am proud of those 2
(working on 3) minute planks.  And when I golf, my drives are longer than ever.

So, I’m looking at 60 as the beginning of a new chapter.  A chapter of life that I am excited about, without looking back and worrying about getter older.  It’s a cliche, but if you are as young as you feel, I am ready to live my life with energy and new experiences for as long as possible.  There is so much to look forward to.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Key West Birthday Weekend




This past Sunday was my 60th birthday and I have a lot to say about that, but will save it for another post.  This post is about all things Key West and if you have not been there, go.  If you think you have been to other parts of Florida and seen all Florida has to offer, a trip to Key West will change your mind.  The best way I can describe it is that it’s part coastal Florida and part New Orleans, with a real island vibe as well.  There is a lot to do, you will walk from one end to the other and there are no shortage of places to stop for a drink.  I made it my birthday mission to drink as many margaritas as possible :-)

Sunsets are big in Key West and my favorite spot was Sunset Pier.  It had live music and a great laid back atmosphere. We also took a sunset sail, rented a scooter to drive around the island and all the pretty neighborhoods, took the Conch Train tour, toured The Hemingway House and Truman’s Little White House, went to mass at a historical basilica and shopped, ate and drank our way up and down Duval Street.

We stayed in a bed and breakfast right on Duval Street and were in a great location.  It had a beautiful, lush courtyard with a pool, where breakfast was served in the morning.  It was a little loud at night, since you are right in the action, but it’s all part of the Key West experience.

My favorite restaurant for both the atmosphere and the food, was Blue Heaven for brunch.  It was recommended by many and it (and the Bloody Mary’s) didn’t disappoint.  If you like pancakes, get the ones with fresh pineapple.  And, the roosters running around are just part of the charm.

It’s a six hour drive for us and we stopped on Islamorada for lunch, so not a bad weekend trip.  We are already talking about the next time.

Have a wonderful weekend!
































Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Summer in Florida




Summer in Florida is very different than the rest of the year.  It’s hotter than the surface of the sun (heat index 110 today lol) most days, but you get used to that pretty quickly.  The biggest difference is how quiet it is.  The snowbirds are gone and while I miss my friends, it is so nice to drive without traffic and go to the beaches and restaurants without the crowds.  We are enjoying spending time with the friends who are still here and also exploring the places we have been wanting to see.  I have a list that I hope to get through in the next few months.

Last Friday, we headed to Anna Maria Island, just north of Sarasota, for breakfast on the beach.  It was a beautiful morning, hot and sunny, but we found a table in the shade and mostly remarked on how lucky we are that on a whim, we can sit on the beach drinking coffee and eating eggs and toast.  Next on the list, there is a restaurant just south of us, that you reach by a water taxi, with possible dolphin sightings. Sounds fun, right?

Finally, after two summers, we have realized that the best Florida lifestyle requires a pool of our own and a bigger outdoor living space.  We have a beautiful resort style pool within walking distance, but think it would be perfection if we could simply walk out on the lanai and jump in our pool whenever the mood strikes.  There are permits to obtain, demolition to endure and probably months of construction ahead, but we are excited for it to happen.  The photo I’m sharing is taken at a model home and not exactly what we will have in terms of pool tile, but otherwise very close.

Happy Wednesday!





Thursday, June 20, 2019

Summer Reading List




It’s that time of year when a good book, a cold drink and the cool breeze from a fan can get you through the hottest day.  Or if you prefer, a book at the pool or beach is one of the best ways to spend a summer afternoon.  It seems some of the most anticipated books are published in the summer, when even the most casual readers are looking for a beach read.

My list has some favorite authors and series I love (Paul Doiron and Linda Castillo), a new novel by Elizabeth Gilbert (who’s books I have a love/hate feeling for) and to round out the list, ones I thought sounded interesting and had good reviews.

I’m especially excited to read Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune, because it sounds similar to The Joy Luck Club, an all time favorite of mine. And, The Comfort Food Diaries is a memoir about life relating to food and family recipes, always a favorite read.  I would love if you could comment on a book you want to read this summer as an addition to my list :-)

Happy Reading! (all books available on Amazon with a summary and review)



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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Old Bay Shrimp






Do you ever wonder why you thought it would be too much work to make something and then when you give it a try, you wonder why you thought that?  Whenever we go to our favorite beach bars, (and the list is long) we usually order peel and eat shrimp to enjoy with our first drink.  We know which places have the best, which for us means fresh as possible and spicy, rather than bland.

I went to the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning and was able to get some freshly caught gulf shrimp, so I decided to give this method a try and prepared a simple, but delicious meal of veggies and peel and eat shrimp.  This recipe is so easy, so quick and has that perfectly spicy kick we love.  The only change I would make, to kick up the flavor even more, is instead of vinegar for the boil, I would use beer.  No more bland shrimp cocktail for us - this will be the only kind of shrimp I serve from now on.

Happy Wednesday!



Old Bay Shrimp 

1/2 cup apple Cider Vinegar (or beer)
4 cups water
1/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning
4 cloves garlic
1 T cracked black pepper
1 lb fresh large shrimp (in shells)
2 T Old Bay Seasoning for tossing




Combine vinegar (beer), water, Old Bay Seasoning, garlic and pepper in a large soup pot.  Bring to boil over medium heat.  When water is boiling, add shrimp, cover and cook 5-6 minutes (until just pink).  Drain shrimp and toss with remaining Old Bay.  Place uncovered in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. (We like it at room temperature, so just refrigerate until it cools slightly). Serve with cocktail sauce.  Enjoy!






Friday, June 7, 2019

Volunteering







One of the last pieces of a new life in Florida, was finding a volunteer opportunity.  As it turns out, I found two.  Volunteering has always been a part of my life and part of my last job was recruting and scheduling volunteers for a city wide event,  so I knew it was something I wanted to pursue here.  It's also a great way to meet new people and at the same time, give something back.

For the past few months, I have been a part of the HOA Landscaping committee in my new development.  We are in the process of taking control of the HOA from our builder, as they complete construction of the final homes.  I knew that this committe was something I would enjoy and we have already received really good feedback on some of the things we have completed.  We have been counting trees, as well as planting flowers in lovely planters at all our entrances, which for some reason the builder never completed.  Our next project is updating some plantings in the pool area and I can't wait to get my hands in the dirt.

Just yesterday, I started a volunteer opportunity outside my neighborhood and in the community I have grown to love.  In Venice, there are small parks everywhere, all with tropical, Florida style plantings.  Also, the downtown area is beautiful and filled with palm trees and flowers.  I joined a group called Keep Venice Beautiful and in conjunction with the garden club, we volunteer to do just that.  It was hot, sweaty work, but I loved every minute of it.  As a bonus, I'll learn a lot about Florida landscaping and plants and this Midwest girl is looking forward to that.

Just another couple of important pieces of my new life falling into place.  I would love to hear how you volunteer in your community, church, school, etc.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, May 31, 2019

All About Book Clubs (and Our Latest Picks)





All book clubs are different. Including whether you meet in someone's home or a public space, serve dinner, snacks or dessert and coffee or even if wine is part of the evening.  I have been in three different book clubs, in three different states (New Jersey, Michigan and now Florida) and none have been the same.  But, each has built wonderful friendships and connections based around my love of books.

Perhaps the biggest difference, is how books are chosen.  Some groups rely on best seller lists, some have the hostess pick and some pretty much wing it from month to month, with no set plan.  In my experience, it is better to have a plan in advance or the most well read of the group will end up having more of a say in the picks.  I prefer more diversity, because then I read books I either didn't know about, or more importantly, would have never given a try.

My current book club chooses our books ahead of time and our reading year begins when the snow birds return to Florida in October.  We all submit up to six choices, then vote for our top five on the list of submissions.  A lot of the members like this because they can read in advance, if they choose.  We also can volunteer to lead a discussion for a book that we are the most interested in. ( I'm leading for The Last Romantics)  We meet on the first Thursday of every month, in our clubhouse and bring wine and snacks to share.  In January, we go out to dinner as a group and do not hold a book discussion.

You can see our list for next season is quite eclectic and I am looking forward to reading every one of them.  I thought perhaps you might be interested in reading them as well.

Happy Reading! 




Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Out and About on Memorial Day





As we celebrate our two year anniversary of living in Florida, we have come to the realization that there is still so much more to see and do.  And the summer is the best time to explore, because the snow birds and tourists are gone.  It's pretty quiet and most of the time you can walk right in the restaurants and tiki bars that would be a 1-2 hour wait during season.  Of course it is hot, but we are used to it now and you would be surprised how comfortable it is in the shade, even on a 90 degree day, when you are near the water.

On Memorial Day, we took our pup to a waterfront park in Sarasota that we have driven by a million times.  It was a really nice walk along Sarasota Bay with lots of pretty boats to look at.  There is a tiki bar there, but it was too hot in the area you could sit with dogs, so we passed on that.  Maybe another cooler day.

We headed back to Venice to a downtown restaurant restaurant that I knew was a great spot to sit with a pet on a hot day and it was perfect.  We enjoyed Margaritas, a delicious, casual lunch and cool breezes from the ceiling fans.  After lunch, we walked across the street to take a selfie in front of the newly painted mural, designed just for Instragram pics and Venice hashtags.

Happy Tuesday!





Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner





When your husband tells you that you have made one of your best dinners yet, you know you have found a good recipe.  I can always count on Skinnytaste for healthy meals, but more importantly, I always find that the recipes have so much flavor.  We all want to eat as healthy as possible, but who wants to eat bland food that tastes like cardboard?

This sheet pan meal was so easy too!  Everything was basically mixed in a big bowl and then spread on a sheet pan for baking.  After it comes out of the oven, you squeeze on more lemon juice and sprinkle with feta cheese, for a finishing touch.  The oregano is really the star and while the recipe calls for fresh, I used dried and it was delicious.  The skinless chicken thighs (which I rarely use) were very juicy and perfect for the cooking time required with this dish.  Served with a side of sautéed aspargus, it made a light and flavorful Sunday night dinner, without a lot of fuss or cleanup.

One note: I only used one sheet pan, spreading everything out carefully, and it was fine.

Happy Tuesday!


 


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Life Lately (Beach and Books)





Life lately or at least this week, has consisted of beaches and books.  We have entered the summer rainy season (a little early) in tropical southwest Florida and while we still have beautiful, sunny beach days, we also get periods of rain quite often, perfect for reading.

Mother's Day was hot and sunny and since I wasn't with my girls, I chose to spend the day at the beach; always a mood lifter.  Siesta Key beach was perfect as usual, but with a little more wild surf than normal and it's so relaxing listening to the waves crash.  We tried a new to us Mexican restaurant and though the food was good, the margaritas were not and since I'm always on the search for the perfect margarita, I don't think we will be back.

Tuesday night, after being rained out for golf in the afternoon,  I wanted some exercise and fresh air, so I went to sunset yoga on the beach.  It was cloudy and windy, so not much of a sunset, but the waves were really crashing and I loved it.  It's such a peaceful option at the end of the day and it makes me happy that I can jump in the car and be at the beach in minutes.

The two book covers shown are books that I have read lately and loved.  And, both were books that I did not expect to enjoy so much.  The Lost For Words Bookshop is quirky, dark, surprising and filled with literary references.  One Day in December is more of a chick lit book, but it has a lot of heart and the story keeps you guessing on how the inevitable outcome with occur.

Happy Thursday!







Friday, May 10, 2019

Friends Here and There




I'm a lucky girl in the friend department.  Example number one; when I was in Michigan, even though I was busy with family obligations, my friends still showed up on the one night I was free to get together.  Instead of going to a restaurant where it is hard to talk to everyone, one of my friends offered to host us at her home and it was perfect.  I could mingle, give lots of hugs and left to fly back to Florida feeling very loved.  I think that this particular group of friends has learned to hold on tight to each other, because we have history together.  These kinds of friendships take years to build and nurture and there is a shorthand when we see each other.  They know and love my kids and I know and love theirs.  We are there for each other; both in the good times and bad.  I may live miles away, but it really doesn't matter in the least.

Then there are the new friendships I have made here in Florida.  There are some wonderful women in my neighborhood who are fun, welcoming and supportive.  I have become close to many and look forward to our fledging friendships growing over the years.  We also have been so fortunate to have some good friends from Michigan, living here in Venice and they have introduced us to their circle of friends as well.

You wonder as an empty nester how easy it will be to make new friends without the element of children and schools in the mix.  I have found it to be possible, as long as you are willing to put yourself out there a bit.  Empty nesters are in the same stage of life and looking for like minded people, going through all the same life changes.  Change is what keeps us young and while I cling to old friendships, it is the new friendships and experiences that help make life interesting.

Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Mother's Day!






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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, pedicures with my daughters, martinis, yoga, lilly

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