Happy Halloween from Dunedin

A bike ride to downtown Dunedin turned into a Halloween celebration. As we approached Main Street we could hear music and the voices of excited children and we soon saw ghosts, skeletons, pirates and trick-or-treaters filling their bags with treats from all of the businesses.


No surprise that a city that caters to cyclists would include decorated bikes


as well as Cinderella’s carriage. People of all ages were in costume, but my favorite was the girl dressed as a rainbow. I wish I could have gotten a picture of her little brother dressed as a pot of gold.


Surprised by the event, we weren’t in costume, but a man let me borrow his parrot so I could get in touch with my inner pirate, and I posed with the skeleton at the photo booth painted on the side of a building housing a local realtor.


Fortune telling and the showing of Hocus Pocus in the park attracted crowds.


And the Dunedin Historical Society got in the spirit with displays representing Halloween through the years with everything from decorations


to black and white scary movies to those wonderful costumes like the ones I wore as a child bought in a box with a plastic mask.


Halloween sure has become a big event and “Funedin” knows how to do it right.



Please stop calling

From the time I was in middle school, we started having lessons in science class about the dangers of drug use. We learned about the dangers of marijuana, pills and LSD. Class time was spent discussing how to avoid contact with drug dealers especially ones who offered them free since this was a trick to get us hooked.

I took these lessons to heart and was on the lookout for pushers at the bus stop and local park. However, no one ever approached me. I don’t know if I was shielded by a dork ring or if there were just better targets or if strangers pushing drugs to kids on the street was a much more rare occurrence than presented in class, but as a teen I somehow avoided contact with drug dealers.


I guess that’s why I’m so surprised that more than forty years later, I’ve been targeted by a new breed of drug dealer. I haven’t been approached on the streets, but they are calling my cell phone.

Jane (woman who called my number): I’m calling from X Company (I really wasn’t listening as she started her spiel.) We can have your medications delivered to your home. What prescription medications do you currently take?

Me: I don’t use drugs.

Jane: What prescription medications do you take?

Me: I don’t use drugs.

Jane: I’m talking about prescribed meds like Xanax or Prozac.

Me: I don’t think you understand, I don’t take drugs.

Jane: We can have your Xanax delivered directly to your house. Give me your address and insurance information so we can send it out right away.

Me: You don’t seem to understand. I don’t take Prozac or Xanax or any other drugs.

Jane: You don’t understand…

Me: (interrupting) No, you don’t understand. I don’t use ANY drugs and the only thing I’m going to tell you is to NEVER call this number again. Do you understand?

Silence. Jane hung up sometime during my rant.

Those lessons about drug dealers from the ’70s had it all wrong. It’s not a stranger on the street trying to get me hooked on drugs. It’s a corporation (I really wish I’d listened to the first part more carefully.) and I won’t even have to pay for the crazy meds since they’re in cahoots with the insurance company.

Hope Jane, my drug dealer, doesn’t call again.

TBT Lesson #74

About a dozen years ago, Emily and Sarah were asked to pose for a few pictures to be used to dress up the walls of a local teaching supply store. Many of the photos were taken at a local park, but this one is by far my favorite. Sisters side by side, ear to ear listening to a single conversation on a cell phone.

They smiled and laughed when asked to strike this pose because they knew it was something they would never do and felt silly pretending to jointly use one phone. But look at those smiles. They are genuine and they were having a great time together.


TBT Lesson #74: Smile, laugh and enjoy the time you spend with your sister (and remember, it’s ok to be silly).

A Train Station, Clay and a Wedding: A Unique Combination

October has been a working month for John and me. Not the set the alarm clock at 5:30, go in to the office and then return home at dusk kind of work, but instead, the delivery crew for Emily Grace Design, Emily’s wedding rental business. Three Saturdays this month we’ve delivered glasses, dishes, hand painted signs and other decor items to make a bride’s day special.

Last weekend’s wedding provided a bonus since it was located in the Morean Arts Center for Clay in St. Petersburg.


We toured the historic train station turned art center…


where workshops and classes with professional teaching artists are available at the center for pottery lovers of all ages and skill levels.


We especially enjoyed the pieces produced by children and displayed on the fence behind the station.


Art and plants occupied much of the outdoor space.


But a more formal gallery inside showcased the work of artists.



We didn’t get our hands dirty in mud or throw a pot on a wheel, instead we had a hand in creating the space designated for events into the wedding reception area for Shelby and Angel.




As a bonus, we discovered the Pinellas Trail running behind the fence decorated with the children’s work so we’ll be back again soon, but this time for a bike ride.

Thanks to my husband, John, for sharing his photos!

Don’t forget a map

A  map…the real old-fashioned kind…made of paper and a nightmare to fold, don’t forget to keep one or more in your car when you’re traveling. The past fifteen years, we’ve relied on technology for directions when driving. First, a Garmin GPS device, then the wonderful human voice of an OnStar operator, but mostly using Google Maps on a cell phone. All of these devices have served us well, and in fact, I sometimes wonder how I ever got around without the use of technology and GPS.

Paper maps are not obsolete.
Paper maps are not obsolete.

During this time, maps and atlases have been discarded. Who needs maps or worse yet, books of maps, cluttering the car?

While I don’t advocate using traditional paper maps exclusively, I have found good reason to keep a few in the glove compartment of the car. The most obvious reason: lack of cell service. This seems especially important when traveling in the state of Virginia. Sure, cell service is no problem in Richmond or Alexandria, but near the Shenandoah Parkway, in a town called Damascus or even driving in the outskirts of Charlottesville, service is sketchy at best and if you’re relying exclusively on technology, you may be disappointed. (Of course, this is also a problem in the Ocala National Forest.)

Every state's visitor center gives away free maps.
Every state’s visitor center gives away free maps.

Maps also make it possible for you to see the “big picture”. A screen of less than 5″ is sufficient for most phone uses, but sometimes you need to see more than five inches of the map, and even when using zoom features looking at a route hundreds of miles away is not satisfactory on the phone.

And if you aren’t interested in the shortest route from Point A to Point B, but instead would like to make detours along the way, having a map to guide you in plotting a route including covered bridges, or lighthouses, or springs or tacky tourist traps. This can best be accomplished by finding the destinations on the map and then adding to your device. Sure, I know you can just Google addresses and add to the GPS, but without knowing a little about unfamiliar places, I could have made the route from Maine to Vermont twice as long by adding the locations of covered bridges in an illogical manner or including ones far from the most direct path.

Of course, I won’t even mention something like a dead battery on a cell phone because I know you would never leave without a fully charged phone or at least a charger that could be used in the car to power your techy map.

A pencil pouch like those carried by students make a perfect place to store maps.
A pencil pouch like those carried by students make a perfect place to store maps.

I admit to being totally addicted to Google maps, even for getting to new places close to home, but I’ve got a well organized stash of road maps tucked away in the car for use when traveling. So next time you take to the road, don’t forget a map.



Remember, maps are FREE with your AAA membership. Take advantage of this benefit.


It’s a Popcorn Kind of Day

With an American League Baseball playoff game and college football on the schedule for this evening, popcorn is calling my name. Here’s a repeat of popcorn treats originally posted last October. What is it about October that makes me want popcorn?

Sixteen billion quarts? That’s how much popcorn is consumed by Americans each year. And what better time to pop up some of this tasty treat? After all, October is National Popcorn Month and with the World Series just around the corner, it makes sense that the games be accompanied by popcorn.
Sure, you can just throw a bag of popcorn in the microwave, but why not add a little pizazz with one of these yummy recipes.
A Halloween favorite, the popcorn ball, with a twist = Caramel Cashew Popcorn Balls.

Caramel Cashew Popcorn Balls

Maybe this simple, spicy Garlic Parmesan Popcorn hits the spot.

Garlic Parmesan Popcorn

What about a little S’more Caramel Corn?

S’more Caramel Corn

If I could still eat peanut butter, Puppy Chow Popcorn would be my favorite.

Puppy Chow Popcorn

How can you resist Browned Butter Snickerdoodle Popcorn?

Browned Butter Snickerdoodle Popcorn

I’m not sure about Key Lime Pie Popcorn. I love Key Lime Pie, and since I love everything about Florida, I guess I should give it a try.

Key Lime Pie Popcorn

Cookie dough + popcorn? Yum! Monster Cookie Dough Popcorn

Monster Cookie Dough Popcorn

Try White Chocolate Merry Munch for a sweet, chocolate flavored popcorn. Maybe this will need to wait for December. It looks like Christmas.

White Chocolate Merry Munch

And finally, here’s a simple, traditional Popcorn Ball Recipe from Jolly Time®

8 cups popped JOLLY TIME® Blast O Butter or Butter Microwave Pop Corn
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Keep popped popcorn warm in 200º oven while preparing syrup.
In 2-quart saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, water, butter and salt.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
Continue cooking without stirring until temperature reaches 270º on a candy thermometer or until a small amount of syrup dropped into very cold water separates into threads, which are hard but not brittle.
Remove from heat.
Add vanilla; stir just enough to mix through hot syrup.
Slowly pour over popcorn, stirring to coat every kernel.
Cool just enough to handle.
Shape into balls, using JOLLY TIME® Pop Corn Ball Maker or buttered hands.
Cool on foil or buttered wax paper. Wrap in plastic wrap; tie with a ribbon.

TBT Lesson #73

In August 1998, yes AUGUST, the hottest month of the year in Florida, Disney and McDonalds sponsored a 5k race at Epcot called Run Around the World. Both Emily and Meghan ran the 5k winding through Epcot past the countries of Mexico, China, Japan, France and Canada. Since spectators were not allowed in the park, we waited at the finish line for the girls and their assessment of the course.

Meghan, a high school freshman, had been running daily as part of the Forest High School cross country team and was ready for a race, and Emily, a sixth grader, was willing to run with her sister because it sounded like fun.

After the run Meghan talked about how she enjoyed running through the park and listening to the music of each country she passed. Emily’s experience was quite different. She felt sick throughout the 5k and was very overheated at the finish. In fact, upon hearing her sister talk about the race, she asked, “There was music? There were countries?”


TBT Lesson #73: It’s always good to have a friend, or better yet, a sister to accompany you around the world.

And while Emily’s first run at Epcot wasn’t all that enjoyable, she’s run the Disney Princess Half Marathon twice so the Run Around the World didn’t end her running days.

Feeling a lot like Charlie Brown

“Have you come to sing pumpkin carols?” Linus asks, in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.


I can’t say I heard any singing as we rode past a field of pumpkins along the Creeper Trail in Virginia, but I feel a little like Linus looking for pumpkins this fall.


Not the Great Pumpkin, but pumpkins, as well as other gourds to make the house look like fall.


No scarecrows, no ghosts or witches, no ghoulish displays, just pumpkins and gourds


maybe accompanied by a bromeliad, a couple of succulents, or a Christmas cactus. Do you think that will increase the likelihood of hearing those pumpkin carols?




Predicting Snow in Stowe

Working on a large piece of sculpture at the West Branch Gallery and Sculpture Park, an artist stopped his work to talk to us about the process of carving over 6000 pounds of rock into a double fountain weighing more than a ton. He explained that this would be his last large piece of the year since all outside work would have to be completed within two weeks before the first snowfall.


“Really? Snow in only two weeks?” we’d asked on September 29th. It was hard to believe that snow would be falling only three weeks after the beginning of autumn, but he was right. On Sunday morning, pictures of Stowe, Vermont’s brightly colored leaves covered in snow were broadcast on the morning news.


I feel confident the artist met the deadline, adding another piece in the outdoor sculpture garden located behind the gallery.


Over a dozen large pieces carved from local materials including walkways, seats and fountains were on display.


Jigsaw like stone puzzles as well as metal sculptures were included in the garden as well as more practical pieces. Additional works will have to wait until the snow thaws next spring.


If this art thing doesn’t work out for the man we spoke to, I’d be glad to provide a recommendation as a meteorologist.

Wear an Apron

This summer Meghan told me a story about one of her friends burning her stomach while wearing her bathing suit while frying bacon. She knew that would bring a smile to my face because I’ve said more than once, a bathing suit does not make good cooking attire.

Like Meghan’s friend, my mom would leave the pool to step inside and prepare lunch. On most days it wasn’t a problem, but when she decided to make BLT sandwiches, she too had problems with the popping bacon grease. One solution: get dressed before cooking, but at least put on an apron.


Even when you’re not wearing swimwear, it makes sense to wear an apron while cooking.

  • You’ll protect your clothing from grease splatters, tomato sauce and other food spills.
  • You’ll have pockets so you can find measuring spoons, scissors or other items frequently misplaced.

And aprons aren’t only for cooking…they’re great for crafting and building projects. Just make sure you choose the right apron for the project!


In fact, aprons can even be classy wedding attire.

It’s time to bring back this useful but underused piece of clothing. Wear an apron!

143 Mom