Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Sausage, Spinach and Tomato Breakfast Casserole

If you read my last post, you already know that I had company to cook for recently and it worked out perfectly that before we went on our Tiki Bar Hop by boat, we had plenty of time to have a relaxing morning at home with a homemade brunch.  I wanted to make it easy and prepare an egg casserole that could be made in advance the night before, so my morning would be a little easier.  My daughters are fans of spinach in everything, so when I saw this recipe with spinach and tomatoes, it sounded perfect.  The recipe does not call for it, but I used zesty sausage, for a bit of a kick.

This dish went together quickly, even late at night when one can be tired from the long day and it looked beautiful when it came out of the oven. It got rave reviews from my family and I was told in no uncertain terms that I must make it again.  I served it with a pretty bowl of fruit, the giant bagels I buy at an Amish market (yes there are Amish in Florida - who knew?) and Bloody Mary’s, made just like I prefer with a bit of spice and a lot of celery salt.

We left the house full, happy and ready for a birthday adventure on the water. Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Surprise Birthday Weekend

After what my husband planned for my 60th in June, I knew I needed to plan something equally as special for his.  He is a low key kind of guy when in comes to birthdays, but you have to celebrate life’s big occasions and I knew all he would really want was to have our family together here in Florida - so that’s what I did.

He had no idea our daughters, son in law and Melissa’s boyfriend were flying in and his reaction was priceless when they rang the doorbell and he answered.  It took a lot of planning and secrets to pull it off, but we did it and it was so worth it.

Friday afternoon was spent at Siesta Key beach, then pitchers of margaritas at The Hub in Siesta Key Village, home to shower and then dinner at Sharky's in Venice.  There was live music and it’s always the perfect, relaxing spot to take visitors from the north on their first night in Florida.

Saturday morning started bright and early with a trip to the Farmer’s Market with Megan for fresh gulf shrimp and then home to serve brunch and Bloody Mary’s before the main event of the day.  I booked a Tiki Bar Hop on a boat and it was so much fun.  We cruised the Intercoastal Waterway from Venice to Sarasota, stopping at three bars ( Pop’s, Evie’s and Marina Jack’s ) along the way.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, but comfortable on the water and we even had a visit from a pod of dolphins, right next to the boat.  My husband loved it and it was so fun to just all be together on the water.

That night, after a day in the sun, we were happy to stay home and watch our Spartans win big in football.  I had put together a big spread of football watching food and we celebrated the birthday boy with a chocolate ice cream cake and key lime pie.

The next morning we were up early for golf and my husband was thrilled to be on the golf course again with his daughters.  After our round, we headed to a favorite spot on the water for lunch and one more round of pina coladas, then a few hours at the pool before it was time to head to the airport.

It was a weekend to remember and I’m not sure I will ever attempt to surprise my husband like that again, but I’m very glad this one made him so happy.

Happy Birthday (today) to my hubby!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

Of course it’s not very fall like in Florida yet and really never will be, but a Midwest girl can dream, right? There are no cozy sweaters or boots to be seen in my wardrobe, but one thing I can do to bring in a little fall, is cook with fall ingredients.  So many of my favorite recipes include either apples or pumpkin and while I like to save the pumpkin flavors for later in the fall, now is the perfect time to enjoy all that apple goodness. (If you type apple into my search bar, you will find all the apple recipes)

I always have a bowl of apples on my kitchen counter for a healthy snack, so whipping up something delicious was easy.  Since I’m a diabetic, dessert is not my friend, so I usually satisfy my sweet tooth with something sweet rather than savory for breakfast.  This Apple Cinnamon Breakfast  Cake is the perfect little portion to have for breakfast and really, it is almost like a breakfast bar, but better.  It’s dense and filled with apple pieces and cinnamon flavor.  You could add a crumble topping or cream cheese frosting, but to cut the sugar, I lightly drizzled the top with a bit of powdered sugar, mixed with low-fat milk.  Raisins or nuts would also be good additions.

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

1/2 stick butter,  melted
1 cup sugar (can use Splenda equivalent)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon 
2 cups apple, peeled and chopped

For glaze:  2 tablespoons powdered sugar, whisked with a splash or 2 of low-fat milk 

Spray 8x8 pan with cooking spray and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir together wet ingredients in order given.  Stir together dry ingredients.  Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Stir in chopped apple.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  When cool, drizzle glaze on the top.  Enjoy!

Cake for breakfast is my new favorite.  Happy September!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Books About Books

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, it is well established that I consider myself to be a bookworm.  I love any and all books, love to read and always have a book that I am starting, in the middle of reading or finishing and looking for the next one.  My love of reading started at a young age when I spent as much time at the library as possible.  I grew up in a small town and through reading, my little life became bigger and filled with possibilities.

There are three books that I have read lately that spoke to my love of reading.  They all take place in libraries or bookshops (or both) and are filled with literary references.  Through books and the comfort of being surrounded by books, the characters make discoveries, solve problems and find their way in the world.

These characters are quirky, endearing and brave.  They each step out of their quiet, settled life and confront an imperfect past, filled with secrets.

 Three books about books that will make any book lover happy.

Friday, August 23, 2019

My Favorite Salad Recipes

One of my favorite things to take when invited for dinner is a yummy salad.  I love getting out a big, pretty bowl and filling it with fresh ingredients.  It makes such a beautiful and colorful presentation, can be made ahead of time (as long as you add the dressing right before eating) and unlike baking, there is very little that can go wrong.

We are invited to a neighbor’s house for dinner on Saturday and when I was asked to bring a salad, I began to go through some old blog posts to see what I had made in the past.  I wanted to step it up a bit from my usual Caesar Salad or my go to salad with butter lettuce, green onions, strawberries, mandarin oranges, Chinese noodles and poppyseed dressing (make it - it’s yummy).

There are three that I am deciding on and have made several times before.  All are a little bit different than a standard lettuce salad and usually receive rave reviews.  I don’t know what the main dish will be, but any of the three would be good with fish, chicken or steak.  Follow me on Instagram and I’ll post a story on what one I make.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

1st Anniversary

My husband and I keep saying “ do you believe it’s been a year since the wedding?”  It really proves that time does go so fast and that life after such a big event returns to normal.  For eighteen months, we all were focused on wedding planning and while most of it was so fun, there were also a few stressful bits.  But, now that we’ve done it once, I can’t wait to do it again, because the payoff of the whole experience, especially the wedding day, is something I will never forget.  Being  the mother of the bride and watching your daughter marry her love is nothing short of amazing.

When Megan and I talk about the wedding, we both say that everything turned out exactly like we had envisioned and that we wouldn’t change a thing.  And, as far as the newlyweds go; still happy and in love, with an adorable puppy added to their life in Pittsburgh.

It’s been so fun looking back at the wedding photos, so here are a few of my favorites.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Life Lately

Isn’t August kind of a funny month?  Even though it’s still summer, there is an in between feeling as fall looms. I have already noticed that the sunset is getting ever so slightly earlier and I have needed to adjust my walking time.  And, for those of us who are college football fans (me!) the football news has begun.  But, the days are still hot and steamy here and I mostly stay in the air conditioning, golf in the mornings and as usual, have my nose in a good book.

The highlights lately include the beginning of our pool construction.  It’s quite a mess looking out the back at the moment, but the result will be worth it.  I’ve been also doing my landscaping volunteer activities, both with the neighborhood HOA committee and with Keep Venice Beautiful.  The HOA committee just met at our clubhouse and pool and spent an hour fine tuning some landscape issues that needed to be done.  I love both the community spirit of neighbors pitching in and getting my hands in the dirt.

I made one of my favorite and most successful low carb recipes a few days ago and forgot how good these pancakes are.  They are the perfect recipe for that last ripe banana staring at you from the fruit bowl too.

Finally, I want to share a book I really enjoyed.  Finding Mrs. Ford is a really good read, with a plot twist you won’t see coming.  But for me, the highlight is that it is set in Detroit in the summer of 1979.  I was going into my Junior year of college that summer and the details, both of the time period and of Detroit and its suburbs, were a blast from the past.  I’m telling all my Michigan friends and family that they must read it.

Happy Friday and weekend!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Florida House Tour - Some Changes

My philosophy in my new home has been to take my time and not add things just to fill the space, but to make sure it’s the right piece that fits. It’s about creating a calming place through minimalism. That means I resist going to Home Goods or looking at Wayfair, because of course I want all the things, but recently, I have made a few changes or completed a few rooms.  It’s a process, but for the most part, it is looking like I envisioned.

First, we ordered a comfortable chair that matches the couch in the living room, which gives us three chairs instead of two and is much better for entertaining.

A decorating dilemma has been that our master bath is directly off the master bedroom with no door separating the two spaces.  I like the openness, but I knew it needed something to add interest and some presence to the space. We put up crown molding and it turned out beautifully. I also brought in some coastal texture and style with a tall wicker basket, glass bottles, seashells and a palm leaf print.

Lastly, the guest room was the first room I finished when we moved in and I used a pin from Pinterest as my inspiration.  Recently, I have added some art from Etsy (Florida watercolor prints) and some comfy throws at the end of the twin beds to add a bit more coastal color.

My next project will be decorating the greatly expanded lanai surrounding the new pool with plants and accessories.  We think construction will start today and it will be a long process, but I’ll share as we go.

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, July 26, 2019

A Night Out, A Wedding and A Birthday

I arrived in Michigan to storms and I arrived back in Florida to storms, but in between, I had a wonderful time with family and friends.

My husband and I try to see our daughters as much as possible and sometimes that means splitting up and visiting them separately.  Or, only one of them coming to Florida.  But, this time, circumstances allowed all of us to be in Michigan at the same time and we were able to have dinner all together on Friday night.   We met at Melissa’s new townhouse, my husband met her boyfriend for the first time (it’s hard to accomplish when you live many miles away) and we really enjoyed spending time together.

The next night, we were invited to a wedding (our dear friend’s daughter) that Megan and Adam would also be attending. My husband and I were able to stay with some friends that night and it was wonderful to spend some one on one time with them.  The wedding was so fun and there were so many friends from our old parish (and the girl’s catholic school)  there to hug and catch up with.  And having Megan and Adam there was a huge bonus.  We live far away, but these are the kind of events we try not to miss.

On Sunday, I moved on to a friend’s lake cottage and my husband flew back to Florida. Over the next few days,  I was able to spend some quality time with my parents and sister and also help my Dad
celebrate his 85th birthday. He was really happy I was there and that made me happy too.  In addition,
 I fit in a few glasses of wine here and there with friends, a delicious brunch and a late dinner with Melissa one night.

At the end of the trip, I was tired when I finally sat down in my seat on the plane. but satisfied that I had seen those I needed to see the most.  And as always, I will be back.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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.


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!

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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, martinis, yoga, lilly

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