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


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 :-)

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Tomato Jam

There is a phrase going around instagram called “girl dinner”. It means not cooking a traditional meal, but just putting something light and snacky together in the evening like cheese and crackers and some fruit. More and more, that is how I like to eat dinner and luckily my husband does too.  

When I saw this recipe for Tomato Jam, I decided to try it as a yummy “girl dinner” idea.  It was really easy to make and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.  My idea was to take a toasted baguette, spread it with a soft cheese and finally the tomato jam on the top. 

It was the perfect little bite.  Flavorful, slightly spicy and also with a crunch factor from the toasted bread.  It is a perfect pairing with a glass of wine too.  Savory jam was not on my radar, but this recipe has me wanting to scroll Pinterest for more ideas.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, August 7, 2023

A Pink Baby Shower


My daughter Melissa and I hosted a baby shower for my oldest daughter Megan this weekend and it was a special day for all of us.  

We wanted a small, intimate family shower and achieved that by putting up a tent in Melissa’s pretty backyard.  We brought in details like pretty dishes, pink striped linens, pink poufs hanging from the tent roof and colorful florals.  Menu cards listed our catered menu of Caesar salad, Chicken Picatta and mini Strawberry Shortcakes.  We also served pink sangria in a pretty beverage container, along with lemon water and assorted wine.  The weather was a little damp at times, but we were cozy and dry under the tent.

Megan was showered with so many cute pink gifts, as well as all the practical things you need for a first baby. We had asked the guests to bring bows in lieu of cards and sweet baby girl will definitely have a bow for every occasion. The love for her and baby girl was evident all afternoon.

Melissa is excited to be an Auntie and I am over the moon to be a Nana.  This was our way of showing Megan that we can’t wait for baby girl to join our family.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

How to Make Box Banana Bread Mix Better


I love to take simple ingredients or a simple recipe and add a little something to make it better.  I have been doing this with boxed bread mixes for years and it makes them taste fresh and delicious.  It’s really just a dump and bake recipe with the only real effort required is cracking eggs and measuring oil and water.  It’s a great use of a mashed overripe banana too.  

This time I added fresh blueberries, but you could use frozen as well.  You could also add chocolate chips instead of fruit or chopped nuts, like pecans or walnuts.  

Anytime you take something in a box and add freshness, it is a win, plus you haven’t spent very much time at all in the kitchen.

Box Bread Mix Made Better

1 box banana bread mix

1 cup water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 mashed overripe banana

1 1/2 cups blueberries, folded in last (coat with flour to keep from sinking)

Mix all ingredients together except for blueberries.  Fold the blueberries in gently.  Pour into loaf  pan (or 3 small loaf pans) sprayed generously with baking spray. Bake 45-55 minutes at 375 degrees.  Test for doneness with a toothpick. Cool slightly and remove from pan.


Tuesday, July 18, 2023

What I Am Watching - Outlander


I have a love, hate relationship with the Outlander television series.  For the most part, I love seeing the books I have read over and over come to life.  The scenery, the costumes and the actors in the roles are pretty much perfect.  The problem comes for me in the deviation from the books.  I am not a script writer, but it seems the changes, especially when it comes to characterization, change the story too much and have me mumbling at the tv while watching.

Many times though, they do get it right and so far, this season (season 7) has me enthralled.  The writers have done a masterful job in moving the story forward, introducing new and important characters and staying true to the books.  If you know the story, there are even seamless transitions between 1981 and 1776.  The use of the letters written in the past and saved for 200 years for Bree and Roger in the future keep the family connected and make history and the American Revolution come alive.

I was talking to my sister about the current season and we both agree there is an emotional component that shines through and has been missing in some of the previous seasons.  I find the episodes fly by and I am enthralled and even moved to tears at times.  We both also agreed that based on the season so far, we have hope that the rest of this season and the final season 8 will include all the great moments in the books and finish things with us not wanting it to end.  

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Crushed Pineapple Muffins


Not only because I live in Florida, but tropical flavors are my favorite.  Give me all the key lime, mango and pineapple in food, desserts and cocktails and I am happy.  At my favorite restaurant in Key West, I always order the pineapple pancakes and these are very similar.

These muffins are very easy and quick to make in the morning and perfect for a summer weekend breakfast treat.  You could add all kinds of extras like banana, coconut and nuts to give them a little texture, but I kept it simple this time.  

Serve with fresh tropical fruit for a cheerful breakfast that will make you feel like you are on vacation.

Recipe here

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Birthday and July 4th


I have always thought it pretty fun to have a birthday during a holiday weekend and this year, we kicked off 4th of July weekend with a fun Friday night including champagne on a balcony overlooking Sarasota Bay, birthday balloons, dinner and a birthday dessert at a lovely Italian restaurant in downtown Sarasota.

With a couple neighbors (friends), we do a regular dinner club where we trade houses, plus go out on a loose rotation.  Since the various schedules happened to fall open on my birthday; lucky me.  I felt really loved the whole night and it is always a treat to try new places in downtown Sarasota.  It’s fun to get away from our beachy vibe, dress up a bit and wander the sidewalks of a beautiful, vibrant main street.  

Our tradition on the 4th of July is low key lately after many years of lake days with big groups.  We swam a bit, barbecued burgers and I made my traditional Mom ‘s Macaroni Salad.  We ended the night on the beach, where the gulf breeze felt great as we waited for sunset, dark and the beautiful fireworks.  What a great way to end a long birthday weekend with fireworks over the Gulf of Mexico.  After all the turmoil in bigger cities this past year, I was feeling especially patriotic and thankful  to see that small town America is holding on to what America means.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Busy in Michigan


My daughter and son in law moved from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Grand Rapids, Michigan last weekend and I arrived on Monday to help with the unpacking.  Since Megan is expecting, it was the least I could do. We have accomplished quite a bit, including unpacking and organizing the kitchen.  It is a beautiful kitchen with a lot of cupboard space, so that was mostly fun. We also organized closets, I planted some flower pots and cooked a few meals for the freezer. They still have a lot to do, but the unpacking is mostly done.

It wasn’t all work, with Megan showing me their lovely new area with cute coffee shops and a fun Farmer‘s Market.  Daughter number two, who lives a two hour drive away in the Detroit area also made the trip to see the new house and me.  It makes me happy that they are now in the same state and can see each other often.  Especially with the baby girl coming in the fall.

I’m heading back to Florida with a happy heart.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Top Books Read So Far in 2023


We are halfway through the reading year and my reading has stepped up lately.  The only television I am watching currently is the new season of Outlander, major golf tournaments and Tigers baseball.  There are shows on my to watch list, but I find myself preferring to read.  When it is so hot outside, my way to feel cool in the afternoon (besides pool time) is to be in the air conditioning, close the blinds, have a fan blowing on me, use a light blanket and read.

 I have read 46 books so far this year, but luckily for my bank account, the majority are borrowed from the library.  Of that 46, I have been reading my way through the Sue Grafton “alphabet” series featuring private detective Kinsey Millhone.  First published in 1982 and set in the 1980’s throughout the series, it is amazing how well a revisit holds up. The lack of cell phones and laptop computers is a little jarring and a reminder how much more difficult it was to communicate when you had to find a pay phone to make a call away from home. Or go to the library to do research rather than trusty google.  Kinsey is a great all time fictional women detective.

My favorites so far are in no particular order and linked to Amazon.  



Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Chocolate Topped Frozen Yogurt Cup (Tik Tok Recipe #3)


This is the perfect summer snack and it is so easy, In fact, I hesitate to actually call it a recipe.  The Tik Tok buzz found me intrigued again and I had to try this simple method to jazz up a yogurt cup.

I have been looking for ways to add protein to my diet, not being a fan of protein powder, so when the cottage cheese pancakes I tried were a fail, adding a bit of chocolate to the yogurt always stocked in my fridge seemed too delicious not to try.

Here is what you do and there are a few variations.

Take a container of yogurt, any flavor and pour 2 -3 T of melted good quality dark chocolate (melt in glass measuring cup in microwave for 1 minute) over the top.  Sprinkle with chopped nuts, cover with foil and freeze until chocolate is hard.  Use a spoon to break the hard shell of the chocolate and enjoy!

I used key lime yogurt, but for other flavors you can stir in 1 T of peanut butter to the yogurt before adding the chocolate.  Toppings could be any kind of nut, frozen raspberries or even small candies like m&m’s.  

My version with key lime yogurt took me right back to Key West and the chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick that I enjoyed when there.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, June 9, 2023

Nana Time



I have been keeping keeping a secret, but my daughter has now shared on social media, so I feel comfortable sharing too.  In October, Megan and Adam will be bringing home a sweet little girl and we are all very excited and thankful.

We are in the midst of planning a baby shower and I have to control myself from buying all the things; especially the pink ones.  I notice playgrounds in my city that I never really noticed before.  Life for our family will change in a big way and I can’t wait to do all the girly things I enjoyed so much with my daughters. 

When we moved to Florida and finally did the big downsize, I got rid of many of the toys that had been saved in my basement.  What I did keep in the hopes for a future grandchild was a well used tea set that my daughters and I had so much fun with over the years.  We would spread a blanket on the floor and have tea party picnics, complete with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut in fun shapes and pink lemonade.  

I have never been one to push for a grandchild or felt lacking in my life, but now that Nana time is close, I am so looking forward to all those sweet and special times a little one brings to a family.  

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Master Bedroom Refresh (Florida Home)


My master bedroom was in need of a refresh after six years in my new Florida home.  I didn’t dislike the room, but just wanted to bring the metal elements together after the addition of a pretty large barn door and its black hardware.  

By adding more modern black knobs to my perfectly fine dressers, the look was totally changed and updated. The white ceiling fan was also changed for a black, three blade, up to date style and the curtain hardware was easily changed from silver to black with a can of spray paint.

The biggest expense was a new black, taller and sleek iron headboard to replace the dated silver one with its more traditional elements.

The new quilt kept the same coastal blue and green colors and the space overall kept its cool, calming feel, but with a modern twist.  When you are happy with a room, but it has become dated in certain areas, small changes, without spending a lot of money, can make the decor fresh and new again. 

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, May 26, 2023

6 Years as a Floridian


It has been six years today since we closed on our Florida home and it has been a very good six years in the Sunshine State.  

When you make a big decision, you really never know how things will work out.  Our roots were deep in Michigan, but because we had moved quite a bit before settling down for the school age years of our girls, moving was not really scary to me.  I knew the outdoor lifestyle would be everything we wanted and help keep us young.

Leaving friends, family and especially Melissa who still lives in Michigan was hard of course, but looking back, I think we have done a good job of creating times together.  I do not hesitate to jump on a plane and will continue to do so.

Florida during the covid years was a different experience than living in Michigan and I am thankful for that.  Being able to experience fresh air and sunshine made a hard situation more tolerable.  

After six years, we are established with roots, friends and many new experiences, including two major hurricanes.  The good always has to come with the not so good, but I really do not have any regrets and look forward to many more years in our own little paradise.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Michigan ➡️ Florida
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