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I Had A Dream…..

I have never really liked going shopping.   I usually shop on-line as it is so much easier, the choices are vast, it is delivered to your door and I have never had to send anything back. Garage Sales usually […]

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When Life Gives You Lemons…..Make A Cake!

Can we talk? Yes, Of course we can…you and I have been talking for several years now and so I know I can tell you anything! As you know, I have been painting all the rooms at Villa de la […]

1711[1]

On The Chopping Block….

I have a thing for Chopping Blocks and Cutting Boards, I have several! But this particular Chopping Block Story began with Bill Self!   Yes, that Bill Self!  You know, the head coach of the best college basketball team in […]

Here Is To New Neighbors and Cobblers!

Can we talk about neighbors?   The Captain and I are so blessed as we have the most wonderful neighbors!  And a few months ago,  we gained yet another wonderful couple!  They were/are from the Chicago area and they have […]

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I Believe He Is Smitten!!!

My dear readers, today I want to tell you a story of what I interpret as a an admirer….who happens to love My Secret Garden!  I have mixed feelings about this admirer or at least… who I think is admiring […]

 

I Had A Dream…..

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I have never really liked going shopping.  

I usually shop on-line as it is so much easier, the choices are vast, it is delivered to your door and I have never had to send anything back.

Garage Sales usually don’t interest me, (unless they are selling garages,  OK, forgive my attempt at humor) But my success at finding treasures at garage/yard sales haven’t been too productive in the past.

I evidently choose the wrong sale to go to!  All I see are children’s clothes, chipped cups and saucers and a box of costume jewelry that has nothing but tangled up necklaces and mis-matched ear rings.  I can look in my own garage and see that stuff. πŸ˜‰

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Ok, I don’t have any children’s clothing in my garage.  I was just trying to make a point.

There might be a box of costume jewelry sitting on a shelf though.

Sorry, I digress….garage/yard sales are just not my idea of “shopping” on a hot summer day.

Having said that, I do have to admit that the Captain and I have stopped at a garage sale or two.  They were never a destination.  Just an impromptu stop if we happen to see large pieces of furniture that we could possibly use when flipping houses.

So this dream of mine….had me really concerned.

Because I dreamed about going garage/yardsaling….is that even a word?

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Sooooo in this dream, I have on a gossamery, gauzy, white sundress with a large straw hat with pretty pink ribbons blowing in the summer breeze.

And white gloves!

And beautiful butterflies are fluttering in and about the card tables sitting on bright green grass….each table has beautiful tea sets that are set up to show the possibilities of suggested, potential tea parties. 

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There are also card tables full of beautiful white casserole dishes with bunnies and chickens and cute little pigs perched as lids.

There is nothing chipped or broken.

There are no price tags on anything….

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The large sign near the driveway says “Huge Multi-Family Yard Sale”.…with a smaller sign that says “make an offer on any table”!

I notice that there is nary a makeshift clothes rack of outdated women’s wear or rickety table holding disheveled children’s clothing to be seen.

Nor is there any bent cardboard boxes holding Barbie Dolls with no clothes or little dump trucks with missing doors.  Nope!  No green little army men or Legos anywhere!

And most importantly, there is no box of costume jewelry, with a pair of purple framed sunglasses lying on top and a sign that says “a dollar bill takes it all”.

No, you see in my dream, I am strolling leisurely among the card tables admiring the beautiful dishes, occasionally reaching out to gingerly touch and caress a piece that is lovely.

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What a beautiful yard sale and I am really enjoying myself.

And then a clap of thunder resonates through my bedroom and I sit up straight in bed as rain starts pelting the windows.

I realize that I didn’t get a chance to purchase anything from that wonderful yard sale.

Sigh…..

What a strange dream…Too bad I don’t know of a dream interpreter.

I can most likely do the interpreting myself….I love dishes!  Which is why I have my own dish pantry….and perhaps it is time to buy a new piece or two…or three. πŸ™‚

By the way, the pics are from an afternoon tea party I held last year.  If you would like to see the post, click on the following link:

Ladies Afternoon Tea at Miller Manor

Thanks to those ladies for a wonderful afternoon tea! 

Have a great week-end!

And sweet dreams to you. πŸ™‚

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When Life Gives You Lemons…..Make A Cake!

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Can we talk?

Yes, Of course we can…you and I have been talking for several years now and so I know I can tell you anything!

As you know, I have been painting all the rooms at Villa de la Luna….

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OK, even though the Captain and I put up a plaque declaring that Villa de la Luna is the name of our home, (which means home of the moon)…yes, I name inanimate objects….the plain and simple truth is, it is our home no matter what we call it.

Stay with me here a minute my dear readers.

If you have ever painted a room, you can imagine what a mess it can be with drop cloths draped here and there, ladders (count ’em, 3 of them) set up in different areas and “stuff” that sits on tables such as little vignettes are all clustered together, as well as scattered around to any surface that is available.  Therefore any surface is fair game to become the resting place of candles, vases, books, greenery, and lamps, etc. etc! 

In other words, your room looks like the inside of a cluttered thrift shop.

EXCEPT!!!  Except, my current painting project involves the “main” part of our home which consists of the kitchen, kitchen nook, dining room, entry and living room.  Hooray for the open concept….except when painting!  This wonderful open space which our friends and guests gush over….has actually become very cluttered with “paths” woven in an out among the…stuff!

Because I work slow.  

Because the Captain is flying and won’t be home until next week.

Because I am in no hurry and I like to take my time and do a good job.

Because I am painting over dark stained woodwork…white no less.

Because I am also painting walls and because the Captain is good at painting the 15-20 foot walls…my part of the painting only goes so far up the wall.  Yeah!  picture that in your head.

And therein lies the problem.

It is a total mess but when it is finished, it should be very pretty. I hope.

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So, I have on my paint clothes which consist of a pair of very thin, cut off sweat pants splattered with various colors of paint from previous paintings… an old “IN AND OUT” T-shirt….don’t judge here….yes, I have eaten my share of  “In And Out”  hamburgers and yes, I thought I needed a T-shirt to tell the world that hamburgers and french fries were once a staple in my diet! ….and a pair of paint spattered, once bright white but now an ugly dingy grey-ish tennis shoes.

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We won’t even discuss my hair do…the messy bun with white paint specks, or my manicure of  Kansas City Royal blue nail polish now with fashionable white flecks of paint scattered here and there.

And then it happens!  

The door bell rings!

I am not expecting anyone but I stop what I am doing (which meant getting myself up off the floor with the help of a stray dining chair) and finding my cell phone (because we have one of those door bells that you can see who is actually at the door and you can talk to them from the phone) and I see two nicely dressed ladies.

I do not recognize them and I am assuming they are trying to sell me something so I spout off:

“I’m sorry but I really don’t want or need anything”….

I mean, I am busy here painting and perhaps I was a bit more curt than I normally would have been because it really took an effort to get up off the floor….I am going to have to keep my cell phone within reach next time.

Then one of the ladies said:

“You put a card in the offering basket at church Sunday saying you would like us to drop by to discuss a few of the missionary projects we are working on”  

I did???? My mind raced back to last Sunday when the Captain handed me the collection basket and I dropped in the “tear out” from the church bulletin.

Oh, I did!  So much for being in the spirit at the time.

I stalled for time….

“I don’t believe I have ever seen you at church”….I faltered looking around at my cluttered house. 

“We go to the third service and we understand you go to the first service.”

You see, our church has an 8:15 a.m. traditional service followed by two contemporary services. 

So I headed for the door because I didn’t feel I should tell them to come back another time.

I opened the door and they entered the courtyard, both of them commenting on how “lovely” it was.  As I led them into the house, my thoughts were racing as to how “lovely” they would think the cluttered inside was.

But then it came to me….I had made a lemon pound cake recipe for the Blog and it was sitting in the fridge with only one slice out of it.

For the photo op, you know…ok, and for me to taste too!

So I hurriedly explained that I was painting the house as I moved “stuff” yet again from the kitchen nook table to the kitchen counter top.  I was getting good at this transfer business.

I rescued a couple dining chairs to put around the table so my guests could have a seat.

I opened the slider to the courtyard to help remove the smell of paint on the inside of the house and then I took the pitcher of iced tea from the fridge…tossed in a few slices of lemon and offered them iced sweet tea and lemon cake….all the while talking about painting walls and the pros and cons of painting stained woodwork white.

I figured if they were listening to my endless chattering, they would overlook drop cloths and ladders.  

They were delighted with the cake and tea and thanked me profusely.

Sigh…..it was just like it had been planned.  

Warm, Summer breezes, birds singing and an impromptu “time out” from my painting duties, having sweet tea and lemon cake with two lovely ladies. 

I think the sweet tea is what won them over….allowing them to concentrate on the tea and cake rather than the clutter!  Most people down here in Florida prefer their tea sweet.

Or it could have been the moist lemon cake with the drizzled lemon glaze.

Or it could have been because I said yes to volunteering for the missions committee.

 Have a Blessed day!

By the way…the handy dandy printable recipe is below.

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Lemon Pound Cake
It bakes low and slow and it is a moist and delicious lemon-y pound cake.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  5. 2 cups sugar
  6. 3 eggs
  7. 1/2 cups buttermilk
  8. 1/2 cups of sour cream
  9. 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  10. Zest of 2 lemons
  11. 1 teaspoon of vanilla
Lemon Glaze
  1. 1/4 cup butter, softened
  2. 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  3. 3 tablespoon lemon juice, at room temperature
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in the sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon zest.
  4. Mix half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix in the buttermilk and then add in the remaining flour mixture. Mix just until the flour disappears. Pour the cake batter in a bundt pan that has been generously sprayed with baking spray.
  5. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Turn the cake over on a cake platter. Spread half of the lemon glaze over the warm cake so that the glaze can soak into the cake. Let the cake cool completely and drizzle the remaining glaze over the cake.
For the Glaze
  1. Cream the butter and slowly add powdered sugar and lemon juice. Beat well until the glaze is a creamy smooth consistency.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

On The Chopping Block….

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I have a thing for Chopping Blocks and Cutting Boards, I have several!

But this particular Chopping Block Story began with Bill Self!  

Yes, that Bill Self!  You know, the head coach of the best college basketball team in the world.  OK, sorry…. I do get a bit carried away when it comes to sports, especially the Kansas Jayhawks.  But then you already knew that didn’t you?

I am sure you are wondering how a college basketball coach translates to chopping blocks and cutting boards.

Grab a cup of coffee because this might take a bit of story telling.

Several years ago, while I was perusing the KU website, something caught my eye and that something was this:

BE A KU BASKETBALL STAR/COACH FOR A WEEK END!

WOW! I was so excited and I knew I was gonna be “all in” for this one…so I skipped through all the boring details of the hotel and meals free and playing basketball with the team and ending up at Coach Self’s house in Lawrence for a special barbecue and pool party.

Right down to the part that would let me know if I was going to be able to go or not.

The Cost!  I mean, how expensive could it be? 

And there it was….

“KU Alumni Association members have access to an exclusive discount for the ProCamp.”

YES! YES! YES!  A discount…of course I am already there in my mind and I have been a Season Ticket Holder….I am definitely “In”.

I just couldn’t contain my excitement.  And so I kept reading.

“Regular registration is $4,995, but members can register at a special price of $3,995. Contact Matt Chacksfield at mchacksfield@procamps.com or 513.745.5850 to register, and visit www.billselfbasketballexperience.com for more information.”

Say what???????? 

Oh my gosh….talk about a deflated balloon. 

As much as I love my KU Basketball and as much as I would love to attend this camp and mingle with the players and coaches, I just couldn’t justify spending that kind of money for a day and a half of basketball fun.

But I continued to read of the events and such, that I WOULD NOT be attending and there was a short video of Bill Self’s home and previous PROCAMP attendees.  His house was Spanish Mediterranean –  like mine, but of course a bit more upscale….. and I noticed in his kitchen, as he sat at an interview, a huge chopping block that sat on little fat, round feet, draped with a Maroon colored Mexican Serape. 

Now, it caught my interest because I have a large chopping block almost identical to the one on the Self’s kitchen counter, only mine did not have “feet”.

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I’ve seen cutting boards before like the one on Bill Self’s counter in high end magazines that cost as much as a small island in the South Pacific…..or at least the same amount as the registration fee for attending the PROCAMP.

And I thought to myself, I could make my cutting board look like that! I mean, If I can’t go to the PROCAMP…at least I could have a cutting board or chopping block just like the one at Coach Bill Self’s home in Lawrence, Kansas.

I have to say that the Captain is usually “on board” with any of my little projects, but when I mentioned to him that I wanted to add little “feet” to my existing cutting board, he frowned.

“Why don’t you put rollers on the chopping block instead of feet?” he queried.  “You know, like the ones I put on the smoker in the garage….so that you can roll it around on your counter …because after all, it is such a heavy board and adding feet to it will make it even heavier?”

I was horrified!  Bill Self didn’t have castors or rollers on his chopping block…he had little fat feet and I wanted little fat feet too.

(we won’t discuss the little fat feet that appear when one has too much salt) πŸ™‚

And so….that idea sorta got pushed to the bottom of my “honey do” list when I did a Google and Amazon search and couldn’t find those cute little ‘bun feet”.

In the meantime, I draped a Mexican serape over the edge of my chopping block, but I couldn’t help but note that my chopping block did not have those cute little fat feet that I admired so much.

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Fast forward to the present….and a new project!

As you know we are painting the inside of our home and I found a spare wall that would be perfect for a hanging plate rack.  

So, I called upon the Captain to get his thoughts on this new project.

And he liked the idea and said let’s go to Lowe’s and Home Depot and see what kind of material you would like to make this platter and plate rack.  

As I wandered up and down the isles….I glanced down in a basket at the bottom of rows and rows of 1 X 2 boards and I squealed “Hoooonnnnneeeeyyyyy”!!!!!!!!!…

……that wasn’t exactly my best social graces but I was so excited because I saw a wire basket of little fat feet!

The Captain rushed to my side thinking I had been attacked or bitten by a spider or some other tragedy had befallen me and when he saw me holding two of the little fat feet….he again gave me that frown look.  You know the one where his brow furrows and his mouth drops open and his eyes get all squinty?  

Yep!  that is the one.

My eyes, unlike his,…were all wide and excited.  I had found the treasure of the Sierra Madre!  Couldn’t he see what I was holding in my hands? 

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I had found them finally….after all these years!

I gushed excitedly….“I’ve  found the little fat feet that will make up for my missing out on the KU basketball PROCAMP!”

The Captain removed one of the round orbs from my hands and said:

“What?”.“What are you talking about?” he said as he rolled the wood ball in his hand revealing one flat side and one side with a screw in it….“I didn’t know you were going to a basketball camp!”

“Forget about the camp” I sputtered.  “These are the little fat feet I want to put on the bottom of my large chopping block”

“Why?” he asked as that frown-y look returned to his face.

(At this point, my dear lady friend readers….I am sure you can relate to my disappointment at how soon these men in our lives forget things that we ladies find important, no matter how many years have passed).

After a long explanation by me….and several times of telling him to “forget about the basketball camp and focus on the chopping block”, we were finally on the same page.

I know….right?

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Finally….My chopping block now has little fat feet!

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And I am a happy camper!

Thanks Bill!   (Bill Self that is….coach of KU basketball and with the same chopping block in his kitchen that I have in my kitchen)

Well, almost the same!

And I think I like it better than going to some silly old basketball camp!

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Here Is To New Neighbors and Cobblers!

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Can we talk about neighbors?  

The Captain and I are so blessed as we have the most wonderful neighbors!  And a few months ago,  we gained yet another wonderful couple!  They were/are from the Chicago area and they have just fit right into our little group. 

I only had my IPhone with me and I must have been pre-occupied with the great conversations as I took only 2 pics and consequently 5 others, 4 men and 1 woman are not in the pics. πŸ™  (Next time, I promise to be better at getting all the group in the pics)

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Our new neighbors hosted an evening of great food and conversation and when the dessert was served….we found ourselves devouring both a peach cobbler and a blueberry cobbler!

I mean, who isn’t happy with that combination?

I mean, who isn’t happy with cobblers period? 

Cobblers are so easy to make and taste soooooo good….and any kind of fruit works in a cobbler.

Have you ever wondered about the history of cobblers?

Well, I did a little research and cobblers are called by many names: such as pandowdy, grunt, slump, buckles, crisp, and Brown Betty. The connection is they are all based on seasonal fruits and berries, or whatever fresh ingredients are readily at hand. They are all homemade. They are simple to make.  AND they rely more on good taste than fancy pastry preparation.

Early settlers of America were very good at improvising. When they first arrived, they bought their favorite recipes with them, such as English steamed puddings. Not finding their favorite ingredients, they used whatever was available. That’s how all these traditional American dishes came about with such unusual names. Many times the early colonists served these juicy fruit dishes as the main course.  Or for breakfast, or even as a first course. It was not until the late 19th century that they became primarily desserts.

Below are a few definitions of various “cobblers”.

  • Cobbler –  Cobblers are an American deep-dish fruit dessert with a thick crust (usually a biscuit crust) and a fruit filling (such as peaches, apples, berries). Some versions are enclosed in the crust, while others have a drop-biscuit or crumb topping.
  • Crisps/Crumbles – these are baked with the fruit mixture on the bottom with a crumb topping which can be made with flour, nuts etc.
  • Brown Betty – a Betty consists of a fruit, such as apples…baked between layers of buttered crumbs. During Colonial times, a Betty was considered a baked pudding.
  • Slumps and Grunts – the name sounds more like someone getting out of bed, however, ….these fruit goodies were more like the English Steamed Puddings….but again the Colonists in New England didn’t have all the fancy bakeware so the cobbler/dumpling like fruit was usually cooked on top of the stove. The name came from the sounds of the fruit “popping” while cooking.
  • Buckle or Crumble – is more like a cake made with a layer of berries, usually blueberries and then topped with something similar to a Streusel which gives the appearance of a buckled or crumpled topping.
  • Pandowdy – is made in a deep dish with varieties of fruit, but namely apples…and a topping of a crumbly type of biscuit which is pushed down and broken up during baking.  The name most likely comes from it’s plain or dowdy appearance.

So whatever you call your dessert….it is most likely based on a cobbler.

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I have been making a lot of strawberry dishes of late, because the strawberries are simply wonderful.  Sooooo I made a strawberry/cranberry cobbler and I wanted to share the recipe below with you.

I did use flour, sugar etc…but if you prefer the mix, Bisquick…please feel free to substitute.  It will make the cobbler even easier to toss together. 

So, no matter what you call your baked fruit and pastry…..just grab that fruit and make it…. and your family will love you for it.

AND…your neighbors will love you too…if you make it and take it over to them or have them over for dinner and make a cobbler for dessert…OR, well, you get the idea!

Here is a toast to our new neighbors…thanks Officers…now you didn’t think I would break rank and give you their real names did you?  πŸ™‚

Have you made a cobbler lately?  Please share your fruit of choice.

Enjoy the Day and Blessings to all.

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Berry Cobbler
One Skillet baking...and this recipe is sooooo easy. AND you could always use a pre made mix such as Bisquick! Cobblers are just yummy!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 stick of butter
  2. 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  3. 1 cup of self rising flour
  4. 1 cup of milk
  5. 1 qt of Strawberries, sliced
  6. 1 cup of cranberries (fresh or frozen)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees.
  2. I use a cast iron skillet ...and I melt the butter in the skillet.
  3. Mix the flour, sugar, and milk in a small bowl, stirring until the batter is free of lumps.
  4. Pour the batter in the skillet and then add the Strawberries and cranberries to the top. (Do not stir the berries into the batter....Once in the oven the crust rises to the top in and around the strawberries as the cobbler bakes).
  5. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a nice golden brown
  6. Serve as is or add vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
Notes
  1. This recipe can be adapted to any fruit...blueberries, raspberries, blackberries....peaches, pears, apricots...the sky is the limit.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

I Believe He Is Smitten!!!

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My dear readers, today I want to tell you a story of what I interpret as a an admirer….who happens to love My Secret Garden! 

I have mixed feelings about this admirer or at least… who I think is admiring me but I could be wrong.  

There might be another explanation but so far, I have not figured it out. It started out with little “gifts”…being left in the Secret Garden on the 3 tiered water fountain.

You see, a couple weeks ago, as I sat at my desk… which looks out into  My Secret Garden, I heard the loudest ruckus just outside my slider patio doors.

The sound was more like a very loud shriek which made me jump as I was deep in thought editing pictures for my Blog.

I recognized the sound as that of a large black crow (apparently Florida does not have Ravens) and when I got my birding book out, I learned this particular crow was a Fish Crow.

The very loud CAW was really a bit annoying so I stepped outside to see a flurry of smaller mockingbirds and one very large black crow disappearing over the roof of my home.

Before I went back into the house…something caught my eye and as I looked in that direction, I saw what appeared to be a paper towel draped on the top of the water fountain.

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I noticed there was no wind to speak of…that would perhaps have blown the bit of “trash” onto the fountain…but I thought it odd because I had never had anything but a few leaves float into that fountain.  I took a picture of it with my IPhone…mainly to show the Captain, and removed it and went back inside.

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A few days later, I again heard the very loud cawing and looked over towards the fountain and saw a large black crow sitting on top of the third tier. I tried to snap a pic..again with my IPhone and though it is a bit blurry….you can see the bird.

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In my defense, had I known that I would be taking pictures of birds in flight, I could have set up my tripod, adjusted my lens shutter speed and shown you a great pic.

But come on people…I usually take still pictures of food! πŸ˜‰

But I digress.

The next day….after hearing that familiar screeching and cawing…I looked at the fountain (see, I am catching on here) and there was a stick laying on top.

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hmmmmmmm. Was this crow leaving me gifts?

Or was he trying to feather his nest and dropped his stick and it fell on the fountain or did he stop for a drink and forget to pick his stick back up before flying over the tree tops? 

I snapped a pic and removed the stick from the fountain.

Then this morning….the signal came again!

The loud cawing and screeching.  I am not sure if the screeching was at me because I removed his “gifts” or if he was trying to get my attention, because…well, because he likes me!

Hey!  it can happen!  Birds can get attached to people especially if they feed them, only I had not fed this large, black, very noisy bird. 

The gift this time…..I know this seems impossible, but the gift this time was a flower! A red Hibiscus….probably one from my own Secret Garden! And perched right beside the flower was the large crow.

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I lifted my hands to take his picture but the movement evidently scared him and he flew away and I have chided myself (several times) on not getting a picture of him sitting on the top of the third tier of the fountain beside the red flower.

OK, folks…I do have tall red Hibiscus flowers just a short distance from the fountain and perhaps one blew onto the fountain.  

I do know that the bird bath on the other side of the Secret Garden often has orange hibiscus from those bushes floating on top… and I remove them when I clean and fill the bird bath. 

I guess anything is possible.

I will try to be more diligent in observing this bird and his intentions.

Gee, you don’t suppose he is like many of the male species and he is bringing me the nesting material and expecting me to build the nest for him?

I will keep you posted and in the meantime…have a great start to your week.

Blessings and Hugs Always!

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Pilgrim’s Painting Progress Update!!!

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My dear readers….the Captain and I have/are being busy little beavers these past few days.  I have shared that we are painting the inside of Villa de la Luna…or in other words, our home, one room at a time.

We started with the hall guest bath or powder room as I like to call it, because it is the bathroom most of our visiting guests use and I wanted it to make a statement and be…well, be pretty and not just functional.

painting

From there we moved to painting the all the dark stained woodwork…. white…. in the small hallway of what we call the West Wing!  

The West Wing consists of two bedrooms, two baths, a laundry room and the entrance to the garage.  Not really what one thinks of when one says “West Wing”…I mean it certainly is nothing like the White House’s West Wing, but our home is “U” shaped, built around a front courtyard… which houses the pool, waterfall and spa. 

Below pic is dark, stained woodwork painted Sherwin-Williams Eider White.

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The combined kitchen, dining room, kitchen nook and living room make up the bottom of the “U” and the East Wing is home to the Master Bedroom, Master Bath, Pool Bath and the Captain’s office or study. 

Perhaps now you can understand the logic behind our terminology.

Now, that we have established the terminology…you can see where I am talking about in regards to our painting.  Oh, and when I say “I/we” …I mean that the Captain is doing all the “heavy” painting….the climbing the 10 foot ladder (we have very tall ceilings) and I am doing the floor stuff…like painting the woodwork, etc!

Below picture is of walls transformed using Sherwin-Williams Agreeable Gray!  I love the soft neutral tones and the fresh clean look.

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That is just the way we roll. πŸ™‚

We like to hear music while we paint…so we have the Bose tuned to our favorite “oldie but goodie” music and we paint away.  Sometimes we make a game of who is singing or what is the name of that tune. I’m not going to say who “wins”…because it is usually half and half.  It just makes it more interesting and not so tedious. 

 You know, I really love to paint and I really love the freshness a little paint brings out in my home. It is almost like one is using a magic wand as the paint brush swishes and swashes and performs it’s magic!  The transformation is both exhilarating and wondrous.

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As you can see by the pics….the Venetian plaster is various colors of beige, white, taupe and browns. The woodwork is dark brown.  This was all done in 2001….so, no judging please. There is just so much of it, as it encompassed the West Wing Hall and the open living areas!!!!! 

Yikes!!!

I will keep you posted of our progress as we s-l-o-w-l-y make over each room.

Do you, my dear readers have a Spring/Summer painting project you are working on?

Share please.

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Am I Up To The Challenge??

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The gauntlet has been thrown down!!!!!

And now I have to ask myself if I am up to the challenge that my grand daughter posed to me last evening on the phone.

My dear readers, perhaps you remember my posting in May of 2014, when I purchased a FitBit bracelet.  I am sure by now that many of you either have a FitBit or you are aware of what it is. But for those of you who do not know…..it is a little computer you either wear on your wrist or on your lapel and it tracks your steps, heart rate, food intake, water intake…etc.  

See the two links below for more info about my FitBit.

Butterflies, Pandora and FitBit!

Paleo…Is It For You?

About 6 months after purchasing my “FitBit”….I started having a problem with the charger and so I tossed it into a drawer.  Shortly thereafter I changed from my trusty old IPhone to a Samsung phone (bigger screen) and so I switched to a different type of FitBit, but it worked on the same principal.

I would love to tell you that I kept using that device, but soon, the newer type of “FitBit” joined the older “FitBit” in a corner of the cords and chargers drawer and then ….I went back to the IPhone 6S, and soon forgot both exercise trackers.

Until…..

Yes, until a few weeks ago when beautiful grand daughter #3 mentioned her FitBit and I opened my mouth and said: 

“I have one of those in a drawer somewhere”.

And she said,

“Great!  Lets do a challenge together!”

Whoa….!!!!!  A challenge?  I sure hope she didn’t expect me to run any marathons or some such thing….I mean, I would certainly have to get physically fit and I wasn’t sure I was ready to prepare for something like that!  So, I conveniently changed the subject and hoped she had forgotten anything about any “FitBit” challenge talk.

And then, a few days later, on another convo…. (Only Daughter, Beautiful Grand daughter #3 and me)….she mentioned it again!

Oh double darn!!!!

You see, I never want to disappoint my grand children, and she seemed so excited that we could do a challenge together, so I promised her that I would get out my FitBit the next day.

And I did.

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But first I pulled out this jumble of cords and chargers and noticed that the little computer was not in the slot on any of the bracelets.

I had purchased a pack of 3 bracelets two years ago… to switch out the bracelets to sorta match outfits and two remained in the pack and the red one had gone astray.

With the little computer in it.

I then remembered (it is amazing at which things I remember and which things I do not these days) but I remembered that I tend to go into my walk in closet and remove jewelry and place them on a silver tray that sits on the stack of drawers…… and sure enough, the red bracelet was there with the little computer intact…. Along with all kinds of necklaces, ear-rings and watches.

I triumphantly announced to her (by text) on our daily cell phone convo, that I had found my old “FitBit” 

Let us not discuss why this bracelet was not noticed for almost two years. 

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But I digress…the charger issue was my little “FitBit” computer could not click into the charger and I had to use pieces of folded paper to hold it in so it could charge

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 And then eventually, the folded paper ceased to work and so, I just quit wearing the bracelet. 

When I explained to my grand daughter that the charger had issues …..which was why I put it aside in Sept of 2014….she excitedly said:

“Oh Gma, all you have to do is call FitBit and they will send you a new charger and then we can begin our challenge”

Isn’t she helpful?????

The next day I called the FitBit Help line.

And a lady with a heavy foreign accent was asking me questions about “FitBit” parts that came with my fitbit, along with the date of purchase and the merchant where I purchased and all sorts of questions. 

Seriously?????  This was 2 years ago! Sometimes I can’t remember what happened five minutes ago and she is asking me about a very small, apparently integral piece of equipment called a dongle”!

She kept asking me:

“Where is your “dongle”

No, that is not a typo, and I am not even going to tell you what I thought I heard her say.

Sooooo I asked her to spell the word she was saying, but her heavy accent kept me from understanding even her spelling out the word.

I surmised that she must have been saying download!  It was the only word I could associate with something you “plugged” into a computer, so I went along with her when she said she would order the new charger and “download” and they would arrive in two days and at no charge!

It wasn’t until I checked my email for the confirmation email, that I realized she was saying “dongle” …

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and then…. almost instantaneously, my eyes moved from the screen message down to the left side of my keyboard and I saw “it”!

Yep, right there along side my mouse USB, was my old “dongle“!!!!! 

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Oh my gosh! 

I looked quickly back up at the invoice picture of the “dongle” and back at the USB side of my laptop!

Soooooo that is what she had been trying to say!  And here it was…my “dongle”.

I had that tiny little “dongle” piece all along.  It had never been removed from my laptop when I put my “FitBit” in the drawer.

I called the company back to tell them I had found my “dongle”...but I got someone else and they said in essence…don’t worry about it.

So now the challenge….Beautiful Grand daughter #3 said our goal is to get the most steps in a day…to see who can get in the most steps.

Thank goodness…this was going to be a piece of cake.  I mean, no contest because my grand daughter works behind a desk all day long and me?  well, I swim and I walk and I am sure I will be able to meet this challenge easily.

So, I added her in as a “friend” on my “FitBit”  and then I looked at her step “goal” and average.

9 k steps per day!!!!!!!!

I looked at my accumulated steps for my first day.

868 steps by 11:00 AM…well, I have been working on this post and checking emails and answering emails.

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Hey, don’t worrry!…..I got this!  I think I am up to the challenge!

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Chocolate and Strawberries….Yum!

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turtle dove

I just had to share this turtle dove watching me as I write this post.  His mate is sitting on the roof!…This turtle dove comes every day about this time to watch me.  He now sits on that pergola while I type.  You can see him looking in at me.

Love it!

Saturday, I went to one of our Farmers Markets and honestly, the big, juicy, red strawberries were calling my name.  They were huge! And I looked at them beside the carrots and smiled because I thought they sorta looked like fatter red carrots….but shorter.  OK, they did not really  resemble carrots…exactly, but I couldn’t resist buying them.  

After, I got home with my purchases from the Farmers Market….(If you haven’t tasted the huge Florida Sweets onions…, you need to do so!  yummy!)… I put everything away and put on my “paint clothes” to continue my quest of making over our home, starting with paint. There are sooooooo many walls and doors and woodwork…but I am taking it slowly and it gives me plenty of time to think while I paint.  To think about recipes and food and more food.

Very soon, my thoughts drifted towards those huge berries sitting on the shelf in the fridge.  My first thought was I should make strawberry shortcake.  However, I vetoed that idea because I didn’t want to cut up those nice strawberries.  I mean, they were so pretty.  So with each stroke of my paint brush…ideas were whirling through my head. 

I thought about Spring and fresh fruit trailing on the vine and new potatoes and slender green beans. My thoughts drifted to previous vegetable gardens and how much I enjoyed working in the rich, dark soil ….really getting my fingers dirty (altho, now I use gloves when potting plants)….none-the-less….I enjoyed working with dirt and growing our own beef steak tomatoes, carrots and green cabbages.  And of course I have always had strawberry plants. 

I miss that part of growing veggies….but I have found that here in Florida, I almost get as much satisfaction going to the Farmers Markets to purchase beautiful fruits and veggies…and lets face it, I don’t have to pull any weeds.  

Chocolate!!!! Yep, those huge berries were perfect for chocolate dipping! I was on a roll now…I knew the best scenario for chocolate dipping was in using strawberries that were at least 1 1/2 inches in diameter and these certainly topped that.  

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Of course I knew the Captain would certainly love strawberries dipped in semi sweet chocolate…and who doesn’t have several packages of semi sweet chocolate chips in their freezer? Or is that just me?…And I also keep white chocolate bark and dark chocolate bark in my freezer so all I needed to do was get everything assembled and start dipping strawberries.  You can use a double boiler to melt the chocolate or use a heat safe bowl over the top of a sauce pan of boiling water or you can use the microwave.  Just watch the chocolate closely so it does not seize up…if you use 50 % power, you should be ok.

Now here comes the fun part….I have seen kids projects in the past using crushed oreo cookies for dirt and planting candy flowers or sprinkling crumbled cookies on top of cupcakes and the list goes on.  

But, how about making a parfait out of layered whipped cream and chocolate pudding and crushed cookies and then “planting” strawberry carrots?  Uh huh, now we are talking!  

The process is easy…

To make the strawberry -carrots look like they are growing in the dirt…make up home made chocolate pudding or you can save time and use chocolate pudding in pudding cups! Crush up a few chocolate cookies (oreos would work fine) grab the cool whip and use clear glasses or little mason jelly jars.  You want to see all the levels of the “dirt”, pudding and whipped cream. 

Dip the strawberry carrots in orange tinted white chocolate….recipe below and put a few squiggles on them and place in the “dirt”…serve then well chilled.  

If you leave the strawberry tops on, I do believe they look like the carrots at the Farmers Market.  

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Ok, you might have to use your imagination a little bit! :).  

Got to get back to painting….sigh!

Hugs always ……

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Strawberries Dipped In Chocolate
Who doesn't love strawberries and chocolate? You might think of this as something for Valentines Day...but I like chocolate and strawberries any time of the year! Yum! Please note at the bottom to use only white chocolate to tint the strawberries to look like carrots.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pint of large chilled strawberries (about 9 large strawberries)
  2. *4 ounces of semisweet chocolate (use white chocolate if tinting orange)
  3. 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon of shortening (divided)
  4. 1 ounce of white baking chocolate
  5. 4 drops of red or pink food coloring AND if making the carrots, use orange food coloring to desired color
Instructions
  1. Wash strawberries and gently pat with paper towels until completely dry. (leave tops on)
  2. In a microwave safe bowl (or a double boiler) melt semisweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon of the shortning at 50 % power, stir until smooth
  3. Dip strawberries and place on a parchment paper or waxed paper lined baking sheet and place in the freezer for about 5 minutes to set the chocolate
  4. While the dipped strawberries are in the freezer (temporarily) microwave the white chocolate and remaining shortening at 30 % power until melted, stirring until smooth at intervals
  5. Add the food coloring and drizzle over the strawberries.
  6. Place in the fridge and serve
Notes
  1. *The white chocolate can be tinted any color...if making orange carrot looking strawberries, eliminate the semisweet chocolate and use all white chocolate and tint orange. for continuity, drizzle orange tinted white chocolate over the "carrots" to give a more carrot-y look.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Spring Is Bustin’ Out All Over!

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secret garden

Spring is bustin’ out all over!
All over the meadow and the hill!
Buds’re bustin’ outa bushes
And the rompin’ river pushes
Ev’ry little wheel that wheels beside the mill!

Ok, apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein!  For those of you who remember the musical “Carousel” ...you will know that the lyrics are June is bustin’ out all over!  Didn’t you just love the songs and music from that classic musical? Example:  “If I loved you” and  “I’ll never walk alone”…and of course a song that wasn’t as popular….my namesake’s song…..“Give it to ’em good Carrie”  when the fishermen wanted the clambake to get started and Carrie wire brushed them.

carousel

“Wire brushed them” is a phrase from my days at Boeing….an idiom that many co-workers used meaning to “scold or push back a bit”.  

Check out this link   Immortal Quotes from FS   Representatives   for my post on more such “idioms”:

But I digress……great musicals and idioms aside….Spring is bustin’ out all over in most of the parts of the country and that means…time to get outside and enjoy the weather…because if Spring is here, Summer is right around the corner which means lots of outdoor time.

Yesterday I posted about sprucing up your living areas inside your home and today we will talk about sprucing up our outdoor spaces.  Below is a pic from my front foyer or some could call it a front porch.

quiet morning

Time to dust off and wash off and give our outdoor space a few potted plants seating area and make an inviting place to sip lemonade or sweet tea.

I have to admit that I used to be one of those to buy a couple hanging baskets…hang them up and grab a chair (any old chair) and called it my out door Spring decorating.  

However, these days, I try to put more effort in decorating or sprucing up my outdoor spaces.  Below is a pic from my Secret Garden!

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I want my lanai and Secret Garden  (or porch and deck for readers up north) to feel more like a room instead of just a place for some potted flowers or a table with perhaps an umbrella.  It is true, some front porches are small and don’t leave room for chairs or even a small table to set your drinks….but what about your back decks or a patio or an area dedicated to a few chairs and a few other amenities.

I was looking through a few magazines and a few websites and found the following suggestions for outdoor spaces.

Keep in mind that some of these elements can be a bit expensive to add all at once, but my method is to take an idea from one or two, adapt it to my style and apply to an area in my own outdoor space.

So sit back and look at the pics and decide for yourself…what will fit for your outdoor space.

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outdoor decorating4

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outdoor decorating

I especially like the outdoor curtains in the pic above and last Spring, I too, put outdoor curtains on my lanai.  See pic below.

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Perhaps you remember that post, if not here is the link.  

Outdoor Curtains, Really!!!

My confession however, is I used painter drop cloths for curtains….and I have received so many compliments on these outdoor curtains and there is no sewing involved. Easy peasy!

So my dear readers,  choose whatever decorating tip or element that fits into your budget and your outdoor space and make it happen.

And if I were at your home….I would be sitting with you having a nice cold drink to start off the Spring/Summer season….that is if you would have me. πŸ™‚

Hugs and Blessings…

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Paint, Paint and More Paint!

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decorating 9

My dear readers, as you know I have been doing a bit of painting as I “make over” our home. (And before I forget…check out the recipe for low calorie chocolate chip muffins at the end of this post….sorry, but I am eating one of them as I type this post and it is delish!)

But back to talking paint.  I have to admit that I love the difference that a gallon of paint can make….everything seems fresh (and smells fresh)….ok, it is a paint smell but it is like starting with a clean slate.

But I have to warn you it can be addicting….You see each time I paint a room….it makes me want to get in that room and move stuff around and add things and remove things.  

AND…here is the best or worst part.  It makes me want to clean out closets and drawers! I have tossed out things that I have had (and moved) from house to house and it gives me such a feeling of …of…cleanliness?  No, don’t think that is the right word but it is certainly getting me organized.  

Yes, if you are getting ready to ask the question have I made any painting or decorating “mistakes”.  I certainly have but you know what? that is the circle of life.  We go through phases in our lives…. but I am constantly evolving.  And no, I would not call myself anything close to a minimalist….but I have eliminated a lot of …well, let me call it what it is…clutter!  And if your room is full of “clutter”, perhaps it is time to have a huge garage sale?

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I don’t know where the “permanent” decorating of a home began for some of us…but apparently, we “decorate” when we first move in to a home and then it is set in stone that the rooms should remain that way for the next 10 (or twenty) years!  ALONG with the accumulation of “stuff” that makes our rooms not only cluttered but stagnant!

Yikes!!!!

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I am the first to admit that there was a time when I had gold appliances….AND I matched the appliances with a wall paper back splash that is still available today!

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But I moved on.

I challenge you my dear readers…take a look around your home…is your room looking the same as it did many years ago?  

I am not saying to go out and buy all new furniture…especially if you made great furniture choices of good furniture several years ago.   But if they have fabric…say on a sofa or chair…and that fabric is a bit faded, frayed or showing lots of wear, think about having it recovered with a different fabric. OR is your dining room furniture beginning to show a few nicks and dings and looking a bit dated.  Have you thought about refinishing the pieces or  (yes, I am going to say it…) painting them?

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And while you are at it…are you covering up beautiful hardwood flooring with outdated shag carpeting?  

I have to raise my hand on that one.  Years ago, I covered up all my hardwood floors with carpeting.  What was I thinking?  And it was avocado green carpeting!  I mean seriously, what WAS I thinking? Well, in my defense…I lived in the cold Midwest and carpet felt so much nicer on my bare feet than cold hardwoods.  I know, I could have worn socks OR shoes. πŸ™‚

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The stairway above?  I had an acquaintance who had a stairway that looked just like this one only the shag carpet was bright orange and the wall paper was orange too.

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But I’m sure you understand what I am trying to say.  No matter what your style of decorating, there comes a time when you should perhaps take a step back and really look at your room(s). Have they looked the same as they did in the 1970’s? the 80’s? the 90’s? Is the decorating in your room your style or did it just evolve when you added pieces over the last couple decades?

decorating style

And did you know that a decade is only 10 years?  My how time flies, huh? 

Perhaps it is time to remove the outdated wall paper and find a fresh new pattern or paint your room.  

Look at your kitchen flooring…is that what you like and prefer?  And did you know that white appliances are really on trend now?

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Now, some may say…I like the retro look and there is certainly nothing wrong with having a decorated room from the 80’s style.  My suggestion is to see what you can update in that room.  Something to make it fresh again and still keep the look you prefer. Lighten it up, brighten it up, paint it up, reupholster it up, and I think you will be pleased with just a few minor changes.  OR, go for a completely new style!

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I repeat…look at your room….when was the last time you changed it up a bit? Shop your own home and kick it up a notch….Remove pictures and add pictures from other rooms.  Change out the rug or paint your fireplace mantle or add a fireplace mantle if there is not one there. Repaint your fireplace surround (with heat proof paint of course)  or re-arrange the clutter in your dining room hutch…..endless possibilities!  

You will be amazed at how much you will love your rooms with just a little touch up. Change out that rusty kitchen faucet, or re-stain or paint your cabinets.

Now, if you will excuse me…my break is over…I have been enjoying the delicious Chocolate Chip muffins (see recipe below) and sipping on my morning coffee, while typing this post…and now    I need to finish my painting job….

Oh, and here is a tip in case you don’t know.  I put my paint brush in a zip lock plastic baggie and covered my paint pan with aluminum foil…..no sense it rinsing out brushes when I am going to get right back to them.

Have a great day and beginning to your week.

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Recipe Card

Low Fat Muffins ...and with chocolate chips!
Banana and chocolate chips...yum yum!
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Ingredients
  1. 3 large bananas, mashed
  2. 1⁄2 cup white sugar
  3. 1 egg, beaten
  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  6. 1 cup flour
  7. 1⁄2 cup rolled oats (can use instant)
  8. 1⁄3 cup applesauce
  9. 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  10. 1⁄2 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Add sugar to mashed bananas and mix.
  2. Add beaten egg and mix.
  3. In a separate bowl mix all dry ingredients.
  4. Add dry ingredients to the banana mixture and mix well.
  5. Mix in applesauce.
  6. Add chocolate chips and Stir.
  7. Spoon into medium size muffin tin (I use paper muffin cups so they won’t stick) and fill 3/4’s full.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350.
Nutrition Info
  1. Serving Size: 1 (75 g)
  2. Servings Per Recipe: 12
  3. AMOUNT PER SERVING
  4. Calories 158.3
  5. Calories from Fat 26
  6. Total Fat 2.9 g
  7. Saturated Fat 1.5 g
  8. Cholesterol 15.5 mg
  9. Sodium 241.5 mg
  10. Total Carbohydrate 32.3 g
  11. Dietary Fiber 2 g
  12. Sugars 16.4 g
  13. Protein 2.7 g
  14. SmartPoints value : 7
Adapted from Weight Watchers
Adapted from Weight Watchers
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/
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