Taking a Bite Out of History

IMG_3650Why stay in one of the chain hotels when a room at an historic Florida lodge can be booked for the same price? That’s what inspired us to begin a weekend camping trip at the Wakulla Springs Lodge. Instead of trying to pitch a tent in the dark, we stopped just south of Tallahassee for the night.

The interior of the lodge reminds guests of a time gone by with marble throughout the lodge on floors, baseboards, counters, and staircases, including a 70 foot marble bar in the gift shop, the world’s longest, and according to the lodge website, the walnut elevator is the only surviving period art deco elevator in operation. The artwork on the ceiling draws attention to the painting of local wildlife scenes…beautiful.

 

Of course, eating at the lodge had to be included, and while we enjoyed the fried chicken and seafood platter, the setting is what makes dinner in the lodge something to experience.

The rooms are decorated with antiques and provide comfortable accommodations for sleeping, but if television or other modern technology is required, guests will be disappointed. We enjoyed the quiet and listened to a University of Miami football game on the radio. And really, listening to the radio (even if on an iPhone app) seems to match the surroundings perfectly.

Eating breakfast at the lodge was not on the agenda, but since the lodge is located miles away from other facilities, we found ourselves back in the dining room in the morning devouring a hardy meal before taking to the river and bike riding at Wakulla Springs State Park, and then on to the campground.

TBT Lesson #24

As we drove through Blountstown last Friday afternoon, we were greeted by law enforcement officers stationed at the city line. Of course, I thought we’d entered another small town speed trap. But then I noticed children sitting on the curbs and adults in lawn chairs in front of the local businesses along both Central Avenue (SR 20) and Main Street (SR 71).

Blountstown was preparing for an old-fashioned homecoming parade, like the ones we looked forward to every year when I was a student at Pompano Beach High School in the 1970s. I thought these parades were a thing of the past so it was good to see a community invested in their high school and ready to celebrate.

I dug out my Beanpicker, our high school year book and found this picture of the band float from the homecoming parade in 1975. Go Tornadoes!

floatTBT Lesson#24: Make time for homecoming and high school fun. After all, you’re only young once.

Let’s Go Camping

muirIt may not be the mountains, but John Muir is right. Camping, even in the modern-day version of wilderness, is a necessity.

I’m not sure he envisioned, battery operated fans and lights, and inflatable beds, but there’s nothing like sleeping out in the fresh air.

IMG_3831And enjoying the warmth of a campfire.

The crisp autumn weather makes this a perfect time of year to get a little taste of wilderness.

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It’s Springtime in October!

We met our goal of visiting 14 springs months ago, but we’re still touring Florida springs, this time in the panhandle. One of the world’s largest and deepest fresh water springs, Wakulla Springs is known for its sparkling water and diverse wildlife, not only in the state, but world-wide. While this claim may seem far-fetched, on our three mile boat tour down the river we were accompanied by a German family and a group of tourists from Japan as well as some out of staters who were enthralled by the sight of alligators and manatee.

The spring itself covers approximately three acres and flows from a cave near the dive platform in the swimming area of the park. In addition to the riverboat tour we took, glass bottom boat tours are available which provide a glimpse of the mouth of the cave some 100 feet below the surface.

Numerous fish, birds, and alligators inhabit the river and since we were on the water on a cool autumn day with temperatures in the 50s, we even saw several manatee congregating in the 69º water of the spring.

After our boat tour we rode our bikes to the park entrance.

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This is where the smaller Sally Ward Spring is located.

 

Our goal: 14 springs in 2014. Wakulla Springs #18 and Sally Ward Spring #19. It’s springtime in October.

Don’t Panic! Stay the Course!

With the news of the stock market roller coaster this October, it’s easy to see why people panic and either stop contributing to retirement plans or worse yet withdraw their money. So far, thirteen times this month, the stock market has made triple digit swings, both positive and negative…making it difficult to remain calm.

stocks

However, it’s important to stick with your plan. You’re invested for the long term. You’ll be fine. Try to relax. My plan calls for throwing those monthly statements in the drawer unopened. This is how I’ve survived market volatility in the past so I know it works.

Of course, it is important to rebalance your accounts every year or two, but this is not the time. Wait until things calm down and then re-evaluate your plan, diversify, and make sure you have the cash you need in the short term while you wait for a market rebound.

I figure if Warren Buffett can lose $2,000,000,000 (that’s right, 2 billion) in 2 days and not panic, I can weather the storm even with retirement close at hand.

You’ll survive this market, and you’ll encounter many more times when you’ll want to bury you’re money in the back yard, but don’t panic! Stay the course.

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Mom

 

Pumpkin Masterpieces

Have you ever noticed how many Methodist churches set up Pumpkin Patches this time of year? Well, with no children at home, it’s been a few years since we’ve visited the Pumpkin Patch; but I’m thinking this year we need to create a masterpiece.

I’ve found some great ideas that don’t look too difficult. I’m leaning toward the Wicked Witch.

I could carve  Mr. Mummy Pumpkin from Better Homes and Gardens.

Mr. Mummy Pumpkin

Or maybe it would be better to create a cat themed jack-o-lantern from Catster.

Cat-o-lantern

A Wicked Witch from Women’s Day seems more my style.

Wicked Witch

Don’t want to carve? I could try Mr. and Mrs. Pumpkin Head from Frugal Life Project.

Mr. & Mrs. Pumpkin Head

How about making a Pumpkin Pie? from diy Network.

Pumpkin Pie?

Let the Celebration Begin

IMG_3470The first of many celebrations in honor of Sarah and Daniel took place last Friday night in Tallahassee.

IMG_3548Jeff, Carole, Meghan, John and I took off after work to attend an engagement party given by Daniel’s brother and sister-in-law, Brandon and Ali at the home of a friend, Judy.

IMG_3558Sarah’s and Daniel’s families had the chance to meet one another as friends and family gathered to toast the bride and groom to be.

The pre-wedding celebration season has officially begun!

October Pound Cake of the Month: Caramel Apple

My failure to read the ingredient list properly resulted in a different cake than planned. With my grocery list in hand, I purchased flour, eggs, and apple cider.

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However, once back at home, I realized the recipe did not call for apple cider. Instead, it needed sparkling apple cider…oops! Unwillingly to drive eight miles to correct the mistake, I decided to make a slight modification.

I preheated the oven, prepared the pan, measured all ingredients, and went to work. Since the recipe did not make enough batter for a ten cup bundt pan, I used the six cup pan and made three cupcakes. I figured the cupcakes would give me the opportunity to taste test the modified apple cake recipe so if it was a complete failure, I could prepare something else for dessert since we had a guest coming for dinner.

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup apple cider

Caramel Glaze

  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fortunately, the substitution of apple cider for sparkling apple cider did not ruin the cake. In fact, the cake was moist and tasty. However, the original glaze recipe was a complete disaster! The original recipe called for mixing powdered sugar with the sparkling apple cider to create a sweet topping for the cake.

YUCK! It tasted bland as if the sugar was mixed with water. I glazed one of the cupcakes, took a couple of bites, and threw it in the garbage. I’d have to come up with an alternative glaze.

Since caramel and apples make a perfect combination, I located a recipe for a caramel glaze which provided the tasty finishing touch the cake needed.

Preparation:

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350º and spray bundt pan with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add the flour mixture to the creamed mix alternately with cider, beating well after each addition.
  • Pour batter into prepared baking pan and then bake for 40-50 minutes.
  • Cool in pan 10 minutes and then remove from pan and cool on wire rack to cool completely.

Caramel Glaze

  • Bring brown sugar, butter, and milk to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.
  • Boil 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  • Stir 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly.
  • Use immediately.

I wouldn’t say the Caramel Apple Pound Cake would make my top 5 list, but it was an easy cake with the taste of fall. One that I’d make again, and I don’t think I’d change to the original recipe. I’ll stick with the apple cider.

The directions for the Sparkling Apple Cider Pound Cake that I thought I was going to make can be found here from The Country Cook.

 

TBT Lesson #23

With basketball season just around the corner, how could I pass up a picture of my Dad and one of his high school basketball teammates?

And how can I resist making a comment about their uniforms? I’m not a big fan of the baggy, knee length pants worn today; but when compared to the shorts from the 1950s, I’ll take the uniforms of today.

FullSizeRenderTBT Lesson #23: When choosing uniform shorts, use the finger-tip rule. You know the one girls must follow to determine if their skirts are too short…the uniform shorts need to be at least as long as a player’s fingertips when his arms are at his side.

And what is it with the belt? Not a good look!

A boat by any other name…

A trip on the water, especially when there’s a marina with a lot of moored boats, results in a little boat naming research.

Boats named for people

Names that play on words…especially the word REEL

Some conjure up musical memories

And others just for fun

I’ve heard it said that naming a boat is more difficult than naming a child. All the more reason to do a little more research.