I Don’t Fear Death

On Sunday’s I’m posting poetry written by my mother-in-law, Bettie Lou. Writing poetry was a form of therapy after losing her husband and then her youngest son in 1985.

I Don’t Fear Death

I don’t fear death.

I don’t fear hell.

If I go to sleep.

I will be well.


Florida’s National Parks

Looking for something to do this weekend? Take advantage of free park admission today and tomorrow and visit one of the nation’s 401 national parks as they celebrate National Park Week April 19th – April 27. IMG_4567 Florida is home to three national parks, two national seashores, two national preserves, three national monuments, and a national cultural heritage corridor. Even if you can’t take advantage of the free admission this weekend, the parks are a great value any day of the year.

  • Biscayne National Park
  • Dry Tortugus National Park
  • Everglades National Park
  • Canaveral National Seashore
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • Big Cypress National Preserve
  • Timucuan Preserve which includes Fort Caroline, a National Monument, and Kingsley Plantation
  • Castillo De San Marcos National Monument
  • Fort Matanzas National Monument
  • DeSoto National Memorial
  • Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor from Wilmington, NC to Jacksonville, FL

Yesterday we toured the Kingsley Plantation in Amelia Island exploring the plantation house, kitchen house, slave quarters, barn, and waterfront. The informative self guided tour took about an hour, but unfortunately, the plantation house can only be toured on the weekend due to renovations currently underway.

With our trip to Kingsley Plantation, we can say we’ve visited them all. Time to get started on the hundreds of battlefields, trails, and historical places located throughout the state.

Shrimp Recipes – Amelia Island Style

Waiting for my Tasty burger and milkshake to be delivered to the table, the cover of the April edition of Amelia Islander caught my eye. A shrimp dish pictured along with the words, “17th Annual Shrimp Festival Recipe Issue” deserved a look.

IMG_4447Inside, two dozen shrimp recipes from some of the local restaurants. Lemon Basil Shrimp Salad, Shrimp Pizza, Jamaican Jerk Shrimp with Mango and Plantains. Just a few of the recipes waiting to be tried.


The first weekend in May Amelia Island rolls out the red carpet for some 100,000 shrimp lovers attending the Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, a four day affair which kicks off with a Pirate Parade on Thursday evening and continues throughout the weekend with a Pirate Invasion, Shrimp Festival Run, fireworks, arts and crafts, a Shrimp Boat Parade and of course shrimp dishes sold by local churches and service organizations.

Since I won’t be in on the island for the festival, I’ll try one of the recipes at home without all the crowds.

Kelley’s Courtyard Cafe

Shrimp Pizza

  • 8 large shrimp, peeled, devined
  • 1 pita
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. barbecue sauce
  • 2 pepperoncini peppers, chopped
  • 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 strip bacon, cooked crispy, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning

Looks pretty simple: spread the barbecue sauce on the pita and other ingredients with the shrimp on top in a spiral pattern and sprinkled with the seasoning. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes.

While you can’t access all the recipes yet,  the April edition of Amelia Insider will soon be available online. In the meantime, you can check out the March edition here.



Top Ten Things About the Marion County Public Library

To celebrate National Library Week, I want to share the top ten reasons I appreciate the Marion County Public Library.

  • 10. Provide genealogy help centers.
  • 9. Access the online resources from the comfort of your home. Use the online catalog, reserve materials, and complete research by accessing one of the dozens of databases.
  • 8. freegal provides more than a million songs that can be added to your music library at the rate of three songs a week
  • 7. eAudio with One Click Digital
  • 6. Special events offered for children, teens, and adults. Check the here for the calendar.
  • 5. eBooks can be downloaded using Freading, Open Library, OverDrive and Project Gutenberg (more than a million titles)
  • 4. Collection contains more than 549, 000 volumes.
  • 3. Zinio lets you download over 100 electronic editions of popular magazines.
  • 2. Open 7 days a week.
  • 1. Best of all – it’s free!

And as a bonus, the building is decorated with mosaics illustrating the Dewey Decimal classifications as well as what makes Marion County special.

Not in Marion County? Make your own Top 10 List based on the resources available in your public library.

The Most Beautiful Libraries

I can’t possibly be the only person who likes to visit libraries while on vacation. Not only are libraries wonderful places to sit down and relax to get out of the heat or cold, they’re great places to find out what’s going on in the area. They provide free wifi and you can see some beautiful architecture.

Over the years, we stopped in the Denver Public Library so I could work while on vacation.


In Taos, we got out of the heat and used wifi at the Taos Public Library.


In New York City Public Library we marveled at the architecture and furnishings in the library where Claudia and Jamie researched Michelangelo in The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

nyc-public-libraryGenealogy drew us to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

family-history-library_1067502And we even go to the library on Sanibel Island. It’s the perfect place to read magazines and escape from the hottest part of the day or dodge a summer thunderstorm.

librarySo on National Library Week I’d like to share an article from the Huffington Post entitled 50 Most Beautiful Libraries in the World. Click here to see these amazing libraries and make a list of the ones you’d like to visit.


Tax Day Treats

For the past several weeks friends and family have talked about their plans for their tax refunds. Everyone seems to be trying to decide if they’ll buy clothes, something for the house, take a weekend trip, buy something “just for fun”, or maybe add to their savings.

My question…what refund? Are we the only family in the U.S. who writes a check to Uncle Sam on tax day?

Sure, we could have more withheld from our paychecks to avoid some of the April 15th pain, but we never get around to making a trip to personnel and filling out more forms so every year it’s the same. We watch everyone hurry to file their taxes, get a refund, and spend their windfall while we wait until the last minute to file and write a check to the U.S. Treasury.


So instead of making a purchase with a refund, maybe we can take advantage of some of the Tax Day Freebies offered by businesses this year.

  • Sonny’s VIP IRS (Irresistible Ribs Special) on Tax Day. Come in for half off a rib dinner plate dinner.
  • Arby’s Free Curly Fries on 4/15. Make sure you print a coupon at Arbys.com.
  • Free shredding from Office Depot. Again print a coupon for 5 pounds of free shredding. And you don’t have to rush out today to take advantage of this offer since it’s good through 4/29.
  • Schlotzsky’s free Tax Day sandwich. Buy a 32 oz. drink and a bag of chips and get a free sandwich! Of course, since I’d have to drive to Gainesville, this probably isn’t the best deal.
  • The 1040 Tax Day Deal Chicken Meal gives guests two half chicken individual meals for $10.40.
  • Free Chocolate Chip Cookies at Great American Cookies. Free Cookies for all!
  • Ace Hardware $10 off $40 purchase with online code TXDAY14
  • Chili’s free appetizer with the purchase of an adult meal.
  • Half-price drinks and slushes all day at Sonic.
  • 15% off airfare on JetBlue (Guess this is for those with refunds!)

Numerous hotels throughout the country are offering discounts on everything from drinks to massages, but I’m not going anywhere today so I won’t be taking advantage of these offers.

Even those of you who received that nice refund check in the mail can take advantage of these special offers. Just don’t brag about the size of your check when you see me getting 1/2 price ribs at Sonny’s!

Print Pictures

IMG_4391Boxes of photos with thousands of prints line the shelves of a closet with more photos in albums and drawers. It can be overwhelming to go through so many pictures trying to locate ones from a particular event or time period. It’s time to weed out those blurry pictures, duplicates, and ones that are not meaningful, and then I’ll need to determine a more effective way of organizing and labeling so they can be enjoyed instead of stored.

As much as I dread the thought of undertaking the picture organization task, I’m glad we have photographs from not only our years as a couple, but ones from our childhood, and even earlier pictures of our parents, grandparents, and early generations. Pictures in Easter outfits with bonnets and white gloves, pictures around the Christmas tree, pictures of birthdays, vacations, sporting events, friends, family, and other special occasions.

I’ve never taken so many pictures as since I got a phone with a camera. No worry about forgetting the camera, needing more film or flashbulbs, and it’s always charged so it’s always picture time. Photos of everyday events fill my camera roll and photo stream. Today it shows 780 photos saved on my phone, and that’s just the ones on the phone. In the past year, I’ve taken over 5000 pictures. No subject is too mundane.

I love digital photography. Since there’s no cost associated with bad pictures I can just shoot away sure to get a few good shots and then I can save on the computer, no more boxes or drawers full of the extra prints. However, there’s a big problem with this system. Technology changes and if some of these photos aren’t printed, we risk losing them.

This has happened with pictures taken in the past. Boxes of slides can no longer be viewed so we’ve lost our record of those memories.

Videos stored on VHS and 8mm tapes cannot be enjoyed now that we don’t own the devices needed to show them. Of course, we can take these tapes to be digitized so we can watch them again, but in what format should they be converted? Will this be a process that needs to occur every decade to keep these images?

There’s something to be said for old-fashioned prints, not dependent on technology. You can enjoy them for a lifetime and they can be passed on to the generations that follow.


Take pictures. Save them on your phone, camera, computer, or other storage devices. Make them into slide shows to show others and enjoy, but don’t stop there. Please print, label, and organize a representative selection of pictures EVERY year. You’ll be glad you did!






All I See is Weeds

On Sunday’s I’m posting poetry written by my mother-in-law, Bettie Lou. Writing poetry was a form of therapy after losing her husband and then her youngest son in 1985.

All I See is Weeds

All I see is weeds.

Why can’t I see the heron,

            The ducks in a row?

Is the sky blue? Are there

Diamonds in my lake?

            Not for me—

            Only weeds—

            Do I see.


An Expensive Bargain

The $15 bargain tent may have been one of my most expensive garage sale finds. Until I purchased the eight man tent, we were perfectly happy with the small 3 person tent we’ve been using for the past two years.

A $15 bargain?

But our trip to Hontoon Island State Park changed everything. We pitched the garage sale tent and loved the extra room. Space for our clothes and the ability to stand made for luxurious accommodations. The small tears around the zipper were not a problem, but the fly didn’t lay just right. How would it handle rain? And then I noticed the small tear in the seam near the peak. We couldn’t camp in a cheap tent and worry about the weather. We’d return to our tiny, but reliable tent.

Small, but reliable.

However, that changed when we started packing for a three night trip during Spring Break. The weather report called for rain, not enough to prevent us from camping, but enough to convince us of the need to break down and buy a bigger tent so we could spread out and escape the rain if needed. The $15 tent was retired after two nights use and a new one costing 10 times as much replaced it.

We initiated the new tent at Oscar Scherer State Park just a few miles east of Sarasota and stayed dry despite the rainy weather so it was a good investment. Although the first night was a little cold, it was dry so we could roast hot dogs over the campfire.

We didn’t spend a lot of time at the campground since this was a beach trip, but the Legacy Trail borders the park and we rode the 14 mile round trip to Venice. The hiking trails and canoes will have to wait for a return trip.

Oscar Scherer State Park…a great place to initiate our deluxe camping quarters.


Another Food Holiday?

Velveeta cheese, 2 slices of white bread, margarine. As a child, those three ingredients satisfied the requirements for a grilled cheese sandwich, or so I thought. First I substituted butter for margarine and then used different types of bread and cheese, but it’s still a three ingredient sandwich.

Photo by: Kraft

I guess I’ve been living in the Dark Ages. Grilled cheese now has a day of its own and tomorrow events in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and other cities recognize a sandwich that even the school cafeteria can’t mess up. Restaurants and food trucks specialize in this classic sandwich, but not necessarily the simple three ingredient one I make.

Check out How to Make a Turkey-Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwich by Jeremy Borniger on Snapguide.

Recipes for Waffle Grilled Cheese, French Onion Grilled Cheese, and Green Goddess Grilled Cheese are only a few found on Internet sites. Spinach, bacon, walnuts, brussel sprouts, pulled pork, and pineapple are some of the “secret ingredients” used to add pizzazz to the grown-up version of a culinary staple; but at what point is the grilled cheese sandwich not a grilled cheese sandwich? Is a sandwich with shaved roast beef, green bell pepper, yellow onion, and cheese really a grilled Philly Cheese Steak sandwich or a grilled cheese sandwich with extra ingredients?

I guess I’m a traditionalist, if it’s grilled cheese…just three ingredients; but I’m looking forward to trying some new grilled sandwiches with cheese.  And, please share your version of this classic sandwich.

Happy Grilled Cheese Day!