Friday, December 29, 2023

Happy Christmas

 


We flew home from Michigan today and it is good to be back in the sunshine.  The weather was gloomy and drizzling there and there definitely wasn’t a white Christmas this year, but it did not put a damper on the fun we had.

Of course the highlight for all of us was our precious granddaughter’s first Christmas.  She is starting to react and play a bit and we couldn’t get enough of her.  It was sad to leave, but Megan is good about sending photos and videos, so that makes it a bit easier.

Some of the highlights included Christmas celebrations with both sides of our family, Audrey meeting her great grandmother, a fun and relaxing two days at our daughter’s house that included Audrey’s first outing to a sculpture garden and even a brewery, where she was the perfect baby for her momma. Last but not least, we ended the trip with an overdue engagement celebration for Melissa and Kevin that included his parents and a toast to their July wedding.

I love family time and I especially love family time when it involves staying in, cooking, playing cards and a lot of catching up.  Christmas 2023 is in the books and I couldn’t be happier.













Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Spicy Strawberry Balsamic Jam

 

I am hosting a pre dinner happy hour on Thursday and decided to make this recipe as one of the appetizers I am preparing.  I love a sweet and spicy combination and thought it also would look really pretty and festive on a platter with some rosemary as garnish.  

Even though I am not making a lot of appetizers since we are here for a short time, it makes my day of prep easier since this could be made in advance.  Making a small batch jam like this couldn’t be easier and I did other things while it cooked, just remembering to stir it now and then by setting a timer.  After it cooled, I placed it in a freezer jam jar and in that kind of container, it will be good for several months.

A sneaky taste was required to see how spicy it was and I am happy to say it has a kick, but nothing crazy.  It is the perfect little bite and will go great with the Prosecco I am serving.  To serve, spoon over a block of cream cheese and pair with a good quality, crunchy cracker or a toasted baguette slice.

Happy holiday entertaining!




Saturday, December 9, 2023

Lights In Bloom

 

Last night, on a beautiful 72 degree evening in Florida, we attended Lights in Bloom at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota.  It is a magical event and location with the gulf breezes and multicolored lights creating a tropical holiday vibe.  The many pathways are lit with millions of lights and displays to walk through at your own pace.  To keep the botanical theme, there were many butterflies, flowers and even pink flamingos.  

Every holiday season we try to go to some kind of light display to get into the holiday spirit and this one was quintessentially Florida.  There is something quite nice after shivering for many years at light displays and other holiday events in Michigan to enjoy holiday lights in perfect temperatures. Not necessarily traditional Christmas as we know it, but it suits where we live now very well.  

Happy tropical Christmas to all!











Sunday, November 26, 2023

Thanksgiving Holiday in Photos

 

We are back home in Florida after a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday in Michigan.  It was filled with friends and family time, walks, lots of shared cooking time, football (and MSU basketball) and of course baby cuddles. The turkey, stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes (plus sides) for eight all turned out delicious,  Melissa was on pumpkin pie duty for the first time and her pies and homemade whipped cream were so good, we nominated her for a lifetime job.  

It was a long travel day yesterday, but happy we went and equally happy to be home.  Now, let Christmas festivities begin!









Monday, November 20, 2023

Lead up to Thanksgiving

 

We have been having fun in Michigan during the lead up to Thanksgiving.  Today, we will be traveling again to see Audrey who just turned one month old.  Nana and Pops will be reporting for duty (plus cooking Thanksgiving dinner too)

So far, we had a fun night in with pizza and basketball with Melissa and her fiancĂ©, attended a good friend’s daughter’s wedding and made it to East Lansing for more MSU basketball fun.  It was a beautiful late fall day, bringing back memories of being on campus when the trees were colorful and the air was crisp and clear.  It will always be one of my favorite times and my favorite place.

Our Thanksgiving is all planned with a spreadsheet of who is making or bringing what.  Melissa and her fiancĂ© will travel from the east side of the state to the west side and our family will have a few days all together.  With the new baby.  Can you tell I am excited?

Happy Thanksgiving to all!






Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Cannoli Poke Cake

 


Just in time for Thanksgiving, this easy and delicious cake will be a great addition to any dessert table.  If you are like me, I love pumpkin pie, but also like to add something for the chocolate lovers in every family.

I made this cake for a dinner party recently and it was given rave reviews.  The recipe can be made ahead of time and only gets better the longer it sits in your refrigerator.  It is recommended to make 3 hours before serving, but based on how the leftover piece I had tasted, longer is better for blending the flavors.  The star is the ricotta and mascarpone frosting that gives the cannoli flavor to this cake.  And, the chocolate chips are a cannoli classic touch.

It’s a dessert that will have you giving out the recipe and thinking about the next time you can make it yourself.

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

She Said Yes To The Dress





 

This was my view yesterday as I went bridal dress shopping in Sarasota with Melissa.  It all worked out perfectly when after her engagement, she found a bridal shop here in Florida and made an appointment during her work trip this week.  Because the wedding will be in July 2024, the dress needed to be ordered promptly to avoid rush fees and this particular bridal salon does a big business with out of state brides, so that was not an issue.

We didn’t really plan to buy a dress and had other appointments booked in Michigan during my Thanksgiving trip.  But, when you find the perfect dress and the bride to be, the mother of the bride and her sister and matron of honor on FaceTime all are moved to tears when the veil goes on, you don’t have second thoughts.

The process is so interesting and special to be a part of as you work with the consultant to find just the look the bride wants.  You definitely narrow things down quickly and we had a good consultant that listened to what parts of each dress we liked or did not like.  She kept us in budget and found solutions to pretty much customize the wedding gown of Melissa’s dreams.  

This is my second time as mother of the bride, but as my two daughters are different, so will be their weddings; each a new experience and uniquely special.

No sneak peeks of the dress, but be assured there will be plenty of photos to come.





Monday, October 30, 2023

Halloween Martini - Salted Caramel Apple Martini

 



It wouldn’t be adult Halloween for me, without a festive cocktail to sip on while handing out candy.  I will list the links to some of the fun drinks I have made in past years, but this year I have hit on a good one.

It is a Salted Caramel Apple Martini and it is delicious.  All the flavors are represented in each sip with sweetness, saltiness and especially the sour apple flavor.  It was easy to make and luckily I had everything in my liquor stash.  I think it looks especially pretty in a retro coupe martini glass too.  

Happy Halloween and enjoy!

To make one drink:

Put caramel sauce on a plate and roll rim of martini glass until edge is covered. In another plate, add sea salt and dip glass with caramel rim until covered with the salt.

To a martini shaker add ice, 2 ounces lemon vodka, 2 ounces Apple Pucker liquor and a squeeze of a lemon. Shake and pour in prepared glass.


Halloween Cocktails through the years:

All The Boos 2021

Red Wine Ice Cream Float 2020

Pumpkin Spice White Russian 2018

Apple Cider and Buttershot Cocktail 2013

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Welcome to the World Audrey Christine

 


Our first grandchild, Audrey Christine was born in Michigan on October 15th.  She is a petite little one and so, so sweet.

It has been just over a week since her birth and we are back in Florida, but I remain thankful that we were able to share in the joy of her arrival.  I will never forget my first look at her when I walked into the hospital room.  Just hours old, but perfect and so pretty sleeping in her bassinet.  Definitely love at first sight.

During the week, I did a lot of cooking in between holding her whenever I could.  It was hard to leave, but we go back in a month and then again at Christmas, so a lot of cuddles to look forward to.  The last night we were there, our little family of six had dinner together and celebrated the addition of the newest tiny member, making us officially a family of seven.  

Friday, October 6, 2023

October So Far

 

We are still on baby watch and ready to travel when we get the call, but also staying busy as we wait.  October is my favorite month in Florida and this weekend we are finally being rewarded with some cooler weather.  It’s time to open the door wall to the lanai and enjoy indoor/outdoor living.

Golf is lovely this time of year, with a welcome breeze and great conditions from the rainy season.  One morning this week, I golfed first thing with some neighborhood friends and I even wore a jacket for a bit. I’m looking forward to getting the ladies golf group I run back together for weekly golf at the end of the month.

My book club is starting back up after the summer off and the first book we are reading is Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.  It is my kind of book - smart writing, unique and quirky.  Great characters too.  It reminded me a bit of Where Did You Go Bernadette which is on my all time favorites list.

Wedding planning is moving right along and I am along for the ride with the bride who is a wedding planner.  I am very excited about the choices she is making and think it will all be beautiful. She booked an appointment at a bridal shop in Sarasota and also an appointment when I will be in Michigan, so ordering the bridal gown will be happening very soon.

Finally, I made a delicious and different sweet treat with some leftover pumpkin puree and if you love pumpkin pie, this is a great crustless alternative.

Pumpkin Crisp 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 eggs, 1 c sugar, 1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree, 2/3 c heavy cream,  3 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 2 tsp vanilla and pinch of salt.  Pour into prepared  baking dish.

3.  In a food processor, pulse 1 1/2 c brown sugar and 1 1/2 c flour.  Scatter 1/2 cup cold butter, chopped into small pieces on the top, then pulse until crumbly.  

4. Sprinkle crumble mix on top of pumpkin mixture.  Add chopped pecans on top of crumble mix, if desired.

5.  Bake 40- 45 minutes until set and top is lightly browned.

Enjoy!







Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Baby Watch



At the moment, I am trying to keep my calendar open and be prepared to drop everything, pack quickly and travel to Michigan for the birth of my first grandchild.  We plan to drive since the timing is unknown and it is still hurricane season which can make airline reservations stressful.  It will take us about a day and a half to arrive, with a one night stop on the way, so while we won’t make it for a hospital visit, we will be there pretty quick.  I am ok not getting to the hospital and leaving that time for parents and baby.

Becoming a grandmother and watching your daughter become a mother is an interesting and emotional experience and I plan to take things as they come.  I also plan to let her lead the way in how much help she wants.  We have discussed this a lot and I think it is best to give her time after the birth to see how it all feels with a newborn in the house.  We are open to anything, even staying at a hotel if that is easier on all.

But, the main thing is getting a chance to hold that sweet girl and start a loving and life long relationship.  I plan to soak it all in and never forget this special time for our family.


 


Friday, September 15, 2023

Disney World Day Trip

 

For my husbands’s birthday, we decided to take a day trip to Disney World with one day at Magic Kingdom and a one night stay.  Orlando is a two hour drive for us (though traffic on 1-4 is usually pretty bad) so it is easily doable to leave in the morning and be at the park when it opens.  The day we were there, the park closed at 6, because of the nightly Halloween Party, but we found it was plenty of time.

We have not been there since we moved to Florida and have not been as adults without children in a very long time.  It definitely is a different experience and skipping a lot of the children’s rides, plus the character interactions gives you a pretty easy day.  The system where you can book ride times (costs extra) worked really well for us too.  We managed to ride 3 of the more popular rides within the first hour by utilizing this system, plus standing in a short line when the park opened.

I highly recommend a random Tuesday in September when kids are back to school, because wait times were generally short if we didn’t have a reservation (lightening lane) and overall the park was not crowded.  We were even able to ride the 2 mine rides twice.  

Since we were out of the park by 6, to keep the Disney vibe going, I made dinner reservations at Disney Springs.  We had been there last summer and found it to be a great spot for lunch or dinner.  We tried Raglan Road, an Irish pub that everyone raves about.  It lived up to the hype; great food and a fun atmosphere with Irish dancers and singers.  

We are not necessarily Disney people and probably won’t go back until it’s time to take grand children, but it was a fun getaway and a nice perk of living in Florida.








Monday, September 11, 2023

Engaged!


I will be putting on my Mother of the Bride hat again, because Melissa and Kevin are engaged.  We have known for awhile that it was coming, because he traveled to Florida to ask for her hand (he’s a good guy), but he was able to surprise her on Friday in a beautiful old part of Detroit and she is over the moon happy.

Since Melissa owns her own event and wedding planning business, this will be a totally different planning process.  I don’t anticipate doing a lot of the actual planning, just the fun parts.  It will be interesting to see how the wedding planner, plans her own wedding!

As usual, I will take all of you along for the ride.  It has been a happy year for our family.  One month (or less) until the sweet girl is born and now a wedding to look forward to.







Thursday, August 31, 2023

Hurricane Aftermath

 


Just a quick post on my thoughts on going through another hurricane.  First, we were lucky that it remained more like a tropical storm for us here in Southwest Florida and did not make a turn. But, the storm surge was pretty significant for the coastal areas with some roads washed out and street flooding.  I was worried about one of our favorite areas - St. Armands Circle, but to my amazement they just posted the waters have receded and all will be open at noon.  That is the thing about Florida.  Hurricane prep and hurricane clean up are second nature, efficient and quick.  Obviously it’s not as simple for other parts of the state, but still things are getting done.  The bridges are open to all the barrier islands, power has been restored to hundreds of thousands and help from first responders is there.  We are lucky to have a leader like Governor DeSantis and he is truly amazing during these stressful times.

Monday, August 28, 2023

In August

 

August is a month that is flying by and here are some of the things I did, as well as how the month is finishing up.

The biggest thing was my trip to Michigan at the beginning of the month.  I wrote a blog post about the baby shower I helped host for my daughter, but didn’t mention all the other things I did on what was a whirlwind of a week.  I was able to meet up some good friends for breakfasts, lunches and dinners.  Melissa and her boyfriend took me to a really great new restaurant in downtown Detroit and we were able to celebrate Melissa’s 30th birthday with a family dinner on a beautiful Michigan night.

The middle of the month was quiet and relaxing, but I did oversee the planting of 23 trees in my neighborhood which was a big job.  As landscape chair for my HOA, the recovery from Hurricane Ian has been challenging and is ongoing, even many months later.

Speaking of hurricanes, we are preparing for Idalia, which will hit somewhere on my side of the gulf coast Tuesday and Wednesday. At this time, it looks to be going north of us, but change in direction is possible, so we are under a hurricane watch.  Hopefully for us, we will only have to worry about the outer bands with rain and some wind.  It’s not a hurricane shutter event, but we may be securing anything that could fly around. We will know by Tuesday.  I know there are blog friends in hurricane states that totally get the uncertainty.

Finally, Megan had another baby shower on Saturday and I was sad I couldn’t be there.  I love living in Florida, but part of that means you can’t do everything.  It’s these bigger life events that are the hardest to miss, but I do my best and will continue to go back as much as possible.  The next trip will be for baby girl’s birth in October.  

Happy Monday and send Florida all your good thoughts as we start hurricane season once again. And I will try not to stress about the constantly updating forecast models and maps and the ever changing path :-)










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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