Friday, March 5, 2021

Last Night’s Book Club

 



The way my book club works is that if you suggest a book, you also volunteer to lead the discussion.  That is no hardship for a book nerd like me, because  I enjoy coming up with questions that are interesting and will move the discussion.  I am drawn to books that will bring personal experiences out and that the members of the book group can relate to or even maybe empathize with the characters.

This book, about of group of ladies facing that next stage in life after widowhood or divorce (similar in age to my book group) and having the courage to move forward by agreeing to live together in Tuscany for a year.  It seemed perfect for a group like us, who had all recently made a move to Florida from another state.  We started the discussion talking about where we came from and what gave us the courage to make such a big change.

Women In Sunlight, by Frances Mayes is a novel, but in a similar style to Under The Tuscan Sun, her more famous memoir.   She fills her books with rich descriptions of food, travel, home improvement and gardening that immerse you in the place, in this case Tuscany.  This is a story of new friendships, having the courage to change and living a different life than you ever imagined.  

Under The Tuscan Sun, is one of my favorite books and while Women In Sunlight, proves that the author is more accomplished at writing non fiction, it is still an enjoyable read and a way to visit Tuscany right from your favorite reading spot.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Life Lately

 


We are experiencing the most beautiful weather; the kind that draws you outside where you take notice of the birds chirping, the blue sky and the sunshine.  I also feel incredibly optimistic about Covid, with more and more people getting the vaccine and positivity rates dropping in the state overall and especially my county (Sarasota) and even my zip code at <1%.  Still lots of mask wearing, but otherwise open.

I have been enjoying the pool at home and getting out and about too, like to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning.  How fun to get fresh, local vegetables in the winter and especially strawberries, direct from Plant City. We have a fabulous Farmer’s Market in Venice with live music, a variety of vendors and the added bonus of blue skies and Royal Palms overhead.

 There has been a lot of planting going on both at my house and in my neighborhood where I continue as chair of the Beautification Committee.  We designed a new bed by our pickle ball courts that is getting raves. It’s hard work, but I do love it.  With new plantings in Florida, there is no shirking from daily watering and that is keeping me on my toes, with all the sunny, dry weather.

Here is a sampling of my life lately in photos.  Happy last day of February!







Monday, February 22, 2021

Chai Tea Latte at Home

 



I was so happy to find this recipe.  A chai tea latte is something I would order more often at coffee shops, but when you don’t drink caffeine, there really isn’t ever the option.  At home, I can simply make this using decaf black tea.  And, my newest obsession and Amazon purchase, my hand held frother, takes it to another level.

Here is how you make the chai spices.  

Mix together:

1 T ground nutmeg

1 T ground ginger

1 T ground cloves

2 T ground cardamon

2 T ground cinnamon

Store in an airtight container.

To make one serving of chai tea latte:

Brew one serving of strong black tea.  In a small glass pitcher or measuring cup add 3 ounces of half and half, 1/2 tsp of chai spice mix and a splash of vanilla.  Heat  for 45 seconds in microwave, then froth.  Add 2 squeezes of honey to hot tea, stir and then top with the spiced froth.

This recipe is so simple, delicious, and a great alternative to coffee.  It also proves that anyone can be a barista, right at home.

Happy Monday!


Monday, February 15, 2021

What I am Watching

 

Sometimes, I am more inclined to watch something on Netflix than read and that is where I am lately.  I have found some really good series; some new and some that have been around for awhile.  I love a crime series and found two that really hooked me.  Both are smart, brooding and immerse you in the location (Sweden and Wales) where they were shot, which I love.  The Queen’s Gambit is simply stunning and I especially loved the costumes.  Who knew that a chess tournament could be so exciting?  The Dig is the quiet kind of English countryside story that I enjoy, with the intrigue of an archeological dig and the start of WWII as a backdrop. Think Downton Abbey.


The Dig on Netflix


Hinterland on Netflix


The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix


Young Wallander on Netflix

While The Dig was an original Netflix movie, Young Wallander will return for another season. Hinterland will not from all I can tell.   I’m hoping that The Queen’s Gambit will have another season as well.  There are a lot of shows on Netflix, but finding quality is sometimes difficult.  These are all ones that I was sad to see the final credits roll by and definitely worth watching.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Snow Memories

 


It is easy to sit in the sunshine and remember fondly the snowy days of a Michigan winter.  There were the good things.  A cozy day at home with the fireplace going while snow fell softly and covered everything so prettily.  Walking in the woods with the crunch of snow under my boots. Waking up on Christmas morning to fresh snow.  Ice skating on a pond, skiing in fresh powder and taking my daughters sledding on a school snow day with all their friends.

There were also the annoying parts that I don’t miss.  Endless days of morning snow and having to shovel the driveway to take Melissa to pom practice by 6 a.m. on slippery roads.  Having to shovel a tunnel in deep snow, just so my dog could go outside.  The dirty snow piles on the side of the road and in parking lots, taller than your head, that took forever to melt.  Fighting with the snow blower.

But, today I am going to remember how pretty and peaceful it can be on a snowy winter morning.  











Friday, February 5, 2021

Seize the Day

 



Thoughts on life today as we hopefully near the end stages of the pandemic and start to feel some hope. From the beginning, at least after I was able to do my own research and not get caught up in the media hysteria, I have not let worry about the virus overtake my life.  Yes, be safe and follow the guidelines based on science, but not so frightened that I kept to my house and didn’t see anyone.  

I live by that motto that life is short and you need to your spend your time intentionally.   My daughters needed to see me and I needed to see them.  We did it as safely as possible and I have no regrets for the time we were able to spend together this year.  Family is everything and I really feel sad for those who have not felt comfortable seeing their loved ones for a whole year.  That is too many memories lost, never to be found.

The hope comes from the vaccine and every shot it the arm is one step closer to normal.  Every time I see our Governor giving the vaccine totals and announcing new locations to receive the first shot, I feel myself silently cheering.  Thank goodness for the scientists, because this is about more than the hospitals, the economy and even the simple act of going to a restaurant.  It’s about that human connection that we all need.  

So yes, I am approaching this new year as the year to start to make those connections again.  Two things happened yesterday towards that goal.  I had lunch here in Florida with a Michigan friend who lost her husband suddenly last September.  I gave her a big hug when I saw her and have no regrets about that. Then later, I started to rebook a Key West trip with my daughters that was supposed to happen last Mother’s Day weekend.  It was something that I needed after my Mother’s passing  (one year ago ) and while Covid may have delayed it, we will wear our masks and make it happen this Mother’s Day.  

Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Strawberry Baked Oatmeal

 



It’s the start strawberry season in Florida.  It will forever be strange to me that strawberry season happens in Florida during the winter months, because June is strawberry season in Michigan.  There are Florida strawberries at great prices at the grocery stores, as well as farm fresh quarts at the Farmer’s Market.  Of course we all eat strawberries year around now, but there is nothing better than fresh, local fruit in season.

I made this delicious baked oatmeal with some of the Farmer’s Market strawberries I bought and it was full of flavor.  Making baked oatmeal of any variety is a favorite of mine because it’s quick and easy to put together as well as refrigerating well for multiple days of a delicious breakfast.  Just pop a piece in the microwave and it tastes like it is just out of the oven.

The recipe can be found here and also, by entering “baked oatmeal” in my search box, you will find many other baked oatmeal recipes in many flavors.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Keep Moving

 



Yoga is kind of a passion of mine, but when lock downs started, I let myself get out of the habit of practicing on a regular basis.  Then, when things did open up and there were at least beach yoga classes to attend, I hurt my knee and have been afraid to injure it more.

Well, I am paying for that now.  By not stretching and moving, I have made everything much worse.  I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with pain from IT band tightness.  This can cause pain and irritation in the hip or knee.  I was told to do IT band stretches and apply ice before follow up with an orthopedic doctor if necessary. Yoga is perfect for stretching the hip, so that is what I have been doing; both regular longer practices and ten minute stretches targeted to the IT Band.  I am choosing to practice at home with an app I really like (Down Dog) as well as You Tube.  Until I am able to move my knee a bit better again, that is what feels the most comfortable and I have a pretty good view if I set up my mat poolside.

All this said, the point of this post is advise from a fit mid life women who stopped moving (besides walking) for too long.  It showed me how important it is to stretch and stay strong and flexible.  I want to be active for a long time and it is a slippery slope to aches and pains if you don’t persevere.  My back also paid the price of not stretching and I have been a regular at my massage place.

The good news is that after two weeks of consistent yoga, I already see improvement.  

Namaste my friends.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Winter Reading List

 

I sound like a Floridian when I say that it has been a chilly winter here with temperatures hovering around 60.  When you are used to the 80’s it’s a big change.  So, as I wrap up in a blanket, (don’t laugh) waiting  to get back in the pool, I have been refining and adding to my reading list.  It’s been a bit sparse for a while, but it looks like February will be a big publishing month at least with the authors I tend to read.


These four books are all by authors I have read before and like.  The Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths is a favorite, but she has also been branching out with an additional series (Brighton Mysteries) and another stand alone title  (The Stranger Diaries) that I have enjoyed. 



Three mysteries have caught my eye or been recommended to me and I have high hopes for all of them.  Two are set in Victorian England and seem quite interesting and different.

Finally, there are a couple of non fiction as well as one fiction, but based on a true story, that I look forward to reading.  If you read this blog regularly, you know I am an Outlander fan and the book by Sam and Graham (Jamie and Dougal) looks delightful and will be an immersion and escape into Scottish life.






Happy Reading!


Sunday, January 10, 2021

January So Far

 

The world has gone a bit crazy and that makes me crave normal everyday life and what I can control.  Here is what is going on in my world so far in January.





Hoping that the vaccine roll out continues to expand and everyone who wants it gets it in a timely fashion. Patience is required in Florida, because anyone 65 and older can sign up, but there are a lot in that age group here and the appointments fill up fast.  I just saw that I will be in the next round (maybe by the end of February) since I am under 65, but am diabetic.  Hope is powerful and necessary in this new year.

 Busy volunteering and generally getting back into a routine, which I like.  My various “jobs” include working with a city beautification/clean up/gardening group on Thursday mornings, an appointment to a new park study commission for the city government, stepping up to run my Tuesday golf league and continuing as Beautification Chair for my neighborhood.  This past Thursday morning I helped take down and pack away the decorations on the city Christmas tree.  

 Exercising as much as I can, but unfortunately have something going on with my knee that is keeping me from yoga. I miss it so much that I may try to go this week and just be careful.  Also, walking on the beach keeps be grounded.  There is nothing like that surf sound, the sun and the gulf breezes to chase away a bad day.

 Reading a lot, but rarely find a book I love at the moment.  I did recommend one on Instagram the other day that was very good.  Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins.  One of those slightly creepy, edge of your seat books you don’t want to stop reading until you figure out what is going on.

 Entertaining in these times is tricky, but we do get together in our  homes for small gatherings or dinner parties from time to time.   I hosted two couples for dinner Friday night and thoroughly enjoyed setting the table and cooking some good food.  I know we had a good time by the amount of wine and martini glasses I and hand washed the next morning.

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Top 3 Recipes 2020

 

This is always a fun way to look back on the blog and see what was happening in 2020 based on what I was cooking or baking.  I think it is safe to say that we all cooked a lot more in this quarantine year.  One of the top three recipes is even from a series that I started during the height of the stay at home order encouraging you all to cook one of my tried and true recipes together.  From everyone making banana bread, to trying new recipes to give a little excitement to always eating at home, 2020 was the year of feeding and nurturing your family and keeping things delicious in the kitchen.  Here are the three recipes on my blog from 2020 with most views.  If you made them, I hope you enjoyed. And, Happy 2021!

1. Banana Bread in a Mug

2. Baked French Toast with Streusel Topping

3. Egg Roll in a Bowl 






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Michigan ➡️ Florida
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