My Christmas Gift from Nature: A Still Blue Jay

This little blue jay sat squawking on our fence long enough for John to go grab the camera and for me to change the lens.  It hangs around quite a bit.  The neighbor’s have a huge live oak that shades their entire back yard and a small part of ours.  Live oaks are a favorite of blue jays.  But up until today, I had been seeing it, hearing it, and snapping photos through the window.  Finally, I got my shot.

Time to Pick the Lettuce

Our winter harvest is coming.  Although I was in no mood for a salad, the first head still got plucked yesterday.  The single-decker turkey clubs were fab.  Now we wait for the carrots…

Atomic Christmas Weekend

My big household accomplishment for the weekend was getting the tree up.

And today I got paid to go to the kookiest, funkiest, liveliest, funniest “mother truckin’ craft show” and one of my personal favorites for all those adjectives just listed: The Atomic Holiday Bazaar.  I tried my best to leave with nothing more than a lot of notes but couldn’t leave this silly T-shirt on the hanger when it suits my boy-genius brother so well (one of three brothers who don’t read my blog so no spoilers here).

Strolling Marina Jack

Luke may have been wearing the leash, but he was the one calling the shots.  As we were leaving Marina Jack, he walked Ella straight to the scent of burgers at O’Leary’s…twice.  He hit up both entrances. While strolling, we saw birds of two varieties.  Water birds:I think the bird above is a willet, and I know the bird below is a cormorant.And now for the second variety of bird: snow birds setting up camp for tonight’s Christmas Boat Parade of Lights.

Celery Fields at Sunset

Celery Fields has to be one of my new favorite spots.  I’ve visited in both the morning and afternoon, so it was time to check out the sunset.  No disappointments here, although the water was shockingly low since my last visit a month ago.

Still, there’s enough for the birds.

Above is a Limpkin wading; its nickname is the crying bird.  Being a novice birder, that’s the only way I’m absolutely positive this was a Limpkin.  It wouldn’t stop squawking, and the squawks were loud.

Below is a flock of Sandhill Cranes, which a park regular directed us too.  We had been to that spot earlier and didn’t see any, but he said to go back because they fly in about the same time each night.   It was right around sunset at 5:30; they were wading in the first pond along the trail off Palmer Avenue.

If you don’t see any birds in the water, just look up to the sky and the area’s ample power lines.  I think the first photo is a flock of glossy ibis…if anyone can tell me otherwise, please do.

And one more shot of sunset…

Sarasota Tough Mudder 2012

I covered it, “Tough” challenge mixed mud, sweat and beers, but my brother raced in it!

And he’s still walking today!  Impressive, especially to someone like me.  This sticker on the car next to mine pretty much sums up my thoughts on the subject.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

After feasting on a 16-pound bird and its leftover accompaniments for the last four days, all I can think now is “What are we going to eat for dinner tonight?” I truly have no clue.  From breakfast through dinner, every meal we’ve eaten since Thursday has been in some way reworked from our Thanksgiving dinner.

What to do with an already sliced baguette?  Three mornings worth of French toast, of course.  But don’t save this recipe for next November. Host a brunch just to try it.  It’s sweet and easy: my two favorite adjectives when talking recipes.

Leftover List

  • Half a bag of almonds leftover from a baked brie appetizer
  • Three-quarters of a sliced baguette


Next came the obvious: pot pies.  But these were personalized portions with puff pastry cups on top instead of crust.  There are more of these in our freezer.

Leftover List

  • Turkey
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Broth made from the carcass


Finally, the not-so-obvious: Baked salmon.

Leftover List

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Citrus slices leftover from sangria


  • Citrus Baked Salmon with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

No recipe needed for this one.  I pulled a salmon filet from the freezer and placed all the leftover slices of lemon, lime and orange around it in the plastic bag.  About 20 minutes before baking, I added some soy sauce to the salmon bag and roasted a bulb of garlic to add to the remaining mashed potatoes.  Delicious and not turkey.  It was the variety we needed on day four of leftovers.  I was so happy to have it all gone last night, and now I’m hungry and missing it…til next Thanksgiving week.

This photo is simply a reference for the next time John says Luke doesn’t pull his weight around here.  He helps clean the kitchen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The sangria was delicious, and the turkey John drove to Ruskin to get was even better.  Farm fresh is the way to go.  Now for the family photos.  First up is the one where we promised Dylan if he smiled nice…

…then he could do this in the next picture…

Fun with a Juicer

My father bought a juicer because he was in the process of losing 60 pounds.  Good use…healthy.  Better use…sangria.  Although Dad kept the weight off, he quickly tired of juicing, which was not a huge or unwelcome surprise.  I think my sister got his old bread machine.  And since he doesn’t do cheap, I inherited a juicer that’s motor sounds like a plane taking off.

When he gave it to me, I said, “So this is the best juicer money can buy, huh?”  He said, “Nope, they were out.  That’s the second best juicer money can buy.”  But his description of the process was so tedious and time-consuming that it’s just been sitting in my cabinet.  The prospect of good health surely didn’t spur me to dust it off, but the prospect of good sangria for Thanksgiving—yeah, baby!  Here are my apples:  Here is my juice:

My father exaggerates so much I expected a tablespoon; but not bad, there’s at least over a cup.  I forgot how pained he is by the smallest of chores.  It’s actually fun.  The whole apple fits in the chute, and when you push it down, it makes a great swoosh sound as it explodes into juice and foam.  Oh, how my sister and I will be toasting to our father’s ever-coming and quickly-forgotten obsessions over fresh sangria tomorrow night.  Cheers, Stacy!  I’m juicing oranges and cranberries next.

Bringing the outdoors in

When we first moved into this house, I was so excited about the Florida room.  Because it’s so Florida, of course, just a room full of windows to capture our state’s most acclaimed asset: the sunshine.  I thought how great it would be to have plants growing on both sides of the windows—vines outside and potted plants inside.  Just last week, I was thrilled when having left the door open, a gulf fritillary butterfly flew in and circled the sunny room for a good 15 minutes.

I was less thrilled with today’s visitor…

It took me 45 minutes with a push broom as my weapon and knee-high galoshes as my armor to get the damn thing out of the house.

Dream shattered…I no longer want to bring the outdoors in.  Outside, please!