Thursday, December 29, 2022

A White Christmas


We are back in Florida after a frigid and snowy visit to Michigan for Christmas, but as always the family fun made it all worthwhile.  Our travel was relatively smooth, considering all the chaos, but I think we managed to get out of Florida, just in front of the worst of the cancellations.  And did not fly Southwest, thank goodness.  

The house we rented for a second time was cozy and close to my daughter’s home.  We braved the snow and cold like true Michiganders (even though our Florida bones were not used to it) and had several lovely holiday dinners and brunches, attended Christmas morning mass at a beautiful old church, exchanged many gifts and enjoyed festive drinks.  

Our annual night of fun, the day after Christmas had 18 of us at a bowling alley with fierce team competition happening.  We all remarked how lucky we are that all the parents and the young adult children still love to get together.  

It’s difficult not having our own home to host Christmas celebrations during the holidays, but we have learned each year how to make a rented house feel special and to make the most of our Christmas visit.  For us, the holidays will always be about snowy Michigan and fun family time. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix


Even in Florida, a nice cup of cocoa tastes great now and then.  Here is my dilemma - Keurig hot cocoa cups have too much sugar and taste way too sweet and making cocoa the traditional way with chocolate syrup is also full of sugar.  I wanted to find a solution where I could control the amount of sugar and chocolate flavor. Looking through Pinterest, I decided to try the 4 Ingredient Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix that I could scoop into a mug and utilize the hot water feature on my Keurig.

It is easy to put together, easy to prepare and individual cup and exactly the flavor I was looking for.  I like to use my frother as a last step for really foamy cocoa too.  Also, one of my favorite things to do during the holidays is to add a shot of peppermint flavored vodka for a fun seasonal adult style hot drink.

This recipe is really easy to adjust too,  Either add more or less cocoa powder  or sugar depending on your taste.


Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Life Lately

Well, it’s been busier than I like, but all fun things, so I can’t really complain.  And, it’s the same for everyone this time of year; shopping, wrapping, organizing, entertaining and fun holiday events leading up to Christmas.  Once I ship my gifts today, the pace can be a little slower.  We have a fun night of dinner at a favorite restaurant and spectacular Christmas lights in Sarasota planned for Saturday and then the countdown to family begins.  As usual, we have a full itinerary of family events Christmas weekend (and after), but I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

Photos along the way include a golf luncheon planned by me, Christmas shopping with blue sky and palm trees and a dinner party at my house with good friends - any excuse to use all my pretty Christmas dishes and glassware.


At the dinner party I served an old favorite martini and I forgot how festive it looks and it is delicious too.  I used to hand it to people when they walked in the door on Christmas night. It brings the Christmas spirit - give it a try :-)

Candy Cane Martini

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Decembering - Florida Style


It really hits that Christmas is so close when December 1st shows up on the calendar.  And, this year I feel ahead of the game, so I can enjoy the festivities.  Coming up in our Florida style Christmas is a boat parade on the Intercoastal and a Christmas lighted bike and golf cart parade in my neighborhood.  I am also planning a luncheon before golf with my neighborhood golf group.  Plus, many other opportunities for Christmas cocktails, including beach happy hours.  

My decorations are up and each year I add a bit more colorful Florida style.  Starfish are technically stars right!? I have very little shopping to do - just one quick trip to the mall and a few stocking stuffers.  I will wrap and ship no later than the 15th, so that piece will be off my mind too. Even my Christmas cards are ordered and all they need are address labels.

I wondered when we moved to Florida how easy it would be to get into the holiday spirit without snow.  It’s different, but also colorful and fun.  Palm trees with Christmas lights are my favorite.

Happy December!

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Thanksgiving Weekend in Photos


We were blessed with beautiful weather over Thanksgiving weekend which made for a lovely visit from my daughter Melissa, her boyfriend and their puppy Winston.  We spent a lot of time poolside, ate delicious food, drank yummy cocktails in St. Armands Circle, did a little boating and watched a lot of MSU football and basketball.  We ventured to the Jetty and watched the boats with coffee and sunshine too.  

More importantly, my husband and I celebrated our 40th anniversary on Saturday.  From East Lansing and MSU where we met freshman year to our life in beautiful Florida with stops in Texas, Tennessee, New Jersey and our home state of Michigan twice, it’s been an adventure.  Melissa asked about the best parts and when you look at 40 years of marriage, I am lucky to say there are too many to name just a few.

We missed Megan and Adam, but Christmas comes soon and it will be family time again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Remembering How to Make a Pie Crust


I grew up in the typical Midwestern small town where making your own pies was the norm.  I never saw my mother buy a pie from the store or use a frozen pie crust.  Making a pie crust was simple with the right recipe. Somewhere over the years, I lost the desire and definitely did not take the time to bake pies from scratch. Even when I hosted Thanksgiving for a crowd, pies were something I asked others to bring.

But, this Thanksgiving,  I decided to dust off my apron and my baking skills and make a pumpkin pie the old fashioned way.  I found a very simple pie crust recipe using, flour, salt, butter flavored crisco and water.  The dough came together like a charm and how to roll the crust and crimp the edges all came back to me.  

I was covered in flour from head to toe, my kitchen as well, but it was like my mother was standing next to me cheering me on.  Yes, buying a pie is easier, but there is something to be said for family traditions and taking the time to remember that.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The recipe I used:

Penny’s Perfect Pie Crust

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Wedding Weekend in Virginia


Our niece was married this past Saturday in Manassas, Virginia and we flew in Friday looking forward to a fun family weekend.  It was a quick trip, but spent great quality time with our daughters, so that is always a bonus of family weddings.

We had time to relax before the wedding with a welcome party on Friday and free time during the day on Saturday.  We found a lovely spot for brunch and Bloody Marys (Founding Farmer’s) followed by a visit to The Winery at Bull Run where we sat at a picnic table on the grounds and enjoyed a beautiful late fall afternoon.

The wedding was at a very nice, rural venue that mixed rustic with crystal chandeliers and suited the couple very well.  There was delicious food and the dance floor was full all night with a good amount of Latin music for the groom and his family who traveled from Puerto Rico. 

We all stayed an extra day to go into DC and walk the National Mall. Having been several times, it is still such a great experience and even though it had turned cold and windy, the bright blue sky was a perfect backdrop for the monuments.  I had not seen the WWII monument and it is so well done.  

As always, it is hard to say goodbye, but the holidays are coming fast and we will all be together then.  Family time, no matter the occasion, is always the best time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Quick Pumpkin Butter Recipe


I made a small batch of this pumpkin butter this morning and it is delicious.  So quick and easy too.  The added bonus is the scent while cooking is better than any fall candle you can buy!

Using up 1/2 can of pumpkin puree that was in my refrigerator, I added 1/8 cup of maple syrup, 1/8 cup water, 2 tsp Truvia for baking,  1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ginger, 1/8 tsp cloves and 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice.  For a full can of pumpkin puree, double all ingredients.

In a small saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.  Cool and place in an air tight container to store in the refrigerator.

I use on english muffins, toast or my favorite, swirl a bit into oatmeal.

Another storm coming for Florida so, getting cozy inside these next few days.  Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Late Fall Reading List


All of a sudden, my saved reading list on Amazon is full.  There are always books saved by favorite authors to be read in the future months, but sometimes not so many for right now.  I was really happy to find quite a few that appealed to me when I was searching for new releases.  I also appreciate all of you recommending books you have read.  We all have different reading tastes, but I have learned many of you do like the same books as I do.

The Barbara Kingsolver, Susan Elia MacNeal, Jodi Picoult all have great reviews, so I am willing to give them a try.  All three author’s last books were disappointing to me.  I haven’t been a Sally Hempworth fan, but this one sounded more my style.

Here is my late fall reading list and links to Amazon for Kindle.  Let me know if you read and enjoy.

Amazon Link

Monday, October 24, 2022

Apple Upside Down Cake


Apple Upside Down Cake

I have not moved on to pumpkin flavors yet, because October to me, is all about apples.  If I could find a way to get some freshly picked Michigan apples (specifically Empire) I would be happy, but for baking, the grocery store offerings are just fine.

This recipe is one of those that looks harder to make than it is.  It makes a really pretty presentation when you flip it over on the plate and I was happy to see that it came out easily and did not stick.  I followed the recipe exactly, except in addition to the cooking spray, I dusted the bundt pan lightly with flour, because that is what my mother and grandmother  taught me :)

As far as the flavor, it was so good.  The spice cake mix, the cider and the apples and brown sugar, all combine for fall on a plate.  It is quite moist too.  My husband and I won’t eat a big cake, so I plan to share with some neighbors.  

We have been experiencing lovely weather in Florida with blue skies and slightly cooler temperatures.  Enjoy your Monday and this last week of October.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

The Bay Sarasota


There is a new park in Sarasota and on the opening weekend, we decided to attend an evening concert there.  The music was an Eagles tribute band, so it seemed like a fun way to spend a Sunday night.  The weather is cooling down nicely too, so it’s time to take advantage of that and be outside.

We arrived a little early, set up our chairs at the stage and took a walk to explore the park.  There is a walking trail along Sarasota Bay, a shaded and elevated bridge through the mangroves, areas to sit in the sun with a water view, a playground and a kayak launch.  It’s dog friendly and I will bring mine next time for a morning stroll.

The concert was a good time with the crowd filling the grassy area, then spilling onto the parking lot and behind the stage right on the waterfront.  Of course in Florida, it tends to be an older demographic, but there was still a lot of dancing happening in front of the stage.  We kept to our chairs, but made a few trips to the food trucks for margaritas and beer.  It was an awesome venue, easy to get to and we will keep an eye out for other concerts. 


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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