She said Yes to the dress!

One big wedding task was completed last week. Sarah invited Pam (Daniel’s mom) and me to Jacksonville to help her choose a wedding dress.

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Our appointment was the first of the day so we were waiting for the store to open to insure we were able to maximize the hour and a half time allotted. We hit the store with dress styles selected online prior to our visit so Kristen, our consultant, was able to locate dresses that met Sarah’s criteria.

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I know I’m biased, but Sarah looked beautiful in all of the dresses. Every ten minutes Sarah exited the dressing room and modeled another dress adding jewelry and ribbons as we evaluated the pros and cons of each wedding gown.

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After narrowing the selection to two dresses and trying each on a second time and then a third, it was obvious that Sarah’s face lit up in a different way when wearing one of the dresses…the dress.

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We all left with a feeling of great accomplishment. Sarah has a wedding dress!

A Rabbit Burger?

When Sarah suggested we eat lunch at The Blind Rabbit I was a little skeptical. The sign says “A burger and whiskey bar”. Does that mean they serve rabbit burgers?

She assured me she’d eaten there before and that I’d like the food so I agreed to give it a try. And she was right, despite the name on the sign, rabbit burgers were not on the menu.

IMG_7753Instead both John and I ordered cheeseburgers. Burgers and other sandwiches are served with a sauce and a root or side. A root? Their unique name for potatoes or onions. I choose the Tobacco Onions and John ordered the Hand Cut Chips, and we both choose the same sauce, Creole Mayo.

Sarah ordered The Southern Cuban Sandwich. So what makes a Cuban sandwich southern? A fried green tomato with bourbon spiked Creole mustard. And instead of a root, she ordered a side – Mac ‘n Cheese.

Other interesting choices: Bourbon Whipped Sweet Potatoes, Goat Cheese Grits, and Red Beans and Rice. They even serve milkshakes spiked with Caramel Moonshine or Buffalo Bourbon. No one tried these, and I can’t even imagine a spiked milkshake.

The Blind Rabbit was a good choice and I’m sure we’ll return.

The best thing about going to Jacksonville…visiting Sarah and Daniel; but the restaurants are a close second.

Happy 50th!

Do You Want to Know a Secret? Today my sister turns 50 and officially becomes a member of the Half-Century Club! Hope she takes time out to celebrate and Twist and Shout.

Megan & Jon Wedding 245

1964…what a year…maybe the best year for music of all time!

1964 Billboard Top Ten Hits:

1. I Want to Hold Your Hand, The Beatles
2. She Loves You, The Beatles
3. Hello, Dolly!, Louis Armstrong
4. Oh, Pretty Woman, Roy Orbison
5. I Get Around, The Beach Boys
6. Everybody Loves Somebody, Dean Martin
7. My Guy, Mary Wells
8. We’ll Sing In the Sunshine, Gale Garnett
9. Last Kiss, J. Frank Wilson & The Cavaliers
10. Where Did Our Love Go, The Supremes

And the Beatles also released the following hits:

  • A Hard Day’s Night
  • Please Please Me
  • Twist and Shout
  • Can’t Buy Me Love
  • Do You Want to Know A Secret
  • I Saw Her Standing There

Happy Birthday, Carol. Listen to some of the hits of your year and enjoy the day!

Bark Like a Buccanneer

Ahoy, Matey! This Friday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Time to prepare. Brush up on your pirate vocabulary and look for your eye patch.

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Hannah

It looks like Hannah may be able to take advantage of Krispy Kreme Donut’s offer of a dozen free donuts to anyone who dresses like a pirate on September 19th. If you’re not willing to dress for donuts, you can still get one free glazed donut for simply talking like a pirate this Friday.

According to Krispy Kreme’s website, they require customers to don three or more of the following items of “pirate attire” to qualify for a dozen donuts…and no weapons are allowed!

• Eye Patch
• Pirate Hat
• Bandana
• Peg Leg
• Parrot on Shoulder
• Pirate Shirt / Loose white shirt
• Knickers
• Leather Belt
• Silver and gold necklaces and earrings
• Pirate Hook
• Pointy black boots or ragged brown sandals

Blow me down! John, an old salt, A.J., a powder monkey, Zachary, a picaroon, and their bucko pals prepare for Friday. You can too by checking out the Pirate’s Realm.

 

To get in the mood, here’s a video of the “official” Talk Like a Pirate Day song!

 

11 Down; 3 To Go

Paella became a family favorite thanks to Angela, a housekeeper who watched John and his brother when they were in elementary school and who cooked a Cuban meal for the family each Tuesday while their mother attended classes to earn her Master’s Degree at the University of Miami.

Angela fled Cuba with her family and took refuge in Colombia for a time while awaiting a visa to the United States. As a result, her recipe combines both Cuban and Colombian traditions, making it a little different than other paella recipes.

For years, John’s mom promised to teach us how to make paella. Unfortunately, it never happened. On more than one occasion, she’d start explaining the process but would get distracted and never completed the directions. And of course, she never wrote down a recipe.

IMG_7645So we decided that one of our goals on our 14 in 14 list was to recreate the paella recipe. I cultivated about a dozen recipes that we used to find the proper ingredients and cooking tips. This was more difficult than expected since we don’t use mussels or calamari in our version of paella. And while it’s not perfect, it’s close enough to claim success. We’ll continue to tweak the recipe, but in the meantime, paella will make a reappearance on our table.

Ingredients: (serves 6-8)

  • one boneless butterflied pork chop
  • two chicken thighs
  • 1/2 pound bay scallops
  • 1/2 pound cod filet
  • 2/3 pound shrimp
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 Tablespoons Safrito
  • Ocho Rios Complete (use to season meat as cooking)
  • 4 cups rice
  • 1 can ( 8.5oz) Le Sueur peas
  • Adobo powder (to taste)
  • Optional: Canned asparagus and pimento

Directions:

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons butter on medium in a large Dutch Oven.
  2. Season scallops with Ocho Rios and then add scallops to hot pan and cook for about 4 minutes.
  3. Remove scallops from pan and add another teaspoon of olive oil.
  4. Season cod with Ocho Rios and cook fish ’til flaky.
  5. Set the fish aside and add another teaspoon of olive oil to pan.
  6. Season pork chop with Ocho Rios and brown on both sides.
  7. Set aside pork chop and add approximately 6 cups of water to the pan and bring to a boil.
  8. Add the chicken thighs and the pork chop to the boiling water ’til cooked thoroughly. (The pork chop will cook more quickly than the chicken.)
  9. Reserve 4 cups of the liquid in the pan, bring back to a boil, add 2 cups of rice and cook according to package directions.*Add shrimp after 12 minutes – see step 10.
  10. After 12 minutes fold shrimp in rice and cover for the remaining 8 minutes.
  11. Dice pork chop. Skin and dice chicken. Pull fish apart while the rice is cooking.
  12. Add pork chop, chicken, fish, and scallops to rice and fold in 8 Tablespoons of Safrito.
  13. Season with Adobo according to taste.
  14. Add peas and then place in oven at 250º for approximately 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
  15. Optional: If desired, top paella with asparagus and pimento before placing in the oven.

Serve with Cuban bread, salad, and sangria or wine.

 

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

You have to love technology.  It makes it possible to multi-task by working, searching the internet, sending emails, texting, talking on the phone, reading books, watching videos, or listening to music while doing other things. But while technology makes it possible to pack a lot into your hectic day, it can also cause you to be distracted.

Even before all of these distractions, John frequently admonished me for not paying attention to my surroundings. I remember one time in particular when he yelled to me from the car as I walked through a parking lot because someone was following me, and he felt I was unaware of a potential problem.

awareWith the news this past week of three attacks on the University of Florida campus, it seems like a good time to remind you of the importance of taking some simple precautions for your personal safety.

The Electronic Security Association provides good tips concerning personal safety that we should all think about so we’re in control of our environment. Check them out:

Walking/Running Precautions:

  • Take a friend (even a furry one). Walking a dog, especially one inclined to bark at strangers, is better than venturing out alone.
  • Take your cell phone with you so you can call 911 if you see something suspicious.
  • Let a friend or family member know where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  • Avoid walking too closely to bushes or areas with any kind of tall overgrowth.
  • Stay attentive to your surroundings and if listening to music, keep the volume at a low level so you can hear what’s going on around you.
  • Only run or walk in familiar areas.
  • Use caution when out at night. If you are out after dark, always carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk facing traffic. Facing traffic makes it more difficult for someone to drive up behind you without being noticed. 

Driving and Parked Car Precautions:

  • Before heading to your destination, make sure you have enough gas to get you there and back. You don’t want to be stranded alone.
  • If you feel like you are being followed, drive to the nearest gas station or open business. Do not drive home until you are completely sure you are alone.
  • Roll up the windows and lock all car doors every time you leave your car.
  • When you approach your car, have the key ready.
  • Avoid parking in isolated areas especially at night. If possible, park your car under a lamppost.

If You Are Attacked:

  • Noise is your most immediate defense. Not only will sound attract attention to you and make your location known but it may also cause the would-be attacker to flee.
  • If possible, run in the direction of help. An assailant usually will not engage in a pursuit because it could increase the possibility of detection or apprehension.
  • If the assailant demands your purse, keys or money, give it to him or her. Don’t risk your life.
  • Never leave the site of the attack when prompted by an attacker. Don’t believe an assailant that says he or she won’t hurt you if you leave with him or her. Stay where you are, fight and scream.

Since you can only be in control of what you are aware, please be aware of your surroundings!

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Mom

 

 

 

 

Quotes for Grandparents

Not being a grandparent (and in no hurry to become one since we’re still enjoying the wedding phase), I realized I missed Grandparent’s Day when I started seeing so many pictures on Facebook of school events celebrating grandparents this week.

I didn’t realize as a child how lucky I was to know all four of my grandparents and six of my eight great grandparents. I took it for granted that every child was surrounding by grandparents.

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Grandpa & Grandma Miller on their 50th anniversary

Grandparents are a delightful blend of laughter, caring deeds, wonderful stories, and love. ~ Unknown

A grandmother is a babysitter who watches the kids instead of the television. ~Author Unknown

There’s no place like home… except Grandma’s. ~Author Unknown

When grandparents enter the door, discipline flies out the window. ~Ogden Nash

You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. ~Proverb

The best place to be when you’re sad is Grandpa’s lap. ~Author Unknown

If you’re lucky enough to still have grandparents, visit them, cherish them and celebrate them while you can. ~Regina Brett
The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy. ~Sam Levenson
If nothing is going well, call your Grandmother. ~Italian Proverb
The idea that no one is perfect is a view most commonly held by people with no grandchildren. ~Doug Larson
Grandparents are there to help the child get into mischief they haven’t thought of yet. ~Gene Perret
Grandparents, like heroes, are as necessary to a child’s growth as vitamins. ~Joyce Allston
Grandparents make the world…a little softer, a little kinder, a little warmer. ~author unknown
Now I have a challenge. Since I could only find one picture of my dad’s parents as I prepared to write today, I’ll be going through boxes to locate pictures of all my grandparents. It’s time to create a scrapbook with these old photos and write down my memories before they’re lost forever.

Sanibel v Stump Pass

Last spring we discovered the beach at Stump Pass State Park on Manasota Key. As part of our 14 in 14, we took a Spring Break trip exploring new places along Florida’s Southwest coast, and we fell in love with one of those places, Stump Pass State Park.

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In fact, we decided to return in the summer for a short beach trip. A time that’s traditionally spent on our favorite beach, Sanibel, and much to our surprise we found many things about Stump Pass that we liked better than Sanibel. This lead us to evaluate the two beaches.

Shells: Sanibel

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Shark’s Teeth: Stump Pass

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Fishing: Sanibel

Turtles: Stump Pass

Bicycling: Sanibel

Sunset: Stump Pass

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Beach: Stump Pass

Restaurants: Sanibel, Sanibel,Sanibel!!!

Sanibel Grill! Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill! Island Cow! Cheeburger, Cheebuger! Lazy Flamingo! No comparison!

 

Maybe the best lesson to learn is not to get in a rut. Enjoy a favorite place, but not to the exclusion of trying something new.

We’ll just need to spend more time on the beach so we can go to Sanibel and Stump Pass.

9 Recipes to Celebrate National Peanut Day

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since I’ve eaten a peanut or any peanut product, but after being diagnosed with a peanut allergy in 2004, I traded in my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and PB&J sandwiches for a fashionable, red, plastic wristband and an Epi-Pen.

Fortunately, all peanuts didn’t have to be removed from the house because had that been the doctor’s orders, I’m afraid my husband and dad would both have chosen to keep the peanuts and remove me from the house instead.

While I won’t be eating peanuts or preparing any recipes with peanuts as an ingredient, I thought it’s time to locate some new recipes for the rest of the peanut lovers in the family, and since tomorrow’s National Peanut Day, eating a little homemade peanut butter (click here for recipe) or one of the sweet treats below would be a good way to celebrate.

No Bake Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Squares

Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Squares recipe by The Food Network

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookie recipe by Cooking on the Front Burner

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pound Cake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pound Cake by Inspired by Charm

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins recipe by The Frugal Girls

Peanut Butter Chocolate Lasagna

Peanut Butter Chocolate Lasagna recipe by Snappy Gourmet

Microwave Peanut Brittle

Microwave Peanut Brittle recipe by Recipes for our Daily Bread

Peanut Butter Granola

Peanut Butter Granola recipe by Kristine’s Kitchen

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie recipe by the Food Network

Do something nutty to celebrate National Peanut Day!

 

 

 

TBT #18

Another school year means another high school Cross Country season. My dad ran cross country in the 1950s (only because the basketball coach required his players to run) and then I ran in the 1970s. Starting in 1998, one or more of our daughters ran varsity cross country for Forest High School for nine seasons.

We still check the local paper for cross country results. I guess it’s in our blood.

IMG_3696Throwback Thursday Lesson #18: Hard work pays off!