Archive for November, 2014

They Are Certainly Faithful!

They Are Certainly Faithful…!

I am referring to Ozzie and Harriet…the two eagles who have returned to their nest year after year in the Fort Myers area!

They are back and they now have two eggs in their nest…just like last year.

Please see the link from last year’s nesting, that I featured on my Blog: Eagle Cam and Ozzie and Harriet

The majestic eagles’ nest is about 5 miles from our home and we have ventured out to see them in person.

We parked in the church parking lot not too far from the nest.

The nest in the tree

The nest in the tree

But the best view is the Eagle Cam which is two cameras set up in the trees by the property owner, Dick Pritchett.

Sunrise at the nest

Sunrise at the nest

This pic is of the sunrise this morning and the nest.

And just like last year, you can monitor these two loyal parents sitting on the nest through strategically placed cameras.

This is a pic I got last night from the eagle cam as Ozzie and Harriet switched places.  you can see the two eggs.

This is a pic I got last night from the eagle cam as Ozzie and Harriet switched places. you can see the two eggs.

The following disclaimer is on the website.  

“Eagles are wild birds and anything can happen in the wild. The Southwest Florida Eagle Cameras do not interfere or intervene and allow nature to take its course. You will see life and you might see death, but this is nature at her finest.”

 I just checked and at the moment there are 503 viewers watching these eagles.

This is Ozzie

This is Ozzie

Ozzie just took over the egg baby sitting at 6:23 am this morning.  Harriet flew off to relax a bit.

She watched over the eggs all last night…and let’s face it…she needed a rest!

I can relate to that! πŸ™‚

This is Harriet

This is Harriet sitting on the nest early last evening

Perhaps you would like to take a moment or two and look at the eagles on the Eagle cam.

Just click or cut and paste into your browser, the following link.

You can see and hear the traffic on the road which has never bothered the eagles in their relentless task of sitting on the nest.

It is fascinating to watch these two parents take care of the nest and the precious eggs….you can watch them live and actually hear them as they use their “eagle speak”

But I must warn you…once you get started watching and listening to them….it is difficult to stop watching.

I know of what I speak! πŸ™‚

the eagles6


They are fascinating birds….

And you will find interesting information about the nest and the differences in appearance of Ozzie and Harriet on the website!

I just love all God’s creatures and I really love these two eagles.

Just like a guy…at this very moment, Ozzie is rearranging twigs, etc around the nest….apparently, he didn’t like the way Harriet left the nest this morning! πŸ˜‰

Have a great week-end!





Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers and their families……

I will make this post brief, as I know this is indeed a busy day of cooking and being with family!


Thanksgiving 2014 1

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I would like to share this bit of wisdom (by Melody Beattie) with you on this Thanksgiving Day…


β€œGratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

secret garden

Message from My Secret Garden… 

He has shown kindness

by giving you rain from heaven

and crops in their seasons

He provides you with plenty of food

and fills your hearts with  joy.

Acts 14:17


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  





The Second Time Around…

The Second Time Around…

In keeping with the theme of small intimate groups…I invited a few more Florida ladies to a Celebration of Winter!, based on a Frozen Theme Supper.

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It was easy entertaining as I used the same menu and tablescape.

Either I am not too original or I am terribly smart. πŸ™‚


Read more »

Celebration of Winter!

Celebration of Winter!

Yes, believe it or not….lots of people celebrate Winter.  

Those who live in the Northlands of this world, obviously celebrate Winter… or they wouldn’t choose to live in the many, many deep freeze parts of the country!

I spoke the other day with a gentleman who lived in North Dakota…and I commented about the extreme icy and cold conditions of his state at that time.

I was a bit in awe as he started describing the many reasons why he lived in North Dakota…or as he pronounced it, North Duh-Coe-Dah!… and how much he enjoyed the colder temperatures!

No, he wasn’t just giving me the “bizness”…as we used to say in years gone by…he was being very sincere, and obviously the Census proves that there are those who love Winter!

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New Mexico Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup is not a soup that I grew up with, ….but this New Mexico Butternut Squash Soup has earned it’s place in my recipe box!

My grandma on my Mother’s side (or my Mother’s Mother), made this soup… but I usually turned up my nose when I watched her prepare the squash.

However, I have always used different squashes to decorate my cornucopia or to place with my pumpkin displays.


I liked the way the large, pale beige-y color… with it’s crooked neck and big bottom… looked beside my pumpkins and other colored squashes.

Perhaps, I related to the big bottom and felt the need to include this odd looking butternut squash in my Fall decorating as soon as it started appearing in my supermarket and Farmer’s Markets! πŸ˜‰

Whatever, the reason….soups define Autumn! 

I love watching large orange and yellow leaves drift from the trees and even though we live in Florida, there are still trees that shed their colored leaves.

It is just not as spectacular as the Autumn Foliage in New England and in the Midwest! 

I love creamy soups from the chowders of the MidAtlantic area and I love the spicy soups of the Southwest area!

This recipe combines both… and the butternut squash gets to shine!

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

I have tasted butternut squash soup that has a definite flavor but which also tastes a bit bland.

So I have spiced it up with a little Southwestern, (New Mexico in particular) flair.

The first thing I have heard from those who have worked with these large squashes is how hard it is to prepare before cooking.

Not true….just cut off the top and bottom and slice in half.  Then scoop out the seeds and place the cut side down on a cutting board and peel with a vegetable peeler!


Just remember to use a sharp knife when cutting into cubes.

And the good news is, the cubing can be done a few days ahead and stored in the fridge until you are ready to use.

AND…another bit of good news….this soup adapts readily to a paleo diet or vegan soup if you use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

AND…if you think you need to see meat chunks in your soup…try adding crumbled, cooked sausage after the soup is pureed.

See?  Something for everyone! 

Perhaps this could go on your Thanksgiving table…after all, it is a Fall veggie!

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So dear readers…do you like Butternut squash? 

If, not…please try this recipe and I think you will come away with a better opinion of this vegetable.

And perhaps you will cook with it as well as use it for your Fall Decor! πŸ™‚




Have a great week-end!





New Mexico Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 4
New Mexico spices give this.... normally kind of bland soup, lots of flavor!
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  1. 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1 cup chopped onion
  4. 2 chopped jalapeΓ±o peppers, seeds removed
  5. 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  6. 2 teaspoons cumin
  7. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  8. 1 teaspoon paprika
  9. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  10. 1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper
  11. 4 cups of chicken stock
  12. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  13. 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
  14. 1 lime, juiced
  1. Cut the top and bottom off the squash and slice down the middle...remove the seeds and chop into 1 inch cubes. Using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, remove the skins.
  2. Toss the cubed squash in olive oil and spread on a baking sheet in a 425 degree oven until the squash is soft and has some roasted color
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot, saute the onions and jalapenos in olive oil for about 7-8 minutes
  4. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, paprika, cinnamon, chipotle pepper and salt and white pepper and cook for about a minute until the flavors begin to blend.
  5. Remove the roasted squash from the oven and add to the onion and spice mixture.
  6. Add the chicken stock to the mixture, and bring to a boil, before reducing the heat to a low simmer.
  7. Cool the soup slightly before adding to a blender or food processor to puree. (I use a stick blender right in the pot)
  8. When the consistency of the soup is to your liking....add the lime juice.
  1. Before serving, I like to add a little sour cream, sliced green onions and cilantro...makes it pretty and tastes good too!
  2. You can cube the squash a few days ahead and store in fridge until ready to make the soup.
Me and My Captain

Apple Butternut Squash

    • Apple Butternut Squash is a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving feast!

  •  Apples, Butternut Squash, Cranberries, Walnuts…..great combination!


 Apple Butternut Squash is a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving Feast.

In the past, the Captain mentioned that there were only a couple foods he didn’t like …and one of those foods was Squash!


Well, you know I love a challenge and so I started preparing squash soup…he likes this thick and creamy soup and he found that he liked this wonderful casserole, too.

Yes, he really likes it….he really does! 

(Sorry, I was taking a spin-off of the movie Norma Rae…and  actress Sally Fields’ Oscar speech!…..ok, never mind!)

I knew it would just take a little sweetness… not on my part….but on the part of the fruits, veggies and pure maple syrup on the top of the squash to win the Captain over! πŸ˜‰

Well, I can be sweet too!


This recipe can be made quick and easy.

You could microwave the squash for a few minutes to assist with the cooking time, making it an even quicker casserole.

The Butternut squash has sort of gotten a bad rap in the past, but I truly believe it is coming into it’s own as a great tasting Fall veggie.

Have you used Butternut squash in your cooking?






Apple Butternut Squash
When we think of Fall and Thanksgiving...Fall fruits and vegetables simply tumble from our cornucopias and other decor....combining squash, apples and cranberries make this dish a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving feast.
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  1. 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices (or you can cube)
  2. 2 large granny smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (or you can cube)
  3. 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  4. 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  5. 1/2 tablespoon flour
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/4 teaspoon ground mace (if you don't have mace, substitute nutmeg)
  8. 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
  9. 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Arrange the sliced or cubed squash and apples into a baking dish (9X13)
  2. Sprinkle the cranberries over the top
  3. In a small bowl, Mix together brown sugar, butter, flour, salt, walnuts and mace.
  4. Spread the sugar mixture over the top of the veggies and fruit
  5. Bake, covered with foil in a preheated 375 degree oven for about an hour or until the squash is tender.
  1. Add 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup, 5 minutes before squash is done. It makes a caramelized extra goodness and helps kids to like squash. πŸ˜‰ And maybe some adults too!
Me and My Captain

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Are you frozen to the bone where you live?

It is chilly here in Florida, but it is not expected to last very long…it is 47 degrees and no sun, but should warm up into the 60’s later today.

However, my children living in the Midwest are telling me the weather is very cold.

Six degrees in Kansas City yesterday and there are places in Boston and Buffalo who have not only the lower temperatures, they have snow.

Lots of snow.

I don’t know if you have snow where you are, but here are a few pictures of …..SNOW!

Does it make you want to build a snowman or just stay inside where it is warm and cozy?














I can remember shoveling snow and having the snow truck come by and bury my car….














As happened in this photo in Boston…..














This poor guy is really in deep snow.














I would say this snow is just too deep!














I am sure the kids are happy!














I’m not quite sure what the reasoning (for cars parked in the middle of the cul-de-sac) was in this picture…














I wonder if the dead end sign is for the snow plows!














Let’s see…my car was parked 6th row and 8 cars in….:)














I really like this picture….not saying I would want to be on the other side of the lens….














You knew I would have to get an airplane or two in a pic …now didn’t you?

Stay warm, my dear readers…..where ever you are.

But if you want to build a snow man…go for it!  

The hot chocolate waiting inside will warm you up!!!! 

I am making my “frozen” day good… by making hot chocolate with mini marshmallows!

Princess or no Princess…I don’t think I could live in an ice castle….:)





Everything But The Squeal!

Everything But The Squeal!

I am sure you have heard this old saying in reference to a hog and the parts that are edible.

Some may say…everything but the oink! or everything but the snout!…or other parts of the pig not used for processing pork into the good parts we love…like the ham, chops, bacon or sausage, etc.


Well, the Captain happens to love Scrapple! 

And Scrapple has as a main ingredient…hog’s head.

Now before you get as turned off as I did about using the bits and pieces of “head meat” to make up a breakfast meat…let me give you a little bit of background.

Scrapple supposedly originated in the Mid-Atlantic states….Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia, by the Pennsylvania Dutch, Mennonites and Amish.

scrapple5Nothing went to waste and so scraps of meat that were left over from butchering pigs or hogs…. was made into a “Spam” like loaf called Scrapple, or Pon Haus.


Scrapple frying up in a cast iron skillet

Even though this breakfast dish was made from meat boiled from a hog’s head….I have found that I can substitute ANY chopped pork and I find that a bit more palatable.

When combined with cornmeal, chicken broth and spices, it can actually be quite good. 

But I must tell you that the original recipe calls for  a boiled hog’s head, that has been picked of the bits and pieces… and the broth saved for the Scrapple.


I adapted this recipe from one of my old Amish cookbooks and even though the Captain prefers the original recipe….this one works for me! πŸ˜‰

You could use a pork butt that has been boiled on the stove…then chopped into pieces.  (Save the pork broth)

Either way, you are using one or the other end of the pig…unless you use pork chops!

Forgive my weird humor! πŸ™‚ 

You can find Scrapple in most supermarkets in the Mid-Atlantic Regions which will be made the original way…AND the Captain and I  have found a couple restaurants down here in Florida that have Scrapple on their breakfast menu.

So tell me dear readers….have you eaten or made Scrapple the original way?

If so, did you like it?





Oh, you might have guessed that the Captain grew up in the state of Pennsylvania!

Yep!  That explains it doesn’t it? πŸ™‚

Scrapple is a breakfast dish similar to Spam in that it has pieces of meat that has been boiled off of a hog's head. Combined with cornmeal and spices, this Amish recipe originated using everything on a butcher pig except the squeal. I have modified this recipe to use chopped pork...and chicken broth and it tastes delicious!
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  1. 3 quarts of chicken broth
  2. 2 cups cornmeal
  3. 2 cups of chopped pork ( a pork butt or chops or even sausage will work)
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  6. 2 teaspoons dried sage
  7. 1 teaspoon marjoram
  1. In a large kettle, bring the broth to a boiling point and pour in enough of the cornmeal to make a thick mush.
  2. Stirring constantly, add in the chopped pork and the spices
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes
  4. Pour the pork mixture into loaf pans or a rectangular shaped pan to about 3/4 full
  5. Let it cool to room temperature and then place into the fridge overnight
  6. Slice and fry in non-stick pan (or use a cast iron skillet to which a bit of oil has been added...that is the way I make it)
  7. Serve with syrup like you would a pancake, and eggs and toast.
  1. Be careful not to burn your mush, but the mush should be pretty thick so that the Scrapple will solidify when placed in the fridge. Add more broth or water if it gets too thick.
Me and My Captain

Christmas Cinnamon Pickles

Christmas Cinnamon Pickles!  

I think you can tell that I am on a “canning kick”!  I get that way when the weather cools off and there are lots and lots of garden veggies that are just asking to be preserved for those winter months. 

Even if you are in a cold weather climate and your garden has long since disappeared….you can still make these pickles by buying regular cucumbers at your supermarket.

You don’t need the small pickling cucumbers! πŸ™‚

cinnamon pickles6.

These are so pretty to set out on your Christmas Dinner table and they taste so yummy!

This recipe has been in my recipe file for years and years and I remember my grandmother making these for Christmas as they are so bright red from the cinnamon and red hots.

They almost look like glass and are almost too pretty to eat.

I have made these from time to time, but I have to tell you they do have a process that takes some time…actually over 5 days.

Before you turn away and say…too much work for my busy days…let me say that there is only one small task each day and then you return to your regular activities ignoring the pickles.

Let me show you the easy steps.

cinnamon pickles4.

First, you will need cucumbers which you will peel and seed.  

cinnamon pickles6.

This is relatively easy, just use a spoon to scrape out the seeds of the cucumber much like you would a cantaloupe.

cinnamon pickles7.

Then you cut into strips and then cubes.

You will need pickling lime and alum which can be found in your supermarket.

After cutting into cubes (or you can leave the long strips)….you add about 8 quarts of cold water into a glass bowl along with the lime…then add the cucumbers.

Let the cucumbers set in the lime water for 24 hours.

The next day (day 2) drain the lime water off and discard.

Wash the cucumbers and cover again with cold water and ice and soak for about 4 hours.

Drain and rinse again.

Then you make your brine mixture…add your cucumbers and simmer.

Drain them and make the syrup and add to the cucumbers and simmer some more.

Then you let the cucumbers stand overnight.

Day 3…drain the syrup from the cucumbers and reheat the syrup, and pour back over the cucumbers.

Day 4 Repeat the same process.

On Day 5….prepare the jars, drain off the syrup and save….pack the cucumbers into the jars…add the syrup and process.
cinnamon pickles4.
And there you have it! 
How simple was that?
Enjoy your pickles!  
I have to admit…we have been enjoying these pickles for a couple months now.
I hope there is a jar or two left for Christmas Dinner….:) 

 My dear readers, Have you made pickles?




Christmas Cinnamon Pickles
A wonderful treat of red, cinnamon-ey cubes of sweetness in a pickle. This recipe is so old...I can not even imagine the original date...It has been handed down generation to generation. It is not difficult to make...just a few extra steps over a period of 4 days, but believe me when I tell you they are simply delicious.
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  1. Cucumbers (about 32 medium size, peeled and seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes)
  2. 2 cups of lime
  3. 8 1/2 quarts of water
  4. 1 cup vinegar
  5. 1 ounce of red food coloring
  6. 1 tablespoon alum
  7. 4 cups vinegar
  8. 4 cups water
  9. 15 cups sugar
  10. 8 cinnamon sticks
  11. 1 pkg of red hots (about 1 cup)
First day
  1. Combine cucumber cubes, lime, and water and let set at room temperature over night (at least 24 hours) stirring occasionally.
  2. Drain and rinse and soak 3 additional hours in clear water and drain.
  3. Mix 1 cup of the vinegar, red food coloring, and alum.
  4. Place the cucumber cubes in large stockpot and cover with water.
  5. Add the above food coloring mixture and simmer for 2 hours
  6. Drain and discard all the liquid
  7. To the stockpot, add the 4 cups of vinegar, 4 cups of water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and red hots. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. (You will use this mixture to pour over the cucumber cubes everyday for 3 days)
  8. I place my cucumber cubes in an old crock that I have had for many years...but you can use any large container you may have.
  9. After bringing the red hot mixture to a boil, I pour the mixture over the cucumber cubes in my crock. Cover with cheesecloth and let set in a cool place for 24 hours.
  10. The next day, pour off the liquid from the cucumber cubes and into a saucepan. Reheat to boiling.
  11. Pour the liquid over the drained cucumber cubes, cover and repeat the process for two more days (3 days total)
  12. On the 4th day, place the cucumber cubes and the syrup liquid into a large stockpot and boil the entire combined mixture for about 5 minutes.
  13. Ladle the cucumbers into sterilized jars (and lids), adding enough syrup to each jar to keep cucumber cubes in liquid.
  14. Place sealed jars in a "canner" (or stockpot of boiling water) and process for 20 minutes.
  1. I use quart jars as these cinnamon pickles do not last long once opened. They are that good and well worth the extra effort it takes to make.
  2. This recipe makes about 7 quarts of the cinnamon pickles...but you may use pint jars if you prefer.
Me and My Captain

Lost in the 50’s Tonight!

Lost in the 50’s Tonight!

Last week I celebrated a birthday…and the Captain took me to a little diner called the Starlight Diner here in our little city.

So this is going to be a restaurant review as well as a drift back in time.

Do you remember the Ronnie Milsap song….“Lost in the 50’s tonight”?

If you want to go down memory lane while looking at the pics in this post….just click on the “Featured Video” on the upper right corner of my home page, and listen to the song. πŸ˜‰

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And there has to be a 57 Chevy and a jukebox!

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Plus many other nostalgic items, such as 45’s and drive in movie theater speakers!

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Who can forget the black and white floor tiles?

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And the view of the kitchen…..

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The Captain had sweet potato fries and roast beef sandwich.

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And I had to go with “diner” food…that is meat loaf and mashed potatoes. 

I use lots of black pepper…helps me to not long for more salt! πŸ˜‰

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Corn served in a melamine cup! Remember those?

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 A local food/restaurant critic gave a good review…as did we!

The food was excellent….the place clean as a whistle….the nostalgia was complete!

This diner serves breakfast all day long, as well as daily specials!

Yes, the Captain and I were lost in the 50’s along with Ronnie Milsap

I know what you are thinking…there goes that romanticism again!

And you would be right! πŸ™‚

Yes, I realize this would only benefit locals or Snow Birds passing through!

But who knows?  Perhaps you will visit us one day and we’ll “take you there….”

(But that is another song isn’t it?)   πŸ˜‰





Starlight Diner

 This meal was independently paid for.


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