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Hello World!

Welcome to La-Di-Da Ladies.  Meet Socks, one of our three cats.  He’s a rescue cat, previously a barnyard mouser, but now enjoys a luxurious lifestyle as an indoor cat.  Here he is on an outing in the yard, enjoying the green grass.  I’m not sure if he is squinting because the sun is in his […]

Life on the River

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Flights Around the World

The Symphony Guild in Daytona Beach, FL has an annual fundraiser called the Art of Dining showcasing innovative, creative, and original tabletops prepared by area clubs, decorators, florists, and individuals.  This is one table I and 2 friends from the Garden Club of Spruce Creek Fly-In Community put together using our personal china, crystal, and […]

Garden Paradise

This is a photo of our front yard Koi pond at our previous home in Boca Raton, FL.  It was featured on an HGTV special program “Water Gardens” back in 2002.  The beautiful orange and white butterfly Koi in the center of the photo was my favorite, we named her “Lady”.  You can still see […]

Today's Quote:

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.

James Dent

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Alligators In Our Yard!

 

You have to look real close, but the gator is resting behind the sago palm and the water’s edge.  Needless to say, I too these photos from inside the house and did not go out to get a closer inspection.

The Alligator Trapper caught “the big one” which was 12 foot plus.  Here he is taking him away in his little boat.  Hooray!

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Ahhhh, the joys of living on the river, or is there danger lurking in the shallows?  Just thought ya’ll would find the attached photos interesting of our alligator visitors, yes, plural alligators.

There have always been gators floating and swimming past our yard and dock since we have been here, but they typically don’t bother anything or anyone.  However, recently a couple of our neighbor’s dogs were playing in the shallows off of our yard (our yard is not bulk headed like the ones on either side of us) as we were sitting down to watch the evening news when Bob spotted one of the gators (the large one) making a bee-line for the dogs and moving at a very past pace.  I ran out the back door and called to Missy, one of the dogs.  Luckily she is very obedient and came out of the water immediately and ran up on the yard.  The black dog from one street over followed her.  The gator came to a dead stop in the water, about 6 feet from where the dogs were playing.  We figure they had about a few seconds left before attack.

After contacting the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (on the Alligator Hotline), they issued us a case number then issued a permit to the alligator trapper assigned to our area.  He came out the next night and chased “the big one” from the end of our dock, across the river, and into the forest preserve, but couldn’t catch him.  We had gone to Jacksonville or Saturday for our anniversary and to do some shopping.  It just so happened that just as we arrived home, the gator trapper called to see if we had seen any sight of the gator.  As I was telling him that we had not seen him for a couple of days I looked out the window and lo and behold, a gator was sunning himself on our back lawn.  YIKES!

The trapper came about 30 minutes later but by then the gator had gone into the water.  He set a bait hook at the end of our dock and told me to keep an eye on it and call me when the bait had been taken.  YIKES again!  It is very interesting that they put a big hunk of chicken or turkey on a big hook suspended by a long metal pole off the dock.  Attached to the hook is a rope with plastic floaters, like a bait jug and liter bottles from soft drinks at intervals along the rope.  That way when the gator takes the bait and swims off, they just follow where the line of bottles are.  Think of the scene from “Jaws” where they attach the large yellow barrels to the harpoon that they try to catch the shark with.

The bait was still there at 9:00 that night from what I could see from the patio deck, but the trapper said not to come out at night with flashlights to check the trap, just in case the gator was lurking near by.  You think I would go out there at night?  NOOOOOOO!

But at early light at 6:30 the next morning I could see that the bait was gone and I called the trapper.  He came out ASAP and scoured the shoreline of the river in his boat then finally found the gator across the river deep in a cedar creek shoal.  He had to call in reinforcements as his boat was too small to drag him out.  I spoke to him by cell phone and he said the gator was already dead, apparently they swallow the hook and that’s all I will say about that.

The trapper was kind enough to bring the gator across the river so that I could get photos of it, but he had to hurry and get it to shore once it gets out in the sunlight.  The trapper said this was a 12 foot plus gator, and that this was “the big one” that he chased the other night, and the one that most probably came after the neighbor’s dogs.

Page 2 of the story:  The gator you see in the yard he said was only a 7 to 9 footer, based on the photos I took, but was feeling at home enough to come up on shore to relax and sun himself, so he would need to go as well.  I called the Alligator Hotline again and added one more gator to the permit, as the trapper said he was only allowed to catch the one gator on the permit.  So we will be gator hunting again very soon!

Well, so much for excitement in sunny Florida!

Spring Is In The Air & It’s Azalea Time!

Spring is in the air, and it’s azalea time in the San Mateo and Palatka areas.  The azaleas are particularly beautiful this year and we had a mild winter, and the warm weather came early.  As you know, we have been re-landscaping the church gardens.  Here is a look at the gardens in their current state.  We have a collection of mature azaleas that have been here for many years, and we boast 7 different colors.  I would have to say, they are more beautiful than Ravine Gardens, which is a State Park here in Palatka that hosts an Azalea Festival the 1st weekend of March each year, but I might be a bit biased.  Here’s a stroll around the grounds and see the beauty here!

 

 

 

 

Re-Landscaping the Church Gardens

We belong to a tiny historic Church here in NE Florida.  A lot of the members are descendants from the original founders back from 1892.  It’s a little Norman Rockwell looking church with a great “family” congregation and a super Pastor.  During my winter hiatus I worked on re-landscaping the gardens around the Church.  The majority of the plantings around the Church are azaleas, so I wanted to be sure that these were saved, fertilized, and properly watered.  The techniques used in this application could be applied anywhere, especially at your home and garden.

Attached are some “before” and “after” photos which really tell the story better than any words I could say.  What they say is true, a picture is worth a thousand words.  But I will try to break down the steps I took in getting the gardens back up to looking as they should look to give glory to the Lord.

First I had to remove all the old plants that had either died or were in the process of dying.  Then came the weeding.  Oh my, the weeding took some time and hard work.  You want to first spray as many of the weeds with Roundup and let it sit about a week to give the weeds time to die off .  This will make it slightly (and only slightly) easier to pull the weeds.  A lot of the weeds in the open area could be pulled up with the use of a garden hoe.  That way you can get down to the roots.  Weeds that were closer to the existing plants had to be pulled by hand individually.

 While the weeding was going on, another member of the Church (my new best friend Ron) was reworking the sprinkler system.  Since this Church has been there for 120 years, I’m not sure when the sprinkler system was installed, but I can tell you it must have been a really long time ago.  There is no electrical outlet on the outside of the building so therefore, there is no automatic sprinkler controls.  I asked the Building & Grounds Chairman where were the valves to turn on the sprinklers.  He showed me a cluster of 6 foot tall Canna Lilies on the side of the Church.  The valves and the valve box were buried under the Canna Lilies.  Does that tell you how long it had been since the sprinklers had been turned on?  Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of the location and condition of the valve box, but basically, the valves were below ground level.  The valves were also leaking, so the valve box would be partially full of water and mud, and whatever else.  In order to turn the valves on, which were 2 zones the east and west side of the church, I had to wear long rubber gloves and stick my hand down in the muck to accomplish my task.  Also, you had to kneel down on the ground with a rubber pad just to get down to the valves.  Needless to say, this was not an ideal situation.

Enter Ron, the Super Sprinkler Man of the church.  You’ve heard of Super Man, well we have a Super Sprinkler Man!  First Ron had to dig up that 6 foot tall stand of Canna Lilies.  What a job that was!  Then several of the heads and pipes were broken.  Those he replaced (he was real good with the pvc pipe and all the materials that went along with sprinkler repair).  Needless to say, a lot of the sprinkler heads were not the correct type for that area of the garden.  So a lot of new sprinkler heads were bought to replace along the garden area; then they all had to be adjusted so that they would water the plants without getting too much water on the building or the sidewalks.

Another issue Ron had to address is that the flower bed that ran along the front handicap ramp had the sprinkler lines running right down the center.  The plants, which were Indian Hawthorns, were placed between the sprinklers and the sidewalk, causing the bush to hang out over the sidewalk.  Plus, they were planted in an unusual way, kind of bunched upped together.  Ron dug a trench along the ramp, and with the use of some 90 degree “L” connectors, he moved the sprinkler line along the ramp so that we could add side strip sprinkler heads and the plants could then be planted down the center and have room to grow in either direction.  The sprinkler heads would then water just the plants and not the sidewalk.  We first tried transplanting the Indian Hawthorns, but since they were not in the best condition when we transplanted them, they were looking a little sickly, so I replaced them with dwarf azaleas to tie in with the rest of the landscaping.  These were the only Indian Hawthorns on the property, so they really didn’t go with the rest of the scheme.  Unfortunately, we were both so busy working on this project and the weeding, I did not get photos of every step.  But I think you can get an idea from the before and after photos.

Super Sprinkler Man Ron also had to dig up the valves and move them both up above ground.  He also added a water spicket so that we could attach a hose or fill a bucket with water.  Ron also added mulch and a stepping stone to make the area look real nice and function the best.  How great that is now that when I come to water the plants, all I have to do is drive up, jump out of the van, turn on one zone, and I can go back home for about 45 minutes, then come back and turn on the second zone and repeat the procedure.  THANKS RON!  One day we hope to have an automatic control, but this works fine for now.  I go over twice a week to water the plants and it is so quick and easy now.  Good thing we only live about 4 minutes from the Church!

 

Buying new plants to replace those that had died, or to lay out a whole new garden was the next step.  There was a grouping of plumbagos in the back between the 2 air conditioning units.  Now there seemed to be some tension about me pulling up those plumbagos.  I’m not really sure what the sentimentality of it all was, perhaps someone planted them many years ago, but they were not being tended to nor were they being watered (see sprinkler info above).  When I did try to get some kind of shaped to them, the limbs literally crumbled in my hands like freeze dried space food.

The Pastor was hoping to have a butterfly garden for the children.  Naturally I thought that the space between the 2 air conditioning units in the back of the church would be the perfect place for such a garden, since the children’s Sunday School building was right behind the church building, and this garden area was between the two.  Well I have to tell you there were many tense moments prior to me digging up those dead plumbagos, so I had to be sure I had enough plants to put in their place once they were gone and it all had to be done on the same day so that there was no blank spot in the garden.

Since it was the end of the season I was able to get some real bargains at the local home improvement store.  The church does not really have a budget item set aside for landscaping other than the grass mowing and edging.  So this was going to have to be donated plants.  I was able to find chrysanthemums, blue daze, and Boston ferns at 99 cents each!  Then I brought some lantana from my garden, bought some heather, azaleas, gardenias, and cape honeysuckle at regular price, and it all worked out quite well, if I do say so myself.  The Pastor’s wife Betty Jane also brought in a lot of plants from her garden, a type of lily with long fronds as well as mondo grass.

 

It’s amazing what a few new plants and about 100 bags of mulch will do for the garden!

 

We live in a rural community, and the little towns around here sometimes have a “city wide” yard sale.  I wanted some type of trellis to put the honeysuckle vine on to block the view of the A/C units, but the trellises I saw at garden shops were so expensive.  I went to one of these small town yard sales looking for a trellis.  Low and behold, the last booth that I came to at the very end of the yard sale area there was this metal head board and foot board, painted black with vining leaves on it for $15.  SOLD!  I brought them back, and even though they don’t cover up all the A/C units, once the honeysuckle vines begins to grow, hopefully you will notice the flowers and not the A/C units.

Since there is a large area of white clapboard behind the church, I thought if we had a red crepe myrtle tree in the center of the garden, when the red blooms were drooping down, I felt it would somewhat symbolizes Jesus’ hanging on the cross with his red blood.  I know that may or may not appeal to a lot of folks, but since this was a historic church, I thought symbolism might be the right thing to do.  Since it was the winter we have to wait for spring for a crepe myrtle, so in the meantime, I placed a bird feeder on a shepher’s hook and boy, the little birds and a family of Cardinals really like it!

Back Again After a Short Break

Dear Family, Friends, Subscribers, and Visitors,

I’ve been remiss in not posting very much since Thanksgiving of 2011, and I know you have wondered where the “Hot Flashes in the Pan” videos have been.  You will be glad to know that I will be focused more on bringing all types of new information, articles, videos, photos, and a whole new array of projects in 2012.  I took  a short hiatus to work over at my Church, tend to our business of forensic work, went through the holidays, preparing the taxes for the IRS submission, etc.

Featured on my blog will be some of the projects I worked on at the Church which can be applied to all other situations & locations, including your home.  My husband and I also put together a website for the church which I think is pretty phenomenal, if I do say so myself.  It’s a tiny little church, about 80 members, but you just can’t imagine all the things that this little congregation does and gets accomplished.  If you would like, please go to the site:  www.sanmateopresbyterianchurch.com and see all the events, activities, projects, and everything that this church does.  The previous church that we were members of has over 1,200 members, and they don’t do or accomplish anywhere near what our little San Mateo church accomplishes.  Hope you enjoy seeing our “little” church.

I thank you for your patience and understanding while I was away, and really appreciate you keeping up with my blog.  So get ready for a New Year, 2012 will be an fun, exciting, & beautiful time for us all!

Yours very truly,

Agnes

Shepherd in a Manger

Shepherd Dog in a Manger

Shepherd Dog in a Manger

 

Found on the Internet / Facebook:

A Nativity Scene was erected in a church yard.
During the night, someone came across this.
An abandoned dog was looking for a comfortable, protected place to sleep. He chose baby Jesus as his comfort.
No one had the heart to send him away so he was there all night.
We should all have the good sense of this dog and curl up in Jesus’ lap from time to time.
This is too sweet not to share.
No one mentioned that the dog breed is a “shepherd!”

Thanksgiving Day 2011

Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, the celebration of work and the simple life… a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedtime and harvest, the ripe product of the year – and the deep, deep connection of all these things with God.  Authors:  Ray Stannard Baker – David Grayson

VETERANS DAY – NOVEMBER 11, 2011

November 11, 2011 News of the Day No Comments

  

 

Veterans Day is a time to honor all those who have sacrificed

for something bigger than themselves:

the safety and freedom of America.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Holy Smoke, You’re Awesome Day!

From one gorgeous gal to another ……. Today is National ‘HOLY SMOKE, YOU’RE AWESOME’ Day!  Just thought you would enjoy some cute signs sent to me via email from a friend of ours.  It’s GREAT to be a woman, lady, and especially a “La-Di-Da Lady”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking Tip of the Day: Use Rubber Gloves

Whenever you are cooking with raw meet, particularly chicken, I find it easy and sanitary to use a pair of disposable gloves when handling the raw meat.  When you are finished with the raw meat, then you can take the gloves off, throw them in the trash, and continue cooking with your vegetables or whatever other ingredients are in your dish.  This will alleviate the cross-contamination of the meat, fish, or poultry juices with any of the rest of your ingredients.

I find that you can usually get the best price on these gloves at one of those big box stores.  They usually come in a double box pak, so they will last you a pretty long time.  I also use them when I’m cutting up onions, peppers, or any other type of food that I don’t want to smell up my hands, or get raw meat, poultry, or fish juices on.

You know, I have been doing this for years, and just the other day Nate Berkus has one of those “celebrity chefs” on his show doing a cooking lesson and she talked about this very same thing.  I thought GEEEZ, I’ve been doing that for years!  Maybe somehow she telepathically got my message (you never know!).

Cooking Tip of the Day: Adding Beans

If you want to increase the portion of a ground meat base that you are making, whether it’s beef, turkey, pork, etc. and do it economically and healthy, try adding some beans to the mixture.  You can use dry beans that you cooked, even left over cooked beans will work.  The easiest method for me is to add beans that are in the can already prepared.  You can used pinto, black bean, kidney beans, white beans, or whichever are your favorites.  If you don’t want to make your meat mixture more on the dry side, then be sure and drain the liquid from the can beans.  If you want to have a little “gravy” in your meat mixture, then leave the liquid and pour in the whole can.

By adding beans, you not only expand the dish to feed more people, which is great if you have a large family or are cooking for a family gathering or party, but you also add the healthy benefits of fiber and antioxidants from the beans.  It also add texture to your meat base.  Then you can use the meat base mixture for spaghetti sauce, tacos, enchiladas, meat pies, etc.

MIGHTY TASTY!

Cooking Tip of the Day: Be Creative with Herbs

Sweet Basil Blooming

Sweet Basil Blooming

Whether you have an herb garden, or if you buy herbs at the store, don’t be afraid to be creative with your herbs.  On my patio I have growing Sweet Basil, Rosemary, Oregano, Mint, and Sage.  Even though a recipe may call for one particular type of herb, let’s say you don’t have that type of herb, then use another type.  What I like to do is clip a sprig of each type of herb I have, wash it thoroughly, take off the leaves, and chop all the different types of herbs together.  You would be surprised the melody of flavors that come from preparing a meal that way.

One dish that I prepare uses the cod fish fillets that I get frozen at the big box store such as Costco.  After defrosting, I put the fillets in a small skillet (1 fillet per person usually) with a little bit of olive oil (about a teaspoon or so) and then I chop up a mixture of all my herbs and sprinkle the chopped herbs on top of the fish fillets and cover so the fish will steam cook for about 15 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and flaky when you use a fork.

Another great idea for the “herb mixture” is to make a salad using whatever type of garden greens you like.  I usually use a mixture of Romaine and Red Leaf lettuce, maybe some cucumber, carrots, celery, tomatoes, etc.  Then I add the “herb mixture” and toss it thoroughly.  Then try not using any salad dressing, maybe just a squirt of lemon or lime, maybe a small dash of olive oil.  You will be amazed at how flavorful your salad is.  You can taste all the individual herbs, your taste buds will thank you for such an aromatic explosion of flavors.  And you will save a lot of calories by not using a heavy, creamy salad dressing!  Try it once and you will change the way you have salads.

MIGHTY TASTY!

HOW TO READ BAR CODES – GOOD INFO

THIS INFORMATION CAME TO ME VIA AN EMAIL, BUT I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO VERIFY ITS AUTHENTICITY OR IF IT IS EVEN ACCURATE, BUT IT DOES BRING UP AN INTERESTING SUBJECT:

Bar Code

Bar Code

Let’s go for Made in America!!  ALWAYS READ THE LABELS ON THE FOODS YOU BUY–NO MATTER WHAT THE FRONT OF THE BOX OR PACKAGE SAYS, TURN IT OVER AND READ THE BACK–CAREFULLY!  With all the food and pet products now coming from China, it is best to make sure you read label at the grocery store and especially Walmart when buying food products.  Many products no longer show where they were made, only give where the distributor is located.  It is important to read the bar code to track it’s origin.

How to read Bar Codes …. interesting!  This may be useful to know when grocery shopping, if it’s a concern to you. GREAT WAY TO “BUY USA & CANADA ” AND NOT FROM CHINA!!  The whole world is concerned about China-made “black hearted goods”.  Can you differentiate which one is made in Taiwan or China?

If the first 3 digits of the barcode are 690, 691, or 692, the product is MADE IN CHINA.  471 is made in Taiwan.  This is our right to know, but the government and related departments never educate the public, therefore we have to educate ourselves.

Nowadays, Chinese businessmen know that consumers do not prefer products “Made In China” so they don’t show from which country it is made.  However, you may now refer to the bar code  — remember if the first 3 digits are:

690, 691, 692 — Made In China

00 – 09 — Made in the USA & Canada

30 – 37 — Made in France

40 – 44  — Made in Germany

471 — Made in Taiwan

49 — Made in Japan

50 — Made in the UK

Please buy USA and Canadian made by watching for “0” at the beginning of the number.  We need every boost we can get!  If the government won’t help us, we must help ourselves.

 

Tale of the Missing Socks

September 17, 2011 Critter Corner, Home Charms 1 Comment
Penelope Resting with her Socks & Toys

Penelope Resting with her Socks & Toys

My cat Penelope wears socks.  Yes, you heard correctly, socks.  She’s a little over 15 years old now and has arthritis in her back legs.  This causes her to be a little unsteady when using the litter box.  Sometimes, not always, but sometimes after she tinkles she looses her balance and steps in the clump of wet litter.

Before we discovered the “sock solution” she would get the clumping litter stuck on her foot, her fur, and between her toes.  Of course we were worried that she might lick the wet litter to clean herself and it would get clumped up in her stomach, but miraculously we did not see her do that.  She cleans herself everywhere else, but she did not seem to want to mess with that wet litter on her foot.

But of course we were also worried that the tinkle would infect her foot if we didn’t get it off right away.  So under the water spigot she would go, at least her foot would go, and of course she did not like that.  It was a two person job, myself and my husband, but if he wasn’t around, it was a real tough job to get that foot clean, but somehow we always prevailed.

One day an idea came to me to get baby socks and put them on her feet.  That way when a sock got soiled (she usually only soiled one at a time) we simply slipped it off and replaced it with a clean sock.  I measured her foot from toe to ankle, and then up her leg.  As luck would have it, Walmart had a package of cotton baby socks with the exact measurement!  A third of the package were white with little purple hearts, one third with purple stripes, and one third all purple.  It’s interesting that the heart socks fit perfectly, and the striped and purple socks seemed to be a bit larger, so they slip sometimes.  Therefore I try to keep the heart ones washed and ready to go.

Penelope's New Socks

Penelope's New Socks

Penelope took to them right away.  They didn’t seem to bother her, she didn’t try to shake them off, and she walks just the way she always has with them on.  Of course her walk is a little funny with that arthritis situation going on.

As I mentioned before, I try to use the heart ones, so after washing them I started to loose one at a time.  I knew how many I put in the washing machine, but when I took them out, one would be missing.  This happened 3 times.  I looked and looked, both in the washer and the dryer (they are both front loaders) and I couldn’t find where they could have been swallowed up by the washer.

After the loss of the 3rd sock, I realized that putting them loose in the washer was not going to work, and I didn’t want to loose any more of the heart socks because those are the ones that fit Penelope best.  Then I came across a small mesh zipper bag that I had in my hosiery drawer.  Since I don’t wear pantyhose very often anymore, I had completely forgotten about that little mesh bag.  Well, that did the trick.  By putting the little socks in the mesh bag, they would no longer get loose in the washer.  This is something ladies with babies might want to try also with their small washables, as I am sure you have probably found missing socks and so forth when they were put in loose into the washer.

The Socks the Washer Gobbled Up

The Socks the Washer Gobbled Up

One day a week or two back when I was pulling out the wash to put in the dryer, one of the socks fell on the floor, mingled in with the fresh wash.  Well it was totally gray with mold/mildew and we threw it in the trash.  But I looked again and the only place where there was an opening was where the water came out, and I couldn’t imagine how it would have gone in there.

Then today, after doing a load of towels, another sock fell to the floor, all grey with mold/mildew again.  This time I was determined to find where that missing sock came from.  I looked and looked then I leaned against the rubber casing that went around the outer rim of the door opening to the front loader.  I thought that rubber was attached to the metal housing that the drum fit into.  But it is NOT.  Upon pushing down further on the rubber gasket, I could see inside a rim that went around the drum housing, and there was the third sock!  Just lying there in all its glory!  Upon further inspection, I realize this must be some type of lint filter for the washer, as there was other fragments of lint mashed in along the side, which was easy to clean out, now that I know the rubber gasket opens up!  Of course we threw these two socks away also, since washing all the mildew might not all come out, and we wouldn’t want that to go onto Penelope’s feet.

So the moral of this story is, if you loose a small article of clothing in your front loading washer, then push down the rubber gasket around the door opening and look for that cavity below it, you might be surprised what you find.

Pets and the Joy They Bring

September 16, 2011 Critter Corner 1 Comment
Socks the Cat

Socks the Cat

Having a pet, be it a cat, dog, bird, fish, horse, pig, or whatever furry creature you relate to, is a positive and healthy experience.  Studies have proven that they can extend our lives, lower our blood pressure, and pretty much make us feel good all over because they give us unconditional love.

You may be surprised to learn that well over half of the United States households have at least one pet (studies show 63% or it may be even more).  A total of 75 million dogs and 85 million cats are owned in the United States (Cats Rule!)  And you can just imagine how many households around the world have not only one pet, but often times many more.

Studies have shown that pets help lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, reduce stress, fight depression, and lower health care costs for their owners.  It has been found that pet owners tend to have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-pet owners.  The service animals provide an invaluable service to their human companions by helping to give them independence, warn them of seizures, and give them comfort in light of their trying times and disabilities.

Pets also help their owners by providing them with a greater psychological stability.  A pet’s affection helps its owner when facing trauma or adversity, and help to foster a sense of total security.

Our Beloved Little Gracie

Our Beloved Little Gracie

When my mother-in-law’s health was failing, we had gotten her a cat whose name was Gracie Allen Burns, Gracie for short.  Gracie would lay next to my mother-in-law purring softly and gently nudging up against her for hours at a time.  Gracie brought her so much comfort and joy all the way up to the end of her time.  My father-in-law then gave Gracie to my husband and me, and we loved her so very much.  Sadly she developed a very aggressive type of cancer a few years later.  The vet gave her treatments to try and save her, but her little body just couldn’t fight all the aggression the disease took from her, and we lost her a short time later.

Many nursing home, assisted living and other such facilities are now allowing animals such as cats and dogs to live among their residents, as it gives them peace and comfort.

Have you ever read the book “Making Rounds with Oscar” by David Dosa, M.D.  It is the story of “the extraordinary gift of an ordinary cat” that was the resident of a nursing care / hospice facility.  Oscar brought much comfort to the residents and was always a friend when someone needed that extra purr.  The unusual thing about Oscar is that he knew when it was someone’s time to leave this earth and travel on to their heavenly place with God.  Oscar would go to the patient’s room and stay with that person until the end.  Many would think this would be a scary thing, having Oscar show up, but the families sited in the book said it brought them comfort knowing their loved one was not alone at that special time.

Sweet Penelope

Sweet Penelope

The companion of a pet usually helps people feel better about themselves, reducing feeling of stress, anxiety, and loneliness.  Pets also improve our health by promoting a more active lifestyle.  We not only receive the health benefits from walking or running with a pet (Most likely a dog, but I have seen people walking their cats on a leash.  Mine however would never cooperate with this effort, unless I carried them or rode them around in their stroller.  Yes, I did say their stroller).  We also put forth energy while we feed, groom, and care for our pets.  I know our cats certainly have my husband and myself trained very well in these efforts.

There is significant evidence that pets help develop stronger social skills in children.  Often, a child will turn to its pet for comfort in stressful situations.  Children usually speak to and interact with their pets, helping them develop the skills needed for interactions with other children.  Sharing in the necessary everday responsibilities of caring for a pet has proven to raise self-esteem and feelings of competence in children of all ages.

Take for instance all the work that is done with autistic children and other children that are disabled or are high risk individuals and horses and other farm animals.  There are many programs around the country that are very successful in bringing out the true love of a child and an animal, and the relationship they feel when being around and caring for that animal.  I saw a news article on TV the other night that focused on a group out west somewhere that took in abused horses, then they had children who had also been abused who came out and helped care for the horses.  It was a win-win situation in that both the horse and the child both felt better not only physically but emotionally as well.

Silly Yoda Cat

Silly Yoda Cat

There are so many animals, however, that are discarded like yesterday’s news.  And in a country as caring and helpful as we are, this should not be.  So if you are thinking of getting a pet of your own, or getting a furry friend for the pet or pets you already have, please consider adopting from a shelter.  There are many shelters out there:  all cities and towns would have a Humane Society shelter, and you can find many “no kill” shelters out there as well.  If you are looking for a specific breed, check the internet and there are breed rescue groups all over the country, just type in the breed you are looking for with animal rescue group.  This will lead you to several sites, many of which can pinpoint the rescue group in your area by simply typing in your zip code.  Also check your local pet store such as Petco and Pet Supermarket as they will typically be working with no kill shelters and rescue groups and have animal adoption days sometimes every Saturday, or at least once a month, and some even keep some of the animals available for adoption at their store full time.  So get on the internet and look to see what is most available to you, visit your local animal shelter or pet adoption event and find that perfect furry companion.  You will save a life of not only the animal, but quite possibly even your own.  You won’t regret it!

Can’t Afford a Porsche? Buy the $900 Jeans Instead

My husband is a big car buff, and for the past 45 + years he has worked in the automotive field in one way or another.  So he thought this would be an interesting article to pass along to my readers that I am reprinting from the internet that was written for USA Today by Chris Woodyard.  Enjoy!
 
Sep 08, 2011
By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY 

Always dream of owning a pair of Porsches? If that goal is a little out of your price range, than considering own a pair of the jeans instead.

Porsche Design specializes in jackets and jeans — but they don’t come cheap
 
Porsche Design is showing off its latest styles tonight at a swanky, invitation-only event at its boutique in Beverly Hills. A pair of Porsche jeans will run you $390 to $590 unless you want the “celebrity edition.” That will cost $900.

Of course, “Fashion’s Night Out” wouldn’t be complete without at least one celebrity. In this case, it’s Kaley Cuoco from TV’s Big Bang Theory.

Porsche Design’s fashion collection includes a new denim line. The label, which apparently has a dotted-line relationship to the famous German automaker, says its autumn/winter season 2011 is its most extensive ever as it expands into women’s wear, especially jeans. At $900 a copy, we’d expand, too.

Still, it’s cheaper than a Panamera.

Marineland, St. Augustine, FL

Marineland of Florida

From Wikipedia, the free enclyclopedia.
 
(We live about 45 minutes from this fascinating place, but have only recently had the opportunity to visit.  This article printed from Wikipedia tells about the history of the original Marineland.  No it is not the flashy Disney World mega attraction, but a quiet, peaceful retreat to see the beautiful dolphins and learn a lot about them as well as other sea creatures, a bit of “Old Florida”.  Marineland teaches conservation and educates the public on the world of the sea and the magnificent creatures that inhabit that part of our globe.  Hope you too get to visit one day.) 
This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (April 2008)
Marine Studios

Marineland of Florida is located in Florida

 

 

Location: Marineland, Florida
Coordinates: 29°40′6″N 81°12′46″W / 29.66833°N 81.21278°W / 29.66833; -81.21278Coordinates: 29°40′6″N 81°12′46″W / 29.66833°N 81.21278°W / 29.66833; -81.21278
Built: 1937[2]
Architect: John Walter Wood and M.F. Hasbrouch[2]
Architectural style: Moderne style[2]
Governing body: Georgia Aquarium
NRHP Reference#: 86000831[1]
Added to NRHP: 01986-04-14 April 14, 1986

Dolphin Show

Dolphin Show

Dolphin Show

Marineland of Florida (usually just called Marineland), one of Florida‘s first marine mammal parks, is billed as “the world’s first oceanarium“. Marineland functions as an entertainment and swim-with-the-dolphins facility, and re-opened to the public on March 4, 2006 (charging the original 1938 admission price of one dollar).

On the first day of 2011, the park was purchased by the Georgia Aquarium for a reported 9.1 million dollars.[3] The seller was Jim Jacoby, an Atlanta developer and member of the Georgia Aquarium board of directors, who bought the park in 2004 and redeveloped it.

History

Marineland was first conceived by W. Douglas Burden, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, Sherman Pratt and Ilya Tolstoy as an oceanarium that could be used to film marine life. A site was selected on the Atlantic Ocean south of St. Augustine, eventually known as the town of Marineland. The site of Marineland is within a 20,000-acre (81 km2) grant given to London barrister Levett Blackborne in 1767. The well-connected Blackborne, grandson of Sir Richard Levett, Lord Mayor of London, never settled his grant (nor even visited Florida), and eventually Blackborne’s plantation was regranted to John Graham, a Georgia Loyalist fleeing the Revolutionary War.[4] Ultimately, the land that is today Marineland was broken up over the years into smaller parcels.

Financing and construction presented challenges as Marineland was the first attempt at capturing and sustaining sea creatures. These challenges were overcome. Construction and engineering was carried out Arthur Franklin Perry Co. of Jacksonville. On June 23, 1938, “Marine Studios” (the name “Marineland of Florida” would later be adopted) began operations with its main attraction as a bottlenose dolphin. Unexpectedly, over 20,000 tourists clogged Highway A1A to visit the new attraction. For many decades Marineland consisted of not only the oceanariums but several amenities including a motel (Marine Village Court, Marineland Motel and Quality Inn/Marineland); Dolphin Restaurant and Moby Dick Lounge; Periwinkle Snack Bar and Sandpiper Snack Bar; Marineland Marina; plus fruit shop and gift shop; and a pier at the north end of the facility. A Texaco service station was adjacent to the Periwinkle Snack Bar and Greyhound Bus Lines stopped regularly during its St. Augustine to Daytona Beach run.

The total property area consisted of 125 acres sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. Originally planned for the St. Augustine area, residents of that community did not look favorably on the attraction being located there; thus the new site south of Matanzas Inlet was chosen.

Having the grandson of Leo Tolstoy involved in the project helped Marineland become a very fashionable destination in its early days, prompting writers Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, John Dos Passos, and Ernest Hemingway to visit Moby Dick’s Bar located there. Ms. Rawlings was married to Norton Baskin who at one time (1950s/early 1960s) was the operator/manager of the Dolphin Restaurant/Moby Dick Lounge. The park’s facilities were very popular with tourists and also used for numerous movies, including Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and Revenge of the Creature (1955). Trained dolphins became an additional attraction in the early 1950s as Marineland became one of Florida’s major attractions, attracting over 900,000 visitors per year with peak attendance in the mid-1970s The opening of Walt Disney World Resort in 1971 giving a major boost to the attraction’s annual attendance. However, Sea World’s entry into the Florida market eventually had a very negative impact on Marineland from the late 1970s through the 2009. Many publications unfortunately note the peak attendance at 300,000 which is erroneous. The break-even admission point was 400,000 even during the 1950s.

Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney who was the major stockholder of the private company opted to sell the marine park in the mid-1980s to a group of St. Augustine businessmen. With declining attendance the norm, the group was unable to meet its loan payments and the attraction was again put on the market. Ownership change was the norm from that point.

Eventually, the maintenance demands of the old park became too costly for the real estate investment group who owned it at that time. The facility began to sink into disrepair as the owners desperately sought a buyer. Finally, through a convoluted deal involving junk bonds, the property was sold. The buyers planned to build time-share condominiums on most of the ocean hammock land but were unable to bring the plan to fruition. This effort resulted in bankruptcy for the buyers. In addition, the already-strapped oceanarium had been reconfigured as a non-profit foundation as part of the sale and was responsible for its own sustenance as well as repayment of the bond issue. Needed monies were not invested in repairs, and the shabby condition of the park offended even the most loyal fans. With no direct ownership, no funding, and the financial burden of bond interest payments, employees were left to cope with equipment failures, no marketing, loss of credit, bounced paychecks, government inspections and the custodianship of the marine mammals, fish and birds. During this era, many devoted individuals and businesses contributed materials and services to help employees keep the place going. In the end, the foundation repaid the bondholders pennies on the dollar, a large part of Marineland’s dolphin population was sold off to Orlando, and the current owner came in and picked up the pieces.

Hurricanes Floyd and Irene in 1999 forced the park to close for two months. In 2003, all of the park buildings west of Highway A1A were demolished leaving only the original structures along the Atlantic Ocean. In 2004, the park closed completely for renovations, and re-opened on March 4, 2006.

During the renovations the original 1938 Circular Oceanarium (400,000 gallons) and Rectangular Oceanarium (450,000 gallons) were demolished. The age of the Dolphin Show at Marineland is now over as the park reopened as a hands on educational facility. Future plans for the area include a condo development on former park lands. The rest of the old Marineland property wound up in the hands of Flagler County and now make up the River to the Sea Preserve one of the County’s many parks.

With a gift from Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney of slightly more than 3 acres (1.2 ha) of land together his donation of about half of the total constructions costs, on January 30, 1974, the University of Florida opened the Whitney Marine Laboratory adjacent to Marineland. This laboratory’s purpose was the experimental study of marine animals but was separate from the lab that was once operated by Marineland. Marine Studios through its Research Facility contributed greatly to the understanding of porpoises from 1938 thanks to Arthur McBride, Forrest Woods and other marine biologists. The staff at Marineland was a “first responder” for hundreds of whale strandings along the southeastern Atlantic Coast during its existence.

Marineland had three bottlenose dolphins born at the newly constructed Dolphin Conservation center in July 2008. Two of them were males and one was female. The calves were named in November 2008.

In January 2011, Marineland was sold yet again and is currently being operated as a subsidiary of the Georgia Aquarium.

References

  1. ^ “National Register of Historical Places – Florida (Fla.), Flagler County”. National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 1986. http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/FL/Flagler/state.html. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c “Marine Studios”. Florida Heritage Tourism Interactive Catalog. Florida’s Office of Cultural and Historical Programs. http://www.flheritage.com/services/sites/fht/record_t.cfm?ID=272&type=c&index=18. Retrieved 17 August 2007. [dead link]
  3. ^ Ruggieri, Melissa (3 January 2011). “Georgia Aquarium buys Florida’s Marineland”. ajc.com. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. http://www.ajc.com/business/georgia-aquarium-buys-floridas-794147.html. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  4. ^ “Town of Marineland Sustainable Tourism Comprehensive Plan Element”. law.ufl.edu. University of Florida Conservation Clinic. http://www.law.ufl.edu/conservation/pdf/marineland.pdf. Retrieved 4 January 2010.

Breakfast on the River

Here are some photos of the assortment of water birds that come for breakfast in the morning on the dock.

 

 

 

 

Pet Parade in Palatka!

Oh Boy, lots of things that I like!

Oh Boy, lots of things that I like!

Only in Palatka would you expect to see a Pet Parade inside a Tractor Supply store!

Oh Boy, a bag full of goodies!

Oh Boy, a bag full of goodies!

OK, you've been a good girl!

OK, you've been a good girl!

Can I have that please Momma?

Can I have that please Momma?

When my husband and I arrived at the Humane Society of Northeast Florida Pet Event this past Saturday, we knew there was to be a Pet Parade.  We saw several dogs and puppies, and one goat dressed as a ballerina.  We also saw 2 magnificent horses giving folks a ride down a tree-lined shady grassy area, as it was extremely hot that day. 

Imagine our surprise when the parade coordinator started to line up the animals and the 2 horses got right into place, the beautiful paint leading the parade, and the wonderful brown bringing up the rear (pardon the pun).  The goat was second in the procession, prancing proudly in her pink tutu outfit.  The puppies and dogs followed.  The parade entered the store and proceeded down the right hand main aisle all the way back to the rear of the store, went over a couple of aisles and returned back to the front by the left hand main aisle.  It was a real treat for those who came to see the event, and for the shoppers that were in for a big surprise to be shopping along side a horse!  The paint really seemed to be in her element leading the parade, the brown however looked a bit aprhensive about what all the hoopla was about.

Anniversary for Socks the Cat

August 7, 2011 Critter Corner No Comments

Today, August 7th, 2011, marks the 1 year anniversary since we lost our beloved cat Socks.  In his memory, I am posting his obit (which I don’t think I did last year) so that you can see what a special little guy he was:

“Socks” – A Barnyard Cat Who Came Into Our Hearts Forever

Here's Looking at You Kid

Here's Looking at You Kid

Socks was born in 1998 or 1999 and crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on August 7, 2010. He was 11-12 years old, as best we can figure. Socks has been with us since May 2003. Socks was a beautiful, energetic, and attention getting male Maine Coon cat; tabby & white with 4 white paws, hence the name “Socks”. We refer to him as the “Ultimate Fluffball”. His siblings/friends are Penelope (15 year old Maine Coon) and Yoda (black cat about same age as Socks, who came with him from Missouri via way of Texas).

Socks has lived in Missouri, Texas, South Florida, Central Florida, Louisiana, then back to North Florida. Socks was the barn yard cat of a friend of ours uncle in Missouri. When our friend adopted Socks, he moved to Texas, then to Florida. Our friend lived with us for several months while he was getting situated with a job and place to live in Florida. He brought Socks & Yoda along, and of course we fell in love with them both immediately.  We had recently lost Gracie, the half-sister of Penelope to cancer, so Socks

A Little to the Left Bob

A Little to the Left Bob

and Yoda helped to fill the emptiness in our hearts. When our friend moved to a small condo and accepted a job that entailed a lot of travel, he asked us to “baby sit” Socks & Yoda. After 2 years, he said the cats were officially ours and of course, we agreed!

We moved to Louisiana temporarily for a few months in 2009, and of course, all our kitties came with us. Then it was back to Florida.

Socks liked to ride in the car and check out everyone in the cars that passed by. He also liked to look at the birds and the sky as it passed by in an ever changing view for him.

We used to live at a private airport community and Socks loved to go for a ride in the kitty stroller on the taxiways to watch the dogs, cats, birds, people, and planes. He also liked to ride in the golf cart and the electric Think car. His favorite place was on the dashboard

Socks in a Majestic Pose

Socks in a Majestic Pose

with a big fluffy towel as padding. That way he got the full panoramic view, and we would sit next to the runway and watch the planes take off and land. He seemed to wonder how the planes could do that. He enjoyed smiling at the other people and dogs & cats in the other golf carts.

 

Socks has eaten a diet of Hill’s Science Diet since we had him, a mixture of Hairball Control, Oral Care, Sensitive Skin, and Sensitive Stomach. At the end of his time on earth, he had moved “upscale” and liked grilled tilapia and salmon.

Socks’ favorite napping place was a white sheepskin rug in the living room in the evening when we watched TV. That way he could nap, but yet keep his little eyes cracked open to be sure he didn’t miss anything. He prepared his sleeping spot by

Socks Says "Welcome"

Socks Says "Welcome"

“kneading biscuits” to get his spot in the center “just right”.

Socks loved to help us in the office. We are self employed and work from home. We each have office space in our home, and Socks takes turns with each of us sitting at the computer, on the desk, or in a chair nearby, although he seems to favor Bob’s desk as he has more monitors and keyboards to be intrigued by and lay up against. He does like to go out on the screen porch or patio, but he seems to find as his primary responsibility to help in the office instead.

We used to live in a home with a separate 2 story hangar building on the property where we had our offices. In the morning we would say “time to go to work” and he would bolt out the patio door, hop across the patio, and wait for us to open the office door. He would always beat us there. No lizard or squirrel could side track him from his self appointed

Socks Ready to Work

Socks Ready to Work

duties. He would catapult up the stairs, stop at the landing midway, look to see if you were giving him an audience, then catapult himself up the remaining set of stairs. When we were done for the day, we would just say “Socks, time to close the office” and he would get down from where ever he was perched and hop down the stairs, hippity-hop across the patio and into the house ready for dinner. For some reason, maybe because of his size, he would hop like a bunny rather than run like a cheetah. I think we will remember him most for that.

When he sat on Agnes’ desk, there was a different configuration. So he would sit along side her atop the desk and rest his paw on her arm, as if he was guiding her typing on the keyboard.

 

Socks Thinks He's Invisible

Socks Thinks He's Invisible

His favorite toy is the Cosmic Country Catnip pouch. He loved to lay on top of the Cosmic Catnip when he was “off duty” and not at work.

Out of all the cats we have had over the years, Socks had the most vibrant personality of them all, almost human-like. Where our other cats chose to sleep most of the day, Socks would be awake, following us around and helping in the office. At lunch or dinner he would quietly sit in the chair between us waiting for his opportunity to go back to work or watch TV. He liked to watch the Nascar and Indy race cars, not just watch but he got involved with the race.

Another quirk Socks had was he liked to see his reflection. He knew he was special. We had a stove with a black glass oven front that he would sit at for long periods looking at his handsome reflection. And chasing sunbeams was another pleasure of his. We had sheer curtains that would flutter with the breeze and would make the sunbeams dance

Socks Guarding His Turf

Socks Guarding His Turf

on the floor. He tried his best to catch them, and when he thought he had one, he would lay down, proud of his capture.

Another place he liked to help was in the bathroom, whether you were taking a shower or taking care of your private business. It simply did not matter what you were doing, he would be there to supervise.

We love him and will miss him dearly. Even though he did not make a lot of noise meowing and such, he had a huge presence with a dynamic and magnetic personality. His absence has left a huge void and a silence in the house that only his warmth and charm could fill.

He is at peace now, no longer in pain, and no longer having to take his medications which he was not happy about. He is at peace in Kitty Heaven, and getting to know his

Socks Waiting for Santa

Socks Waiting for Santa

“sister” Gracie.

We love him so much and will miss him forever.

“Polish” Stuffed Bell Peppers – Episode 4

August 3, 2011 Recipe Roundup No Comments

“HOT FLASHES IN THE PAN” Video Series:  This is one of my favorite dishes to prepare using the Ground Meat Base Mixture that we prepared in a previous video (Episode 3, Parts 1 & 2).  So if you missed it, be sure and go back to view it.  There is no Polish sausage in it unless, that is, you added some Polish sausage in the Ground Meat Base Mixture when preparing it before.  It’s just that I am Polish, so everything I cook I like to call it “Polish This” or “Polish That”.  It keeps my guests on their toes, thinking I have used some “secret” Polish ingredient, or used some special Polish way of cooking.  Well, I guess it is my special way of Polish cooking.  So be ready for a really delicious meal when you prepare these stuffed bell peppers.  And you can prepare as many or as few as you want at the time.  If you prepare extra, then you can freeze them in individual freezer storage bags and simply take out for a quick meal when you are pressed for time.  MIGHTY TASTY!

End of an Era – Final Space Shuttle Flights

Night Space-Shuttle-Launch Photo from the Internet

Night Space-Shuttle-Launch Photo from the Internet

As you all know by now, the Space Shuttle has had its last flight, that is unless something changes in the future.  Thousands of people have lost their jobs, and business that supported the space program have had to close down.  And an era that most of us grew up with is now over.  I grew up in Houston, and when I was older I lived for several years in a neighborhood directly across from the main entrance of the Johnson Space Center in TX.  In high school, many of my classmates’ parents worked for NASA, since we were located in the south part of Houston, not far from the Space Center.  Most of us can remember where we were and what we were doing when the astronauts landed on the moon, just as we can remember where we were and what we were doing with John F. Kennedy was shot.

Now living in FL for the past 25 years, we were fortunate to see several of the shuttle launches, one at night from the Kennedy Space Center itself, a once in a lifetime experience.  Later on, we lived about 40 miles from the Space Center, and could see the launches from our home after the Shuttle cleared the tree line, then it flew towards our home’s direction, and on a clear day we could actually see the solid rocket boosters separate.  Last year, we moved a bit further north, so the drive down to the Space Center area was about 1 1/2 hours, but it was worth it.  The 2nd to the last Shuttle launch, Endeavor, we actually were in Titusville, sitting on the shore of the bay directly across from the launch pads.  Unfortunately due to the cloud cover rolling in, you could only see the launch for 22 seconds, but what a magnificent 22 seconds it was.

Endeavor Final Launch 05 16 11

Endeavor Final Launch 05 16 11

We braved the crowds for the last Atlantis launch, but this time we did not go as far as Titusville, due to the constant local news coverage telling us what a gridlock situation it was there.  Instead we opted for a small town just to the north that had a lovely park right on the waterway that goes past the Kennedy Space Center.  So we had a great view, although from a bit of a distance, but it meant so much to us to see history being made.  The Shuttle cleared the tower, and we could see the flame trail once it cleared the rooftops.  Again, the cloud cover cut our viewing time short, but just to know that we saw that magnificent sight one more time was awe inspiring.

I have included some photos here, some that we took ourselves and some that came off the internet.  Also, here is a link to the LA Times that had an article with a fantastic photo of re-entry taken from the International Space Station http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2011/07/atlantis-return-from-space-nasa-rick-perry-.html .  Also in this article from the LA Times, be sure and scroll down to the bottom of the page for a link to a YouTube video that someone took from Cancun in the early morning darkness of the Shuttle streaking across the sky heading home one last time.

If you have an interest in the Space Program, NASA, and the Space Shuttle program, you will want to visit the NASA website at www.nasa.orgwhere you will find a wealth of information, amazing photos and videos for you and your children to see and learn about.  Also, if you are ever in FL you may want to take a side trip to the Kennedy Space Center for the tour.  However, now that the Shuttle program is over, I’m not sure how it will affect the visitor tours, so you best check their website or call ahead.  We had been out there several times, and it truly is a wonderful and informational trip for young and old alike.

Atlantis Final Launch 07 08 11

Atlantis Final Launch 07 08 11

Now you can visit the Shuttle at museums around the country.  The most impressive air museum we have been to is the Smithsonian Air Museum located at Dulles airport just outside of Washington, D.C. 

So we bid farewell to the Space Shuttle program and wonder what will the future hold.  Will America step up to the plate to be the best in the quest for space exploration?  Where will future generations take us?  To galaxies beyond our current comprehension?  Will space travel one day be as common for the every day citizen like traveling across the US or across the globe to foreign countries that we do today?  Whatever the future holds for us, I don’t think it could ever be replace by those first trips in a rocket:  Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle program and the first 7 astronauts that had the “Right Stuff” to be brave enough to be those first pioneers to venture into space, a place that once was only in our dreams and fantasies.

The Lady with 700 Cats

July 30, 2011 Critter Corner No Comments


by Diane Herbst

the lady with 700 cats Cat House on the Kings is a very special and unique no-kill cat rescue/clinic/retirement home for cats in California. So you shouldn’t miss National Geographic’s special about it and the woman who behind it all called The Lady with 700 Cats. “I’m not crazy. What I do is crazy,” says Lynea Lattanzio, Cat House on the Kings’ founder.

The Lady with 700 Cats Cat House on the Kings special will air on Nat Geo Wild (NGW) at 10 p.m. ET on July 30.

Tune in and watch this amazing story.  For more information and to watch the amazing video clip please go to this link:  http://halopets.com/freekibble/donation18.php

Ground Meat Base Mixture – Episode 3, Part 2

July 30, 2011 Recipe Roundup No Comments

“HOT FLASHES IN THE PAN” Video Series:  This is a short video that is a continuation of the Ground Meat Base Mixture that we started in Episode 3, Part 1.  This takes you through the final part after the meat has cooked and cooled down to room temperature where you can then place it in freezer storage bags to be used at a later time for quick, easy, and nutritional meals for your family.  Be sure and come back often to see the other recipes we have planned using this basice ground meat mixture as a base.  MIGHTY TASTY!

Basic Recipe for Ground Meat Base Mixture:

  • 3 lbs. ground sirloin (you can use ground white meat turkey, ground turkey meat, or any other ground meat to your liking)
  • 1 large sweet Vidalia onion (or other variety to your liking), chopped or diced
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced (or you can use the jar minced garlic) add as much or as little to your liking
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • Season to your liking:
  • Mrs. Dash (we don’t use salt, so use the original or any other flavor of Mrs. Dash, or you can use salt)
  • fresh ground pepper, season to your taste

For extra fiber, texture, and to make this dish go farther you can add:

  • 1 – 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 – 15 oz can red kidney beans (you can substitute any other type can bean to your liking)
  • 1 small container of fresh sliced mushrooms (I prefer the Baby Bella variety) or you can use the mushrooms in a jar

Brown meat in large skillet with first 8 ingredients (through the fresh ground pepper).  Continue to cook until all ingredients are cooked through.  I prefer to wait till the meat is cooked through before adding the canned beans and mushrooms then cook a few minutes more 10-15.  If you are cooking for a crowd, you can use larger quantities of all ingredients, just add proportionately. 

La-Di-Da Ladies Serving Suggestion:

You can use this base right away for a base for spaghetti sauce, tacos, enchiladas, chili, etc.  I divide the meat mixture in four parts, freezing in quart size zip-lock type bags for use later as a quick meal base for spaghetti sauce, tacos, enchiladas, chili, etc.  This can really stretch your food budget.

Ground Meat Base Mixture – Episode 3, Part 1

July 30, 2011 Recipe Roundup No Comments

“HOT FLASHES IN THE PAN” Video Series:  This is a very informational video on how I make my ground meat base mixture that I can then use just as it is or as a base for countless other dishes:  spaghetti sauce, tacos, enchiladas, Shepherd’s Pie, stuffed bell peppers, Sloppy Joe’s, and many, many more.  You make a big batch at one time, you can all sorts of beans and/or other vegetables, and then freeze it in smaller freezer storage bags so that when you come home from a long day at work, you can prepare dinner for your family in short order.  So be sure and come back often as I will be featuring my other recipes that will use this base ground meat mixture that will make your meals MIGHTY TASTY!

Basic Recipe for Ground Meat Base Mixture:

  • 3 lbs. ground sirloin (you can use ground white meat turkey, ground turkey meat, or any other ground meat to your liking)
  • 1 large sweet Vidalia onion (or other variety to your liking), chopped or diced
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced (or you can use the jar minced garlic) add as much or as little to your liking
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • Season to your liking:
  • Mrs. Dash (we don’t use salt, so use the original or any other flavor of Mrs. Dash, or you can use salt)
  • fresh ground pepper, season to your taste

For extra fiber, texture, and to make this dish go farther you can add:

  • 1 – 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 – 15 oz can red kidney beans (you can substitute any other type can bean to your liking)
  • 1 small container of fresh sliced mushrooms (I prefer the Baby Bella variety) or you can use the mushrooms in a jar

Brown meat in large skillet with first 8 ingredients (through the fresh ground pepper).  Continue to cook until all ingredients are cooked through.  I prefer to wait till the meat is cooked through before adding the canned beans and mushrooms then cook a few minutes more 10-15.  If you are cooking for a crowd, you can use larger quantities of all ingredients, just add proportionately. 

La-Di-Da Ladies Serving Suggestion:

You can use this base right away for a base for spaghetti sauce, tacos, enchiladas, chili, etc.  I divide the meat mixture in four parts, freezing in quart size zip-lock type bags for use later as a quick meal base for spaghetti sauce, tacos, enchiladas, chili, etc.  This can really stretch your food budget.

Onions, Chopping & Freezing – Episode 2, Part 2

July 29, 2011 Recipe Roundup No Comments

“HOT FLASHES IN THE PAN” Video Series:  This video is a continuation of Episode 2, Part 1.  Again, I got a little long winded talking about onions and all the things you can do with them, and I probably rambled on about whatever else was on my mind.  So this video finishes up the process of getting your chopped onions ready to freeze and enjoy with your meals that you will be making very soon.  MIGHTY TASTY!

Onions, Chopping & Freezing – Episode 2, Part 1

July 29, 2011 Recipe Roundup No Comments

“HOT FLASHES IN THE PAN” Video Series:  This video will show you the basics on chopping up onions and getting them ready to freeze in freezer storage bags so that you can easily and quickly use them in future meals.  When you buy onions in bulk, like a big netted bag, you can usually save money on a bulk price rather than buying them individually by the pound.  But unless you like to eat a lot of onions daily, you need to somehow store them so that they don’t go bad on you.  Now onions typically will last pretty long, longer than most other vegetables, but they will eventually go bad if you don’t eat them.  Also, if you are preparing a meal after a hard day of work, sometimes you don’t want to take the extra time it takes to chop up that onion to put into the dish you are preparing.  By having your onions pre-chopped in storage bags, you can take out as little or as much as you need for your recipe, and you will save time and a little bit of stress by doing it this way, and your meals will be MIGHTY TASTY!

Quirky & Interesting Places to Visit

Sailboat Race on the St. John's River
Sailboat Race on the St. John’s River

We are preparing a section to tell you about some of the “quirky” places around where we live that are fun, unusual, beautiful, meaningful, or just plain quirky.  Living in a small rural town in NE Florida, there is a lot of “Old Florida” still here, and we want to share that with you.

Coming soon:  Tours, videos, and articles about area places of interest. These would include an herb farm, hydrophonic farms, plant nurseries, wineries, and more. Look for new places to visit and learn about in the upcoming future. Stay tuned for some exciting items in this section!

Life on the River

July 28, 2011 River Life No Comments
Life on the River
Pink Sunset on the River

Pink Sunset on the RiverSunset on the River with the Dock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset on the River with the  Dock

Sunset on the River with the Dock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Sunset with a Single Rain Cloud from an Approaching Storm

Sunset with a Single Rain Cloud from an Approaching Storm

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Golden Sky Over the River at Sunset

Golden Sky Over the River at Sunset

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The River During a Storm

The River During a Storm

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Life just doesn’t get any better than this!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Florida State Panther

July 28, 2011 Critter Corner No Comments
Florida Panther

The official state animal for Florida is the Florida Panther.  The following information is from the Florida Division of Historical Resources website:

The most endangered of all Florida’s symbols is its state animal, the panther (Felis concolor coryi) which was chosen in 1982 by a vote of students throughout the state.

The Florida Panther is a large, long-tailed, pale brown cat that grows to six feet or longer. Its habitat is usually the same as that of the white-tailed deer, which is the mainstay of its diet.

Much folklore surrounds these seldom-seen cats, sometimes called “catamounts” or “painters,” and they have been persecuted out of fear and misunderstanding of the role these large predators play in the natural ecosystem. Human population growth has been the primary threat to the panther’s range and continues to diminish the quality of existing habitats.

The Panther has been protected from legal hunting in Florida since 1958. It has been on the federal endangered species list since 1967 and on the state’s endangered list since 1973. The future of this large animal depends entirely on the management decisions that are made today on its behalf. The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission is responsible for management and preservation of this endangered State Animal, but only with your support will the Florida Panther remain a part of our unique wildlife community.

Ice Blue Wedding Tabletop

July 28, 2011 Art of Dining No Comments

Ice Blue Wedding

Another beautiful tabletop designed for the Daytona Beach Symphony Guild Art of Dining event.  This design was from either a department store or an interior design group, I don’t remember which.  The vase of branches had votive candles hanging from soft ice blue sheer ribbons.

Bell Pepper Preparation – Episode 1, Part 2

July 28, 2011 Recipe Roundup No Comments

“HOT FLASHES IN THE PAN” Video Series:  This video is a continuation of Bell Peppers Part 1.  When making these first videos, we forgot to check with YouTube to find out that your videos couldn’t be longer than 15 minutes.  Ooops!  Well I went a little longer, but I thought the information was very practical, so I wanted to leave it all in.  So please enjoy the second half of the bell pepper preparation video, and you will be ready to prepare some great meals!  MIGHTY TASTY!

Bell Pepper Preparation – Episode 1, Part 1

July 27, 2011 Recipe Roundup No Comments

 

“HOT FLASHES IN THE PAN” Video Series:  This video is a first in our cooking video series “Hot Flashes in the Pan”.  In this video, we are chopping up bell peppers getting them ready to freeze in freezer storage bags to use with meals prepared at a later date.  By chopping up your bulk vegetables after you purchase them then freezing them in smaller packages:  1) you save them from going bad before you have had time to use them; and 2) you save time in preparing your future meals, because the vegetables are all ready for you to use.  Be sure and check out Part 2 of this episode where we will prepare the bell peppers for freezing.  Hope you enjoy our cooking video series, and be sure and tune back in for future episodes!  MIGHTY TASTY!

Meat Nutrition Variations at the Supermarket

July 27, 2011 Recipe Roundup No Comments

On my recent trip to the grocery market, I decided to take Dr. Oz’s advice and really look at the labels of the products I was buying, in particular the meat.  As I was preparing to purchase meat for my ground meat mixture recipe, here is what I found at the local national chain market.

The following information is based on 4 oz. servings:

Beef Category:

Lean Ground Meat (The butcher there could not identify if it was ground sirloin or what cut of meat it was, he just said “lean meat”.  OK then.)  This was 140 calories, 4.5 grams of fat 2 of which were saturated, at 31.1 cents per ounce.

Ground Round was an 85/15 lean meat to fat mixture, 230 calories, 17 grams of fat 7 of which were saturated, at 22.2 cents per ounce.

Red Meat was a 73/27 lean meat to fat mixture (Again, the cut of meat that was included was not labeled, just that it was “red meat”.)  This was 350 calories, 30 grams of fat 12 of which were saturated, at 16.3 cents per ounce.

Turkey Category (this really suprised me):

Ground Turkey labeled as 85/15 lean meat to fat mixture was 240 calories, 17 grams of fat 5 of which were saturated, at 13 cents per ounce.

White Meat Ground Turkey was 140 calories, 3 grams of fat 1 of which were saturated, at 23.1 cents per ounce.

So it is true what they say “you pay a little more but you get healthier food” which in turn hopefully will help you spend less money at the doctors by eating a healthier diet with less fat and more lean protein.

LaDiDa Ladies Back with New Features!

Orange Supreme Heart Cake

Hello Friends,

It’s been a while since I posted any new information.  I’ve been on hiatus from the blog, but I am back with what I hope will be some new and exciting features for you.

The most exciting of which is a series of videos on cooking, I’m calling it “Hot Flashes in the Pan”.  Now I don’t profess to be an expert chef or anything close to it.  But my friends tell me I am a pretty good cook, and that I do try to make dishes that are simple, easy and budget friendly.  I don’t use any exotic ingredients that you have to shop at specialty stores for.  And I try to incorporate lots of shortcuts so that healthy and great tasting meals can be put together quickly and easily, especially after a hard day of work.  “Mighty Tasty”!

I have the first video posted now and look for many more to follow.  These videos will also be posted on YouTube.

So get ready for an exciting, fun and informational time on LaDiDaLadies.com

See you back here real soon!

Fresh Peaches – Slicing, Storing, & Freezing – Episode 5 in a Series

July 21, 2011 Recipe Roundup No Comments

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E0A2maWVS4

“HOT FLASHES IN THE PAN” Video Series:  This video will show you how to slice fresh peaches and get them ready to freeze in storage freezer bags so that you can use them all through the season and beyond.  As you know, when you buy fresh fruit, you typically have to eat it pretty fast before it goes bad on you.  If that happens, and the fruit goes bad, then you have wasted your money and missed out on some delicious fruit dishes.  You can buy fruit more economically if you can buy in bulk, as from a farmer’s market or fruit/produce stand, but unless you plan on baking a lot of peach pies right away, this method helps you to preserve the fruit so you can enjoy it at a later time.  Now the texture and appearance will be slightly different after you thaw the fruit out, and you will have a lot of fruit juice along with it, but it will still be MIGHTY TASTY!

Victory Gardens Return to Popularity

March 13, 2010 Garden Gazebo No Comments

War GardensWith the tough economic times we are facing right now, families are looking for ways to stretch their food budget dollar.  A good way to do that is to look back in time around the World War I era, when “Victory Gardens” became popular.  Community and family gardens were planted anywhere a small patch of land could be found:  yards, city parks, public lands, and even railroad rights of way (this could pose a challenge when tending your garden).  These gardens were planted by families as well as for community cooperatives.

During World War II, the Victory Garden emerged again.  Due to the rationing of food products, the Department of Agriculture informed citizens that if they wanted fresh fruits or vegetables, they should plant Victory Gardens.  Americans took hold of the suggestion, and immediately started to grow vegetable gardens.  It is noted in some accounts that Victory Gardens produced around 40 percent of the nation’s produce.  Can you imagine that?  Now we get our fruits and vegetables from all over the world, shipped in various forms of transportation, burning whatever fuel it takes to get those fruits and vegetable here.

With the economic downturn, wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the effects of global warming and our carbon footprint, protecting the environment, concerns over food safety, and wanting better tasting food, folks are looking into the Victory Gardens once more.  Community gardens are great, especially in the inner city, as they encourage social interaction and self-reliance, beautify neighborhoods, produce nutritious and good tasting food, help families with their food budget, and as a side benefit offer recreation, exercise, education, and therapy for some. … Continue Reading

All God’s Creatures, Great and Small

February 8, 2010 Critter Corner No Comments

This article came to me from several of my friends who have pets.  It has been circulated around the internet several times, and the Author is Unknown.  If only we humans could learn from our animal friends how to be so compassionate.  Enjoy!

A True Story.

In 2003, police in Warwickshire, England, opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog.  The dog had been locked in the shed and abandoned..  It was dirty and malnourished, and had quite clearly been abused.  In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a female greyhound, to the Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, which is run by a man named Geoff Grewcock, and known as a haven for animals abandoned, orphaned, or otherwise in need.Jasmine Greyhound 1

Geoff and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust.  It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved.  They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.  Jasmine, however, had other ideas.  No one quite remembers how it came about, but Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary.  It would not matter if it were a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or, any other lost or hurting animal.  Jasmine would just peer into the box or cage and, when and where possible, deliver a welcoming lick..

Geoff relates one of the early incidents.  “We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line.  One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross.  They were tiny when they arrived at the centre, and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee.  Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them.”Jasmine Greyhound 3

“But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits.  She takes all the stress out of them, and it helps them to not only feel close to her, but to settle into their new surroundings.  She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs, and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose.” Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary’s resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born.  The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, fifteen chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and fifteen rabbits – and one roe deer fawn.Jasmine Greyhound 4Jasmine Greyhound 5

Tiny Bramble, eleven weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field..  Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm, and then went into the full foster-mum role.  Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the roe deer with affection, and makes sure nothing is matted.  “They are inseparable,” says Geoff.  “Bramble walks between her legs, and they keep kissing each other.  They walk together round the sanctuary.  It’s a real treat to see them.”  Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life.  When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely.  She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse.

Pictured from the left are: “Toby”, a stray Lakeland dog; “Bramble”, orphaned roe deer; “Buster”, a stray Jack Russell; a dumped rabbit; “Sky”, an injured barn owl; and “Jasmine”, with a mother’s heart doing best what a caring mother would do…and such is the order of God’s Creation. And, just in case you wondered, Snopes.com has verified the truth of this wonderful story and the reality of these photographs which accompany the story – so you can pass this story on, and help make someone else’s day to be just a little brighter!Jasmine Greyhound 6

Wedding Sentiments Tabletop Design

February 3, 2010 Art of Dining No Comments

Wedding Wishes Table“Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue” is the theme of this beautiful tabletop designed for the Daytona Beach Symphony Guild Art of Dining event.  Each of the 4 settings relates to each of the four good luck sayings that brides have, and a different china and flatware setting was used for each saying.  There is a massive centerpiece made like a wedding gift, with a floral arrangement of hydrangeas coming out of the top.  Of course, for practical reasons, the centerpiece is not functional for a real life seating of guests, as they would not be able to see across the table at each other for conversation.  In real world, the box and flowers would have to be adjusted in height, and/or adjusted as well as set up on a narrow pillar, as not to block the guests view.

A ribbon with each of the sayings painted on is streaming out of the gift box towards each place setting.  Each china, flatware, and crystal pattern is different, denoting the “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue”.  Additional adornments include an framed wedding photo from the bride’s mother from the 50’s.  An alternative would be to place a photo of each of the bride and groom’s parents and grand- parents at the different alternating place settings.

Wedding - Something Old

"Something Old"

Wedding - Something New

"Something New"

Wedding - Something Borrowed

"Something Borrowed"

Wedding - Something Blue

"Something Blue"

Truly Decadent Fudge Cake

February 1, 2010 Recipe Roundup No Comments

Fudge CakeCake Recipe:

  • 2  1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2  1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp. baking soda … Continue Reading

Judi’s Delectable Cajun Shrimp Gumbo

January 30, 2010 Recipe Roundup No Comments

Shrimp GumboThis recipe was given to me by a friend, which was passed down from her family, and each member adding their own twist and enhancement.  Enjoy!

  • 1 jar (16 oz) Kary’s Roux
  • 3 medium onions – chopped fine
  • 1 bunch green onions – chopped fine
  • 1/4 – 3/4 cup bell pepper – chopped fine
  • 2 cans Swanson’s Chicken Broth
  • 2 cans Trappey’s Okra & Tomato gumbo
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp red pepper
  • 3 – 4 pinches chopped parsley
  • 1/2 – 3/4 lb. Pork Tasso – chopped in small chunks
  • 2  1/2 lb. shrimp – deveined
  • 2 lbs. Louisiana crawfish – washed … Continue Reading

Pet Rules for the Home

January 29, 2010 Critter Corner No Comments

This is an article sent to me by a friend with 2 cats, Dog & Catvia email, it has circulated around the internet, and I think you will find it quite humorous.  Those of us with cats or dogs will surely be able to relate to these rules and comments:

PET RULES –  To be posted VERY LOW on the refrigerator door – nose height.

Dear Dogs and Cats,

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate does not stake a claim for it, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn’t help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered.  Also, I have been using the bathroom for years — canine or feline attendance is not required. … Continue Reading

How to Give Your Cat a Pill in Twenty Easy Steps

January 29, 2010 Critter Corner No Comments

Funny CatThis humorous article was sent to me by a friend with several cats.  It has been circulated around on the internet via email, and the Author is Unknown.  I’m sure it has found it’s way into several veterinarian’s offices and posted for their feline clients’ humans:

1.  Sit on sofa.  Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your elbow as though you were going to give a bottle to a baby. Talk softly to it.

2.  With right hand, position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand (be patient).  As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth.  Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.  Drop pill into mouth.  Let go of cat, noticing the direction it runs.

3.  Pick the pill up off the floor and go get the cat from behind sofa.  Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.  Sit on floor in kitchen, wrap arm around cat as before, drop pill in mouth.  Let go of cat, noticing the direction it runs.

4.  Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.  Scoot across floor to pick up pill, and go find the cat.  Bring it back into the kitchen. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand.  Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger.  Hold mouth shut for a count of ten. Drop pill into mouth. … Continue Reading

Polish Cookie Surprise

January 28, 2010 Recipe Roundup No Comments

Cookies Serving CloseupCookies ServingYet another installment in the “Polish” cooking series.  If you have read any of my other recipes, you know I name everything I concoct in the food arena “Polish” something or another.  So here are my Polish Cookie Surprise cookies, and you can feel free to add other ingredients, such as raisins, cranraisins, dates, etc.  In this mix I used a variety of nuts.  This particular batch that I made for Christmas made about 11.5 dozen.  Start with a premade cookie dough mix.  This past Christmas at Sam’s they had the Pillsbury Chocolate Chip cookie dough in a 5 lb. tub from the refrigerated section.  The package tub says it will make 80 cookies, but by adding a few extra ingredients, and depending on what size you make the cookies, you can make far more.  I used about a heaping teaspoon size or so.  A few years ago, Publix had a Russell Stover Chocolate Cookie Mix ready made dough that was out of this world, but they only carried it that one year at Christmas that I ever saw.  Enjoy! … Continue Reading

Lessons We Learn From Animals

January 27, 2010 Critter Corner No Comments

This touching news story was sent to me by a friend that has 2 cats.  It had been sent around several times on the internet, and the author is unknown as well as the rescue people in the photos.  If only we humans could be so compassionate, friendly, and peaceful.  Enjoy!

After the tornado – Greensburg , KS

Tornado Dog 1Tornado Dog 2Tornado Dog 3The story begins with the rescuers finding this poor little guy they named Ralphie.  Someone had already taken him under their wing but weren’t equipped to adopt; Ralphie,  scared and starved, joined his rescuers…I wouldn’t think anything could live through this…but we were wrong.

Tornado Dog 6Tornado Dog 5Tornado Dog 4

This little lady also survived that wreckage.  Here she is just placed in the car – scared, but safe.  and then…they are no longer alone!  Instant  friends, they comforted each other while in the car.  Add  two more beagles found after that…the more, the merrier

Tornado Dog 7Tornado Dog 8Tornado Dog 9

Oh  boy, a new traveler to add to the mix… (note:  the cat coming over the seat needing shelter…) now just how is this  going to work??? – and remember they are all strange to one another.  It’s going to work just fine, thank you very much!

Tornado Dog 10Tornado Dog 11

Wow!  The things we learn from our animal friends…  If only all of mankind could learn such valuable  lessons as  this.  Lessons of instant friendship.  Of peace and  harmony by way of respect for one another — no matter one’s color or creed.  These animals tell you… ‘It’s just good to be alive and with others.’  Yes, it surely is.

So…  Live, Love Laugh.  ‘Life’s  a Gift… Unwrap It!’

Travolta Flies Relief Supplies to Haiti

January 26, 2010 News of the Day No Comments

AirplaneActor John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston have flown their personal Boeing 707 to Haiti loaded with supplies and doctors for relief efforts.  On the return trip, they brought back several Haitian-Americans to be reunited with their families in Miami.  Below are two links on articles and videos that document the story.  As you will read in the first link report from the Earth Times, according to The Greater Washington Haiti Relief Committee and the Haitian Embassy in Washington D.C. reported in the article:  “The plane carried 7,000 pounds of medical supplies, all of which were purchased with funds provided by Travolta as a donation to the relief efforts.  The plane also carried much needed food and water including 4,500 meals-ready-to-eat.  Also onboard were 50 doctors, including surgeons, plastic surgeons, trauma specialists, and cardiologists.”

Operation Phenomenon Takes Off From Tampa – John Travolta Pilots Late Night Flight To Take Doctors and Medical Supplies to Haiti:  http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/operation-phenomenon-takes-off-from,1135990.shtml

Travolta Flies Jetload of Relief Supplies to Haiti:   http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100126/ap_on_en_mo/cb_haiti_travolta

Video Clip:  http://news.yahoo.com/video/world-15749633/17814199

Now I know there will be naysayers out there that will comment that they also took Scientology Ministers as well, and these naysayers will comment that it was for recruitment or publicity (these are some comments I saw in some other websites).  Well, the way I see it, and I am not a Scientologist, but the last time I looked, the United States is still a free country, that was his plane, his money and resources, and if he wants to bring more people over there to help, I think that is just great.  And it was the Church of Scientology that coordinated all the logistics of the trip, and that took a lot of effort and manpower.  At least he is doing something to help, and it usually turns out that the naysayers are those who do not help, but only complain.

A few years back, I had the great pleasure to meet Mr. Travolta and shake his hand.  It was only for a few seconds, but he is so sincere, he has a firm handshake, looks you straight in your eyes (with his beautiful eyes) when he shakes your hand and greets you with a pleasant “Hello”, and you can only feel good thoughts about that type of special person.

I say, God speed John and Kelly, and thank you for all your humanitarian deeds.

Valentine Hearts Table Design

January 25, 2010 Art of Dining No Comments

Valentine TableValentine FloralWith Valentine’s Day coming soon, this is a perfect way to say “I Love You”.  The theme of this beautiful tabletop designed for the Daytona Beach Symphony Guild Art of Dining event is Valentine Love.

This table design was put together by a local florist, but I do not have their name.  As you can see, it is set for a romantic Valentine’s day dinner or brunch, perhaps one to “pop the question” at.  The centerpiece is a multi-dimensional heart, styrofoam I suppose, covered in red fabric or ribbon.  A floral arrangement of white orchids and red roses sits atop the heart’s center.  This arrangement is open and high enough that it won’t block the guest’s view when seated.

All of the dishes are of heart and floral shapes and different sizes and textures, in shades of white, red, and pink.  The red napkins are held together in a fan shape by white ribbon and a white orchid.  Fresh strawberries, little candies, crystal hearts scatted about, extra long taper red candles in crystal candlesticks, heart shaped beaded place mats and coasters, votive candles, and deep pink carnation nosegays anchoring the heart centerpiece, all add to the whimsy and romance of this heartwarming table setting.

Valentine Close 3Valentine Close 2Valentine Close 1

Around the World in 80 Days Tabletop Design

January 24, 2010 Art of Dining No Comments

Around the World DiningAnother beautiful tabletop designed for the Daytona Beach Symphony Guild Art of Dining event.  This particular tabletop was designed and put together by myself and another lady from our Garden Club, using our personal items we had in our home and our private collections.

The inspiration for the table setting “Around the World in 80 Days” came from the 1956 adventure film based on the classic novel of the same name by Jules Verne.  Set in Victorian times around 1872, an English gentleman Phileas Fogg claims he can circumnavigate the world in 80 days.  He makes a wager with his fellow members of his London gentleman’s club to return by the 80th day at precisely 8:45 pm, and with his resourceful valet Passepartout, the journey begins. … Continue Reading

Louisiana State Bird

PelicanThe Louisiana state bird is the Eastern Brown Pelican.  Found from South Carolina all the way to Brazil, it is famous for its large bill.  The bottom part of its bill has a pouch that can be greatly enlarged.  This is useful because when they go to catch a fish to eat they scoop up the water the fish is swimming in, making it easier to catch.  Provided by the Louisiana State Legislature, Office of Public Information

Ricochet the Surfing Dog Raises Thousands of Dollars for People in Need

January 20, 2010 Critter Corner No Comments

Golden Retreiver ArtClick on the link to read an amazing story and see the coordinating YouTube video about an amazing Golden Retriever who originally was being trained to be a service dog, but turned into an amazing surfing dog to help those with disabilities, in particular, a 15-year-old quadriplegic who loved to ride the California waves, named Patrick Ivison.  Not only does Ricochet surf with Patrick, but has helped to raise funds for his therapy.  A truly inspiring story that will bring tears to your eyes:  http://www.peoplepets.com/news/hero/ricochet-the-surfing-dog-raises-thousands-of-dollars-for-people-in-need/1.

Oprah’s “No Phone Zone”, Take the Pledge

January 19, 2010 News of the Day No Comments

Oprah's No Phone ZoneMonday’s Oprah show (Jan. 18, 2010) had a great message for all of us to heed, distracted driving while using your cell phone and/or texting can kill.  On the show were family members who had lost loved ones, and one young man who was responsible for killing 2 men, both of them loving fathers and husbands.  One shocking thing the young man said was that in his Driver’s Ed class in high school, the instructor never mentioned that using a cell phone or texting while driving could be dangerous (or so he stated).  This show should be shown in every Driver’s Ed class.  Photos of the crashes were shown, and family members spoke of the pain now in their lives with the loss of a loved one.  Oprah has a pledge form you can sign on her website www.Oprah.com, and the link to the particular show script is http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/End-Distracted-Driving.

I personally do not use my cell when driving, actually, I am one of the few people that just keep my phone in my purse for emergencies, and usually don’t even have it turned on.  But I do get infuriated when I’m on the road and other people pull out in front of me, swerve into my lane, etc. and when I see the driver, nine times out of ten, they are talking on a cell phone, and even more infuriating, they continue on their merry way as if unaware that they almost killed or severely injured another human being.

If you use your cell phone or text when driving, or if your son, daughter, family member, or friend uses their phone or texts while driving, urge them to go to Oprah’s site at the link http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/End-Distracted-Driving and, if you can, sit down with them and watch/read it together.  There are photos and short videos of the show as well on that link.  If we can just save one person’s life by doing this, think how many lives will be affected.

Other important links to get more information on the topic that are listed on Oprah’s site are:  Distraction.gov and FocusDriven.org

Please read the article on Oprah.com and save a life.

Bodacious Koi Pond on Fine Living Network

January 15, 2010 Garden Gazebo No Comments

Lakeview PondGreat News!  Our Koi pond that we had when we lived in South Florida that was featured on HGTV in 2001 has been seen on an affiliated network, Fine Living Network (FLN), and the show is “15 Bodacious Backyards”.  We are number 12, so we are at the beginning of the show.  My husband and I missed the first half, but a friend of ours from Texas was channel surfing last night and saw the clip.  The original show was an hour show featuring 7 water gardens.  The current show is also an hour show, but it is showing 15 locations, so the original clip has been shortened greatly, but you will be able to get the general idea.  FLN will be airing the show several more times in the month of January 2010, and you can check the schedule at their site http://www.fineliving.com/fine/our_specials/episode/0,1663,FINE_5916_63659,00.html and times are listed at EST.  The show will air this weekend on the 16th and 17th, so my husband and I will be watching it.  It’s great to see that almost 10 years later, our Koi pond is still a favorite of the viewers and the home and garden shows.  Hope you can catch the show and ENJOY!

4th of July Little Known History

January 14, 2010 Story Time No Comments

US FlagDid you know this part of 4th of July history?  This has been around before, and sent to me via email by several people, but still is very interesting.  For those that were not aware, that these great Men gave so much for our freedom.

4TH OF JULY – Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. … Continue Reading

Louisiana’s State Reptile

Louisiana AlligatorIf you go to the lowlands and waters of Louisiana you might bump into the state’s reptile, the alligator.  Found in the southeast portion of the U.S., the alligator’s colors range from dull gray to dark olive.  Despite its vicious reputation, this large “lizard” takes better care of its young than other reptiles do.  However, if you see one you’d better stay out of its way because grown males can weigh up to 550 pounds and grow to 12 feet in length.  Provided by the Louisiana State Legislature, Office of Public Information

Louisiana’s State Crustacean

Crawfish PlateCalled “crawdads” and “mudbugs” in other parts of the U.S., crawfish are Louisiana’s state crustaceans.  There are so many in Southern Louisiana that this region is commonly referred to as the crawfish capital of the world.  Although may crawfishermen still use swamps and marshes as their main hunting grounds for these small, lobster look-a-likes, the crawfish industry has become so big in Louisiana people have developed crawfish farms.  Provided by the Louisiana State Legislature, Office of Public Information

Louisiana State Flower

January 11, 2010 Trivia Tidbits No Comments

Magnolia FlowerHave you ever noticed how many Magnolia trees there are in your neighborhood?  Well, in 1900 the Louisiana Legislature did.  Because of the large number of these trees found in Louisiana, they decided to make the white blossom of the Magnolia tree Louisiana’s state flower.  Provided by the Louisiana State Legislature, Office of Public Information

Blue & Gold Elegance Tabletop

January 10, 2010 Art of Dining No Comments
Blue and Gold Elegance
Blue and Gold Elegance

Another beautiful tabletop designed for the Daytona Beach Symphony Guild Art of Dining event.  I can’t remember if this table top was done by a  garden club, or a group of individual ladies.  It is very elegant, using a jewel-toned sapphire blue cloth runner, bunched with folds to resemble a sea of blue wafting over the table.  Antique gold candelabras are off set with the use of silver candle sticks and silver flatware.  The tableware is set for a formal dinner, using all of the appropriate serving pieces.  This setting lends itself to a special occasion, such as wedding, anniversary, or birthday for that someone special.

Louisiana’s State Fruit

January 10, 2010 Trivia Tidbits No Comments

StrawberryStrawberries have been grown in Louisiana since the 1860’s, but it wasn’t until 2001 that the strawberry became the state fruit, replacing the cantaloupe.  The city of Ponchatoula is most known for its production of strawberries.  In 1999, the United States Postal Service even introduced a strawberry stamp, and held its opening ceremony in Ponchatoula.  Approximately half of the money that the state earns from fruit comes from strawberries.  The strawberry has its own commissioner, and most importantly, its own festival held every Spring in Ponchatoula.  Provided by the Louisiana State Legislature, Office of Public Information

Riding Lawnmower Gift

January 7, 2010 Story Time No Comments

Riding Lawnmower

This article came to me via email from some male who thought it was kinda funny:

My wife always wanted a riding lawn mower.  She works all day and was always tired when she came home from work and thought that a riding lawn mower would help her get the yard work done quicker so she would have more time for the chores inside the house.

SO, being the handy sort of guy that I am, I made her a riding lawn mower.  I guess I thought she would squeal with delight or something and give me a big hug.  To this day I have never been able to understand why some women are so hard to please…. I thought I did a great job!

You know you’re a Floridian if….

January 5, 2010 Trivia Tidbits No Comments

FloridaThis article came to me via email from several people:

You know you’re a Floridian if….

Socks are only for bowling.

You never use an umbrella because you know the rain will be over in five minutes.

A good parking place has nothing to do with distance from the store, but everything to do with shade.

Your winter coat is made of denim.

You can tell the difference between fire ant bites and mosquito bites.

You’re younger than thirty but some of your friends are over 65.

Anything under 70 degrees is chilly. … Continue Reading

Stuff You Might Not Know

January 5, 2010 Trivia Tidbits No Comments

Interesting trivia sent to me via email from several people:

Stewardesses is the longest word typed only with the left hand.

Lollipop is the longest word typed only with the right hand.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

Dreamt is the only English word that ends with the letters ‘mt’.

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing. … Continue Reading

Arthur and the Witch

January 5, 2010 Story Time No Comments

KnightThis short story came to me via email from several people:

Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom.  The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur’s youth and ideals.  So, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question.  Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.

The question?… .What do women really want?  Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query.  But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch’s proposition to have an answer by year’s end.  He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone:  the princess, the priests, the wise men and even the court jester.  He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer.  Many people advised him to consult the old witch, for only she would have the answer.  But the price would be high; as the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged. … Continue Reading

Wiley Coyote

January 4, 2010 Critter Corner No Comments
Wiley Coyote 1

Wiley Coyote 1

This article came to me via email from several people:

This does make me think of Wiley Coyote from Roadrunner cartoons. He falls off cliffs and anvils are always dropping on his head etc and yet… he lives!

Meet the wiliest of all coyotes: Hit by a car at 75mph, embedded in the fender, road for 600 miles – and SURVIVED!

Wiley Coyote 2

Wiley Coyote 2

When a brother and sister struck a coyote at 75mph they assumed they had killed the animal and drove on. They didn’t realize this was the toughest creature ever to survive a hit-and-run. Eight hours, two fuel stops, and 600 miles later they found the wild animal embedded in their front fender and very much alive. The brother and sister were Daniel and Tevyn East driving at night along Interstate 80 near the Nevada-Utah border when they noticed a pack of coyotes near the roadside on October 12. When one of the animals ran in front of the car, the impact sounded fatal so the siblings thought there no point in stopping. ‘Right off the bat, we knew it was bad,’ Daniel explained. ‘We thought the story was over.’ After the incident around 1 am, they continued their 600 mile drive to North San Juan – even

Wiley Coyote 3

Wiley Coyote 3

stopping for fuel at least twice. But it was only when they finally reached their destination at 9 am did they take time to examine what damage they may have sustained. At first it looked as though it was going to be quite gruesome. ‘Daniel saw fur and the body inside the grill,’ Tevyn East said. ‘I was trying to keep some distance. Our assumption was it was part of the coyote – it didn’t register it was the whole animal.’

Daniel East got a broom to try and pry the remains out of the bumper and got the shock of his life. ‘It flinched,’ Tevyn East said. ‘It was a huge surprise – he got a little freaked out.’

Wiley Coyote 4

Wiley Coyote 4

Tevyn East, who was in the car when it hit the coyote, bends down to take a look at the fur poking through the fender.  What Mr. East spotted as he bent down to inspect the damage to his car – the body of the coyote poking out through the radiator!  The animal’s head can be seen as rescuers took apart the front fender to save it after it was struck by the car at 75mph!

As the animal struggled, wildlife protection officials put a loop around its neck to prevent it from further injuring itself.  The front of the car is completely taken apart as the coyote begins to wriggle free.

Wiley Coyote 5

Wiley Coyote 5

And voila!  Tricky the toughest coyote ever rests in a cage after its ordeal – which it survived with just some scrapes to its paw!

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS – 1895

January 4, 2010 Trivia Tidbits No Comments
8th Grade 1895

8th Grade 1895

This article came to me via email from several people:

This is interesting… What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895…  Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education?  Well, check this out.  Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , Kansas , USA.  It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam:  Salina, KS – 1895

Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.

2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.

3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph

4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of ‘lie,”play,’ and ‘run.’

5. Define case; illustrate each case.

6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.

7 – 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar. … Continue Reading

Louisiana State Freshwater Fish

January 4, 2010 Trivia Tidbits No Comments

Also know as “sac-a-lait”, the white perch is Louisiana’s state freshwater fish.  This fish is green or brown on its back, and bright silver to white on its belly.  Easiest caught when using live minnows as bait, The largest one caught in Louisiana weighed in at a whopping 6 pounds!  Did you know that after the female white perch lays her eggs, it is the male that guards the nest to make sure they are safe?  Provided by the Louisiana State Legislature, Office of Public Information

Human Statue of Liberty

January 4, 2010 Trivia Tidbits No Comments
Human Statue of Liberty

Human Statue of Liberty

This article came to me via email from several people:

I find it amazing that this photo, taken so many years ago, actually still exists! And now, someone has put it on line for all of us to see

This INCREDIBLE picture was taken in 1918. It is 18,000 men preparing for war in a training camp at Camp Dodge in Des Moines,  Iowa. EIGHTEEN THOUSAND MEN!!!!

What a priceless gift from our grandfathers!

FACTS:

Base to Shoulder: 150 feet

Right Arm: 340 feet

Widest part of arm holding torch: 12 1/2 f eet

Right thumb: 35 feet

Thickest part of body: 29 feet

Left hand length: 30 feet

Face: 60 feet

Nose: 21 feet

Longest spike of head piece: 70 feet

Torch and flame combined: 980 feet

Number of men in flame of torch: 12,000

Number of men in torch: 2,800

Number of men in right arm: 1,200

Number of men in body, head and balance of figure only: 2,000

Total men: 18,000

Louisiana’s State Vegetable

January 4, 2010 Trivia Tidbits No Comments

Sweet PotatoThe official state vegetable is the sweet potato.  Louisiana is the second largest sweet potato growing state in the United States and the sweet potato is the most valuable vegetable crop grown in Louisiana.  It is worth about $65 million to Louisiana farmers each year.  People call sweet potatoes grown in Louisiana “yams”.  Sweet potatoes have a bright orange flesh color.  Native Americans were already growing sweet potatoes when Columbus arrived in America in 1492.  Today, people enjoy sweet potatoes in casseroles, desserts, salads, pastries, cakes, pies, side dishes, and soups.  Provided by the Louisiana State Legislature, Office of Public Information

Well-Planned Retirement – “From The London Times”

December 29, 2009 Trivia Tidbits No Comments

Well-Planned Retirement – “From The London Times” (sent to me via email)

Outside the Bristol Zoo, in England, there is a parking lot for 150 cars and 8 coaches, or buses.  It was manned by a very pleasant attendant with a ticket machine charging cars $1.40 and coaches $7.00.  This parking attendant worked there solid for all of 25 years.  Then, one day, he just didn’t turn up for work.

“Well”, said Bristol Zoo Management, “we’d better phone City Council and get them to send a new parking attendant.”  “Aahhh…no”, said the Council, “that parking lot is your responsibility.”  “No”, said Bristol Zoo Management, “the attendant was employed by the City Council.  Wasn’t he?”  “NO!” insisted the Council.   “We thought he was your employee all of these years.”

Sitting in his villa somewhere on the coast of Spain or on a white sandy beach somewhere, is a bloke who had been taking the parking lot fees, estimated at about $560 per day at the Bristol Zoo for the last 25 years.  Assuming 7 days a week, this amounts to just over $7 million. And no one even knows his name.

Christmas Eve 1881

December 27, 2009 Story Time No Comments

Log CabinThis story was sent to me via email by a very dear friend.  We don’t know who the author is, but take time to read this inspiring story.  Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve 1881

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. … Continue Reading

Louisiana Mardi Gras

December 24, 2009 Trivia Tidbits No Comments

Mardi Gras“Throw me something Mister!!”  For a lot of families in South Louisiana, those are the words babies learn after they master “Mama” and “Dada”.  A long standing tradition in the state, the Mardi Gras celebration brings fun, laughter, color, and “throw” to all who participate in its festivities.

A festival brought to Louisiana from Paris, France, the first daytime parade held in New Orleans was in 1838.  Although most think of floats, beads, and costumes, Mardi Gras is in fact a religious celebration.  The Carnival season was created as  time when people have fun before beginning the Lenten season of fasting which leads to Easter Sunday.  During the Lenten season, followers of Catholicism are not supposed to eat meat on Fridays.  Traditionally, on the Tuesday before Lent begins, they celebrated by eating all the meat they had in storage.  This is why it is called Mardi Gras, which means ” Fat Tuesday”.  The colors associated with this annual festival are purple (symbol of justice), green (symbol of faith), and gold (symbol of power).  Provided by the Louisiana State Legislature, Office of Public Information

Ice Blue Wedding Tabletop

December 21, 2009 Art of Dining No Comments
Ice Blue Wedding
Ice Blue Wedding

Another beautiful tabletop designed for the Daytona Beach Symphony Guild Art of Dining event.  This tabletop design was put together by a floral designer for a wedding event, perhaps a bridal tea, shower, rehearsal dinner, or the wedding reception.  Ice blue colors and natural elements were used.  The focal point was the branches used in a vase for the centerpiece, with votive candles hanging from sheer ribbons, and small birds alighting on the branches.  A soft ice blue gauze was used to drape the chairs.  Silver and crystal was used as serving pieces and accents.

Christmas Kitties 2006

December 21, 2009 Critter Corner No Comments

Here are our kitties:  Penelope, Socks, and Yoda enjoying the Christmas Spirit during Christmas 2006!

Socks and Yoda Are Mystified

Socks and Yoda Are Mystified

Socks Under the Tree

Socks Under the Tree

Penelope Says "Bah Humbug"

Penelope Says "Bah Humbug"

Socks Is One Tired Kitty

Socks Is One Tired Kitty

Independence Hall Tabletop

December 21, 2009 Art of Dining No Comments
Independence Hall

Independence Hall

Another beautiful tabletop designed for the Daytona Beach Symphony Guild Art of Dining event.  I;m not sure who put this one together, perhaps a local bakery or garden club.  It is a massive gingerbread house, I believe of Independence Hall, with a tremendous amount of detail.  This must have taken hundreds of hours to complete!  Around it are the place settings, each of a different color and type of stoneware, I believe it is called transferware, but not sure.  This gingerbread house is competition worthy, and would be a magnificent centerpiece for that special holiday party, or maybe even a formal dinner for the 4th of July!

Swans of Love Wedding Tabletop

December 21, 2009 Art of Dining No Comments
Swans of Love Wedding
Swans of Love Wedding

Another beautiful tabletop designed for the Daytona Beach Symphony Guild Art of Dining event.  This tabletop design was created by a local department store, I don’t remember

which one.  It focused on an ice blue and swan theme, perhaps for a winter wedding, bridal shower, or wedding anniversary.    Everything is in pale ice blue, white, and silver with sprayed dried tree branches forming the back drop for the 2 feathered swans as the centerpiece.  The table linens consist of a white satin under cloth with an ice blue transparent table topper, with scattered white glittered snowflakes.  The place settings are simple yet elegant, with the white napkins with blue trim tied with light blue ribbon held together with a snowflake.  A very peaceful and serene table setting for the winter months.

Love Swans Tableware

Love Swans Tableware

Pork Chop Pear & Apple Bake

December 18, 2009 Recipe Roundup No Comments
Pork Chop Bake Serving

Pork Chop Bake Serving

Here is a recipe you can make if you are having a special dinner, and want to impress, but have something easy to make.   Next time, we might try it with peaches or nectarines.

Pork Chop Pear & Apple Bake

  • 2 red apples and 2 pears (any variety of each you prefer)
  • 4 tbsp. onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • fresh basil (can use dried)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4  1-inch-thick pork chops, boneless or butterfly type
  • Mrs. Dash Original seasoning (or salt & pepper if you prefer)
  • fresh mint leaves (optional)
    Pork Chop Bake in Pan

    Pork Chop Bake in Pan

    … Continue Reading

Moss Green Tabletop

December 11, 2009 Art of Dining No Comments
Moss Green Tabletop
Moss Green Tabletop

Another beautiful tabletop designed for the Daytona Beach Symphony Guild Art of Dining event.  This tablescape was put together by another garden club, I believe.  It is simple, yet whimsical and elegant, using moss greens and blues.  A unique stoneware similar to cabbage leaves was used, with an unusual umbrella as a centerpiece.  The drinks used paper umbrellas to carry out the theme, and small gift packages used as place markers carried out the moss green theme.Moss Green Closeup

Hot Flashes in the Pan YouTube Videos

Hot Flashes in the Pan YouTube Videos

Critter Corner

Alligators In Our Yard!

July 17, 2012

  You have to look real close, but the gator is resting behind the sago palm and the water’s edge.  Needless to say, I too these photos from inside the house and did not go out to get a closer inspection. The Alligator Trapper caught “the big one” which was 12 foot plus.  Here he […]

Back Again After a Short Break

February 2, 2012

Dear Family, Friends, Subscribers, and Visitors, I’ve been remiss in not posting very much since Thanksgiving of 2011, and I know you have wondered where the “Hot Flashes in the Pan” videos have been.  You will be glad to know that I will be focused more on bringing all types of new information, articles, videos, […]

Shepherd in a Manger

November 20, 2011

  Found on the Internet / Facebook: A Nativity Scene was erected in a church yard. During the night, someone came across this. An abandoned dog was looking for a comfortable, protected place to sleep. He chose baby Jesus as his comfort. No one had the heart to send him away so he was there […]

Tale of the Missing Socks

September 17, 2011

My cat Penelope wears socks.  Yes, you heard correctly, socks.  She’s a little over 15 years old now and has arthritis in her back legs.  This causes her to be a little unsteady when using the litter box.  Sometimes, not always, but sometimes after she tinkles she looses her balance and steps in the clump of […]

Pets and the Joy They Bring

September 16, 2011

Having a pet, be it a cat, dog, bird, fish, horse, pig, or whatever furry creature you relate to, is a positive and healthy experience.  Studies have proven that they can extend our lives, lower our blood pressure, and pretty much make us feel good all over because they give us unconditional love. You may […]