Category Archives: Fun Stuff

Inspired Hostess/Bread and Butter Gifts ~ making merry

 

Coasters

I’m moving into a new condo and my mind is running to all things home/homey. Honestly, I’m NOT asking anyone to bring me a gift, but I am thinking of all of the holiday celebrations and house parties I can have in this larger home. As a teenager (in an era gone by) my friends and I spent a lot of time learning about etiquette and entertaining. At that time it was something girls/women learned (and I think it’s something boys/men need to learn). I’m often saddened by how little people think about customs and amenities. I think it’s important to preserve heritage and legacy. I still enjoy pouring over my cookbooks, especially the holiday ones, looking at table-scapes.

1 Peter 4: 8-9 [New International Version] ~ 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

On that note…it’s a good rule-of-thumb that unless you’ve been asked by the hostess/host to bring a food-item, such as the salad, always bring a small gift to dinner or to a house party. These have been called Hostess Gifts and/or Bread and Butter Gifts. This gift should be something the hostess/host can easily handle while performing all the duties required of him/her in making guests comfortable. My gal-pals and I have a ten-dollar limit on all gifts (birthday, Christmas, etc.). If you don’t know the host/hostess that well, shoot for $10 – $15. If you’re on a very strict budget, don’t turn down an invite because you can’t afford a gift. Go to Dollar General or an off-price store and purchase a gift that looks as if it cost ten dollars.

Coasters make a wonderful gift and are extremely useful to the person who loves to entertain. They can never have too many coasters.

kitchen utensils

Kitchen utensils are something everyone can use. They could be wooden, or plastic in bright colors, or in black/white. There are even whimsical ones. I’ve seen a salad spoon set with a bride painted on one spoon in non-toxic paint and the groom painted on the other. Super cute.

hand soaps

Hand soaps are practical and beautiful. I like both practical and beautiful. There are wonderful scented soaps and they come both in bars and in liquid form in pumps. These are readily available in super markets, drug stores, off-price stores. You could even throw in a scrub. A twist on this would be shower gels or environmentally friendly kitchen soaps.

herbed oil

Herbed cooking oil is terrific for the hostess/host know as a gourmet cook. You could add a container of Himalayan pink sea salt, or any other small gourmet item…and bon appetite!

A box of chocolates, the old stand by, is always fun. The hostess/host can open it and put it our for guests. More than a few people at the party will love chocolate.

Things not to bring, or to be cautious with.

Uncut flowers you get at the supermarket or other markets is not a good idea. The hostess/host will be in a better outfit. She/he will have to go find a vase that fits, or will have to cut the flowers to a vase he/she has and mix in the powder that comes with the flowers. This is messy and will take her/him about ten minutes. Bringing flowers in a vase is also not a good idea because someone may be allergic. Scented candles have the same problems with allergies. Be sure you know your host/hostess will use them.

Wine and liquor should only be brought if you know your host/hostess will drink it, and if you know what they like to drink. Don’t bring a $12 bottle of wine to a wine connoisseur. It will sit in the back of their wine cabinet for years.

Never bring dessert. Never. The host/hostess will feel obligated to put yours out and they won’t know what to do with the one they’ve made.

 

 

 

 

 


Warm Greek Pasta Salad ~ yum

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The Finish!

I saw this recipe on a food website and the photo looked sooo good, but then the photos usually do. So, I said to myself, “Self, let’s try it”…and of course, I made some changes.

Note: I live alone and cook for one. However, I usually prepare food for two or three and freeze what I don’t eat for another meal. This recipe can be easily doubled.

So, let’s start with the warm part.

Boil water and cook 2 C of whole wheat pasta according to directions.

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Then, in a large skillet (I have a ceramic one I love that’s a semi-wok), liberally spray olive oil pan-spray,  saute 1/2 C roughly chopped red onion, 1 tsp minced garlic (I used the jarred variety), 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Cook until the onion begins to become translucent.

Add 1/2 a package of frozen chopped spinach (I used organic). When it appears to need more pan spray, I add 1/4 C water and let it steam. Also add 1/2 tsp jarred vegetable bouillon. I use very little salt and the bouillon has enough for me. Taste to see if you need to add salt. When thoroughly cooked, as seen above, add 4 tsp red wine vinegar and stir through. Turn off the burner and let it cool…but it will still be warm. Note: Don’t be afraid to taste as you cook. Professional cooks keep forks and spoons handy for tasting.

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Add the cooked whole wheat pasta to the spinach mixture. If you want to get rid of starch, first rinse the pasta with warm water, then add to skillet. (Note: I placed two portions into plastic containers. One I saved for later in the week, one I froze. Then later, when thawed and warmed, I would add the fresh ingredients.) But, this recipe if for the entire amount.

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Place entire amount of warm, cooked ingredients in serving dish large enough to add 1 C of sliced Kalamata olives, 2 chopped fresh plum tomatoes, [Note: You can use 1 1/2 C sliced cherry tomatoes. I think grape tomatoes are too small.] 2 Tbsp virgin olive oil (I used organic), 9 oz of crumbled feta cheese. Gently mix. That might seem like a lot of Feta, but it’s the protein for this dish.

This serves three for dinner, four for lunch. It can be easily doubled. You can serve it with a loaf of rustic bread. I don’t because I eat lowish/lower carb. Of course, if I have guests, I’d serve it with a loaf of bread and olive oil on the side to dunk the bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Bunnies ~ in my bookcase

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I’ve got my plush bunnies, a little lamb, candle eggs, as well as a few Easter mugs I’d received as gifts…all arranged in my bookcase. There are a few more Eastery items placed here and there around the house. They make me feel happy.

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” ~ Abraham Lincoln.

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”  ~  John 15:11 [New American Standard Bible]

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22 [New Kind James Version]


Ale Pie House ~ restaurant review

Ale Pie 1

Menu

This place is similar to an Italian restaurant/cafe in NYC. They have thin pie crusts like I’m used to from my years in Brooklyn. They also have their own delish specialty pies. They’re near my veterinarian. So, if I ever have to leave a pet off and am in need of comfort food…it is near at hand.

I’ve been here twice. Once with a large group of Christian women who dine out once a month. We had an abfab time and everyone said their food was very good. I had to be challenging. I asked them to make a New York style thin crust pie like I used to order in Brooklyn. I asked for one side of the pie to have sliced meatballs and the other side anchovies. They’d never had anyone ask for that. Still they made it and it was excellent.

Ale Pie 2

Grilled Chicken Pie, it’s got broccoli

The next time I came with two friends. We all ordered specialty pies. Mine was the Florence Pie. It was the first time I’ve ever had pickles on pizza. Very good. This is a go-to place for me.

They also have salads, Italian entrees, and luscious desserts.

This review first appeared in Yelp.

 
 
Ale Pie House
3951 St Johns Ave
Jacksonville, FL 32205

Westside ~ 904-503-8000

 

Ale Pie 4

This one they made up special too. It’s half white pie and I think it’s half veggie. Can’t recall what my friend asked for.

Ale Pie 3

They call it Pesto Pie, with pesto, goat cheese, pineapple and olives. Interesting combo

 

 

 

 

 


Gingerbread House Extravaganza, JAX ~ out with the girls

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Moi kissing the Gingerbread Man

I roll with a group of gals calling ourselves Christian Gals Dining & Doing-JAX. Six of us went to see the amazing gingerbread houses displayed at the Jacksonville Historical Society in Old St. Andrews. Tis the season…

The gingerbread houses had already been judged and blue ribbons were given out in several categories. The structures were made of gingerbread and held together with a strong icing. In many cases fonant covered them. Many other candies and foods were used in ingenious ways: candy canes, pretzels, twizlers, marshmallows, life savers, jellied candies, Swiss rolls, bread, cereal, and much more.

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Visitors voted for a “people’s choice type” award. I voted for this one: The Mandarin Garden Club. The work one on it was incredible. If you look through the door, a woman is sitting.

 

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That woman is Harriet Beecher Stowe author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” She lived in Mandarin, a community in Jacksonville.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This 1950s Florida ranch home came close to being my “people’s choice.” The house is lit up from withing and people are inside

 

 

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Theater Jacksonville, or the Little Theatre ~ live stage productions

 

 

 

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San Marco Theatre & Grill ~ showing first run movies and offering up eats, beer and wine

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Jacksonville Central Fire Station No 1

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Jacksonville Beach Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps.

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The life story of Jesus. Holding onto the silver knob the exhibit can be rotated from the birth of the Christ Child to the cross.

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The life story of Jesus. Holding onto the silver knob the exhibit can be rotated from the birth of the Christ Child to the cross.

 

 

 

There were so many more to see: the Jaguar den at the zoo, a cabin made by a nine-year-old, the historical Myers and Halstead Farm, a rendition of the North Pole, a scape of little huts by a second grade class, a salute of Jules Verne, and so much more.

 

 

The Hurrican Irma tree with bark from trees and varieouspieces of wood found in the aftermath used as its ornamentation, as well as photos of the destruction.


Trinity Baptist Trunk & Treat ~ such fun

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Deborah’s trunk

 

I went to the Trinity Baptist Trunk & Treat event tonight to support my two gal pals Lyn Wood Rix and Deborah Williams (translation = eat their candy). They both decorated the trunks of their cars and gave out sweets, as other adult members of the church did.

 

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Lynn’s trunk

 

Parents and children from the church and surrounding community vote on the best looking trunk and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners are announced at the end. Trinity Babtist is a church, a private school academy, and a Christian college.

 

 

Trinity Trunk-Treat 3

Parents with children in costumes (some parents in costume too) lined up and walked from trunk-to-trunk receiving candy

Trinity Trunk-Treat 2

Parents and kids getting refreshments, on the right kids receiving candy, behind blow-up structures (slides, etc.)

Trintity Baptist Church

Trinity Baptist Academy

Trinity Baptist College

 

 


Kicking Back in Kissimmee ~ a writers’ getaway

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The resort train which Dalyn and I rode to get to the miniature golf course on the grounds

Florida Christian fiction writer Dalyn Woods and I took off to relax for a week in central Florida. It was my first vacation since my husband passed away, nearly one year ago. We had a terrific time, yet it felt strange being there without Joseph. Daylyn and I stayed at Westgate Town Center and Resort in Kissimmee. [Disclaimer: this is a time share resort and I know they are somewhat controversial, but my husband purchased and paid for a time share thinking he and I would use it.]

 

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Moi in front of the glof course

 

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Dalyn put-putting on the golf course

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Westgate Waterpark Then it was off to the on-site waterpark where we floated in the lazy-river, had lunch, then lazed in lounge chairs watching children playing in the water.

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Moi at the kiddie pool

The resort is affiliated with Disney. While we were there we watched at no charge (in their little theatre) two Star Wars movies and Alice Through the Looking Glass.

 

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Sophie the wonder-dog travels with moi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A word about FOOD…

 

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Drafts is a sports bar on the resort and the food is great. Here I had a turkey club on multi-grain bread. Dalyn had a Philly cheesesteak

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Dalyn’s Philly cheesesteak. The beer-batter fries were to die for.

We also went off campus to eat at Giordanos for Italian and the Wildside Barbeque and Steakhouse. I took photos at Giordanos but we were so hungry when we went to the Wildside we just dove in and I didn’t get any shots. The food was real good in both places. BTW, we got coupons from the resort for both.

 

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Cheesy garlic bread. Each slab has four slices. You dip them into the sauce (which is e frin scratch)

 

 

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I got the spaghettie with meat sauce. As you can see, they’re generous with the meat.

 

 

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Dalyn had Linguine with Alfredo sauce, which she said was yummy.

 

 

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