Various events and every day happenings of our quiet life in Port Orange, FL.
Includes community events, travel, home projects, food, gardening and a lot of our pup Rufus.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Burnt turkey and dinnerware

Last night we continued the little house projects to get ready for company coming over tomorrow. Painting doors, scrubbing down the tea kettle, moving candle holders from one side of the house to the other, you know, the things that probably won't really be noticed anyway :)

I keep thinking this will be the 3rd year we've had Thanksgiving at our house. I could have sworn I made a turkey in my kitchen before, but I guess not. The first year we were married, we lived in 'tiny house' at Thanksgiving time and I remember we had it catered from Heavenly Ham. Those were the days, prepared food lined out on the table and eating from a full plate while watching the ocean waves roll in. It was nice, but I think I prefer having everyone over for a nice sit down meal. Last year we did our first attempt at frying a turkey. This is what it looked like when it came out. And yes, that is a 15lb. bird.

I was so worried. We had brined the turkey over night and then rubbed the skin with a cajun rub. I had read that it may look burnt but this looked beyond burnt. Guess it was that cup of ground black pepper and all of the other cajun spices that made it look like that. We didn't have a backup. After the first cut into the turkey, all my fears were gone. It was the most delicious, most moist turkey I had ever tasted. The skin wasn't too spicy, even with all that pepper.
We didn't get real china or fancy dishes when we got married, and I was just as happy to serve dinner on these cute paper plates I found at Target. We also had plastic ware and plastic cups. Guess we're growing up. This year I wanted to have 'real' plates, cups and silverware. It's not going to be fancy, I'm probably going to use our daily Corelle plates which are nice and sturdy and light. I wish I had gotten the plain clear or white set, but I got these back in college and the black and white still looks classic enough. I tried Walmart to see if they had extra loose plates, but they've changed their black and white print style so it doesn't match ours. I ended up getting 3 extra clear plates so we'd have enough real plates for everyone, and I may go back and get 7 more just so they're all the same. These clear plates are pretty enough to use as serving plates during other events too. These are the black and whites we have now. Classic enough.

I really like these square plates too. The set is on sale for $50 at Walmart right now. Maybe they just sell the plates because I can't really fit anymore coffee mugs in my cabinets right now. The replacement round black and whites were about $2.75 each, so for a set of 4 or 6, that would be a good deal.

I stopped at Target to get another set of drinking glasses today too. We got an inexpensive set when we got married, and I still like them, but a few have broken over the years. Luckily, the style was classic enough that they still had the same set there over 3 years later. They're similar to these, except without the huge solid glass base. They stack nicely - maybe that's how a few broke though. Either way, $14 for a set of 16 is good for me.

I really don't have much cooking for tomorrow. My mom's bringing deviled eggs and parmesan puff pastry for appetizers, sweet potato casserole and also pumpkin cheesecake which I've been wanting to try since I found the recipe last year. My MIL's bringing yummy green beans and sweet potato patties that DH has grown up on. And my aunt's bringing a new acorn squash dish and her homemade pumpkin pie.

DH and I will brining the 3 turkeys tonight and do their prep tomorrow. I guess depending on the smoker temps, the turkey may have to be smoked for up to 7 hours, hopefully less. Smoked is usually around 20-30 mins per pound depending on the temps. Dinner's around 2pm. The 2 fried turkeys only take about 3-4 mins per pound, which adds up to about an hour per turkey. Then that leaves the mashed and stuffing to me and of course my apple pie. I'm also going to try to make herb rolls and pumpkin bread this year. I did get ready to bake rolls and croissants just in case. After that, heat up the gravy and slice the cranberries and we should be ready to eat!

Here's what our table looked like last year. (so glad that tile's gone now!!) Hopefully this year, it'll be a little more 'grown up'. We'll have 2 more chairs at the table this year - we're planning on service for 10 with plenty of leftovers!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey day's almost here

Before I forget, here's the finished product of my mom's birthday coffee nut torte. She loved it.

I started this blog to keep track of daily happenings and now that I've been skipping the weekend blogging, is it bad that I can't sit here and remember what we did all weekend? I can't really blame it on age since I'm still in my 20s. Maybe we can blame it on the aluminum in my deodorant. :) Let's see how much I can actually recall...

Friday my dad and I drove out to New Port Richy for a sales/service call for work. We left at 6:30am and after Friday 1-4 traffic, returned at 6:30pm. The total drive time should have been about 2.5 hours, so we left at 3pm but hit the mother load of traffic both in downtown Orlando to Maitland and then again around Sanford. I love my 10 minute (with traffic) commute even more. DH and I then went to a couple shops, got a new weed-wacker at Lowes and picked up Moes burritos and quesadillas for dinner. We then watched/fell asleep to Tropic Thunder. I was tired, but usually enjoy Ben Stiller and Jack Black. Not in this one. Sorry guys.

Saturday morning we went to the barber, Ace Hardware and our NEW PUBLIX! Love it! True, the small town feel of the old Publix is gone, but the new one is so big and bright. I just love Publix. And yes, we went to the new Publix just to walk around it. And then I took a nice long nap. I love afternoon naps. They just put that pep in your step for the rest of the day. Saturday's dinner was Hardee's burger and a fish sandwich from our local seafood place that was so dry it's not even worth talking about any longer. When I got home from picking up dinner, DH had a beautiful fire lit. I love being able to use our fireplace for a few nights throughout the year. We did watch Journey to the Center of the Earth Saturday night and it was pretty good. Typical fantasy show for pure entertainment. Brendan Fraser had his typical 'dumb blond' lines, but overall it was good. Hey, I stayed awake for it, so that says a lot.
I had toyed with the idea of doing most of our Thanksgiving grocery shopping at Walmart Saturday night but decided to go Sunday morning at 6:45 am instead. Yes AM. It worked out well. I was home by 8am and there weren't many crowds to fight through. DH and I ran some errands and did the rest of our shopping at the new Publix.

We also got some makings for smoked meatloaf which DH made later that day. It was pretty good (yeah, I tried it!). Ground beef and pork with a mozzarella cheese center topped with bacon. What could possibly be better right?

Here's the meatloaf going into the smoker on my Pampered Chef stoneware which worked out nicely. And to the right is the meatloaf sliced showing the oozing cheesy center and the nice smoke ring.

He also smoked a block of monterrey jack cheese. It cured in the fridge overnight and we tasted it last night. A little too smokey.

And the last project of Sunday was for me to paint over the bright green that has been on our guest bathroom walls for the past year. I painted it with Autumn Fog which was left over from our guest bedroom just to have something different up there. That whole bathroom is going to be gutted soon. This was just a bandaid temporary fix. I'm trying to pick a replacment shower curtain so there's something up for Thanksgiving. Here is a close up of the tiles, paint color and the mirror (the only thing I like in that bathroom aside from the new Cadet 3 toilet). And here's the curtain which will probably be in there until we can redo the whole thing.

Wow, I actually did pretty well at remembering the weekend. Yesterday was work as usualy, tacos for dinner and then some house projects to get ready for the company on Thanksgiving. The turkeys are thawing out in the fridge, they might need a little water thawing too so they're ready to go into the brine tomorrow. Now I've got to do some research on how long it should take to smoke a 12 lb. turkey...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

BBrrrr and Birrthday!

I don't know exactly how cold it got last night, but this was what we woke up to this morning

And no, that's not spray paint. It's a very light layer of frost on our front yard. Of course I had to run out side in my robe and socks to take a photo before it all melted away. I just love cold weather (well, at least little spurts of it). Rufus was watching me from the front door, probably wondering what in the world I was doing out there in the cold dressed like that.

My grandpa from Michigan flew in last night. His flight was scheduled to arrive at 5:22, but their flight out of Atlanta was delayed from leaving at 4pm until around 5:30, so he didn't get in to Daytona until just before 7pm. Thankfully our airport is so small, it's not much of a hassle to get your luggage and then it's right out to the curb for pickup.

Today's my mom's "28th" birthday ;) (I'm 26, so don't try to figure that one out!).
Last night DH and I baked her favorite cake - coffee nut torte. It really is a pretty simple recipe for a tasty graham cracker cake which is made with a little bit of flour, baking powder, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, walnuts, fresh brewed coffee and plenty of crushed graham crackers. That mix is baked in 2 separate 8 inch round pans and then it's layered with a creamy filling made with vanilla pudding, instant coffee granules and fresh whipped cream. Yum! I love coffee flavored anything. We used fresh brewed Kona Creme Brulee coffee from Hawaii, so this one should taste extra special. DH and I had to do our best to resist drinking some of the coffee since we were making the cake around 8pm and didn't want to stay up the rest of the night from the caffeine. I made this cake last year, but didn't chill the filling long enough so it seeped out the sides of the cake layers. It still tasted delish! Here's the pic of last years.

I'll post a pic of this year's later, as it's chilling in the freezer right now tightly wrapped in saran wrap to avoid any seep-age this year

So, Happy Birthday Mom!
Hope you enjoy the cake and good Italian food later today :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Weekend of food!

Friday DH and I worked on making a new basket for his smoker. After a few hours, we came up with a nice box with a lip made out of exanded wire mesh that could hold a lot more charcoal than the previous bowl which came with the smoker. We'll get in the smoked meats tomorrow.

Saturday he had to work in the morning, so Rufus and I took a walk around the PO City Center. Rufus being Rufus made sure to greet every passer by, either by sniffing them, or just turning his butt to them looking for a good butt scratch. He had a great time trying to chase the squirrels (while on his 6 ft. leash). I tried to show him the little heron birds, but he just looked confused. We took a few laps around the lake - the weather was perfect. And then it was back home to do some house work.

Around 2pm my parents and I went to the 32nd annual Greek Festival in Daytona. I've heard they feed up to 10,000 people during the 4-day festival. My favorite is the Greek salad. The dressing must be homemade, the feta cheese is very fresh and the pepporcinis are always so full of flavor and juice. This year I got a small salad and a side of spanakopita - spinach and feta cheese stuffed into phyllo dough. My mom always gets the combination plate which includes spanakopita, tiropita (egg/cheese in phyllo), dolamades (meat and rice wraped with grape leaves), Greek meatballs, moussaka (sort of like Greek lasagna), rice, bread and a side salad. Yeah I know, it's a lot! There may even be other items on that plate that I've forgotten. My dad also got a large Greek salad, he knew from past experience he would be sharing from my mom's plate. Then it was on to dessert. We had to get loukoumades which is a bowl of fried dough balls smothered in honey and sprinkled with cinammon. What a treat. I could only eat a few before wrapping up the rest to take home to DH. I don't think he's a big fan of them, so next year I've got to remember to share a bowl with my mom because she was right, they don't taste nearly as good later as they do fresh out of the fryer at the festival. Interesting note: Just read this from - "There is a Greek saying "Eisai megalos loukoumas!" ("you are a big loukoumas"), which is used when the speaker wants to offend somebody by calling him or her stupid."

And then there was the baklava. DH just LOVES a good, fresh baklava. Surprisingly, they're usually too sweet for me to have more than 1 bite. Baklava, I'm told, is actually pretty easy to make. It's made in layers, simiar to a lasagna. Typical ingredients: packaged phyllo dough, chopped nuts, sugar, cinammon, butter, vanilla extract, honey. And just layer those over a couple times. The other dessert in the photo is also in the baklava family, but it's made by rolling the basic ingredients in shredded wheat. That one was ok - but didn't pack the great crunch the traditional baklava is known for. So for now on, it's traditional phyllo dough baklava for us. And maybe I'll try to make it one day since aside from the greek fest, it's hard to get good, fresh baklava around here. Guess we could always send away for a delivery from Greek Town in Detroit. Mmm..Astoria Bakery. That deserves another post all by itself.
Other tasty Greek cookies we've tried in the past were: Kourabiedes (Powdered-sugar-dusted almond cookie), Finikia (Cinnamon and honey-dipped cookie topped with walnuts). Koulourakia (Butter cookie with light sugar glaze).

Friday, November 14, 2008


Friday already? I love it when this day just sneaks up.

I finally got to take some pics of our recent gardening progress. But first, let me show you what Rufus did when he saw me bringing the camera out to the back yard. He ran and I think he may have thought he was hiding behind the oak tree...Precious little pup! Hard to believe he's almost 2-1/2 already.

On to the plants...
Let's start with before and afters of parts of the back yard.

The 'before/first' pics were taken mid-June of this year.

The 'after/second' taken just yesterday, 11/13/08.

The before and afters of the pool area show how much we did last weekend. (well, DH actually planted all of the agapanthus (lily of the nile) while Rufus and I were visiting my MIL).

In the banana tree area, we started out with just 5 banana trees from my MIL and they've grown and sprouted another 3 or 4 more already. The elephant ear plant is also doing very well (also from my MIL). The first few weeks with that one were rough. It just wilted and I didn't know if it would last. Then with all of our summer rains and hurricane storms, it strengthened and now it looks great.

Hopefully we'll put another dent in it all this weekend and next week I can focus the blog on the specific plants we have and how to care for them all (I'll work on the research for that this weekend!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Short post

This one's going to be short. I haven't had a chance to take pics of our gardening progress, so no pics in this one.

I've got a meeting to go to shortly - it's our local Relay for Life Kickoff event. The relay iteself isn't until May 1, 2009, but we've got to start planning the event and raising money for cancer research.
This year's (well, next year) opening ceremony starts Friday May 1 at 5:30pm at the Port Orange City Center. The relay continues through the night (rain or shine) until 8:00am Satuday morning.

And that's it for today. Short and sweet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Weekend update

It's been an interesting few days. I guess it's more realistic to say I'm going to blog Monday through Thursday, but yesterday I was in bed for half of the day so there was no blogging going on then. I woke up feeling fine at 7am, but after DH left for work, I started to feel light-headed and dizzy and then my knees started giving out like I was walking in a moon bounce. It was very strange. I started feeling a little better and went in to work, but my mind just wasn't functioning, so I went home at noon and rested the remainder of the day. I'm feeling better today, just still a little cloudy with a slight headache. If I had to get sick, I'd much rather it be a common cold, or allergies or something that could easily be diagnosed rather than on and off dizziness and confusion, but oh well, such is life right?

We had a good weekend. DH did smoke his pork butt Friday and it was great (yes, I did try a little bite). I think by the time he lit the smoker to the time we shredded the pork took about 12 hours. Next time we'll definitely cook more meat since it doesn't really take much more time cooking 15 lbs rather than the 4.5 lbs we cooked this time. He also made another batch of his mustard based sauce that is delish! We also did go to Deland Friday and got a 55 gallon metal drum so DH could make a smoker. That's going to be a fun project...

Saturday we slept in and then went to Babies R Us to shop for DH's cousin's baby shower which was later that day. Neither of us had ever been to a Babies R Us so we didn't know what we were getting into. We located her registry and printed it out and spent about an hour to find a few things. We actually got items that we could find, not items that I would have actually been looking for. Apparently there are icons on the registry that match the high signs for each department, but this store is so small we should have been able to find the items easily. The employee offered to help but we decided to try to find the items ourselves. We did ask where one item was that I really liked and I'm glad we did because it was on the Toys R Us side of the store; a cute little seahorse that glows and plays music for the baby to go to sleep with (Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders™ Soothe & Glow Seahorse, photo from Similar to the glow worms of my time. Several packs of onsies and baby washcloths later, we were done. One thing I did like was that they had wrapping paper there (for free!) so I just rolled some up and wrapped the items when we got home.

Sunday was gardening day. We tried Home Depot for plants but we were really looking for blue flowered Agapanthus, or Lily of the Nile which we had seen at Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival in May. We headed out to Big Value Garden Center which we then found out was not open on Sundays. The trip all the way out there wasn't a waste because we also visited Harbor Freight which is always an adventure in itself. Then it was out to Butcher's Nursery at the Flea Market. They had our blue lily of the nile! We decided to get enough plants for the area near the pool pump, the sort side of the pool screen and also the side of the pool nearest to the shed. We ended up with (3) 3 gallon Agapanthus, (2) 1 gallon Agapanthus, (1) African Iris (white flower I think), (8) various crotons including broadleaf and corkscews varieties, (2) Society Garlic, (1) Lakeview Jasmine (blooms year around and smells like orange blossoms), and (1) Nightblooming Jasmine. And I think that's it. We also got (1) variegated Cordyline from the Depot to add to the mix. The last plants to complete the area will be either a variegated ginger or Helicona (false bird of paradise) or both. I'm really starting to love plants! We moved our (2) bird of paradise plants to the pool side nearest to the shed on either side of the palms and added the agapanthus to complete that area. I'll have to take photos of it all later. For now, here's a pic of the bananas and elephant ear when we first put them in this past summer. Tomorrow, when I show you a pic of how this area looks now, you'll be amazed how quickly these plants have grown.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Personal shopper

I stopped at Bealls last night on my way home to get DH some new shoes. I used to enjoy shopping at Bealls, but it seems like that place is always swarmed with older women visiting from up north that have all the time in the world. Maybe I'll try to go there around 8pm next time, that should be past their bed time :)
We are getting more shopping options around here which is nice - Kohls and Ross so far. Soon I won't even have to travel outside of PO for some good shopping.

I had already picked out the shoes I was going to get him (and they were on sale!). They didn't have his size, so I checked out their BOSS system. I ordered the shoes on that, got the sale price, and it was free shipping to our house. They should arrive within 3-5 business days. If they don't fit, we can return them at any Bealls store. Easiest shoe shopping I've ever done. (photo from

While I was at the counter ordering the shoes on their computer, a lady brought a cart full of clothes up the the register and started unloading them on to the counter. She started piling them up saying 'I don't want these', 'Check the price on these', 'These are on sale, make sure they ring up at the sale price'. I just couldn't believe her! I glanced at the cashiers expression and it seemed as though this was typical for her. It's one thing to give the cashier 1 or 2 items that you don't wish to purchase rather than just putting them back someplace where they don't belong, but a whole pile, come on. Yeah, I'll definitely go later next time.

I got home and fixed honey ham, potato and cheese pieorgies and fresh steamed green beans for dinner and then it was relax time.
Today's been a long day. I'm pretty glad the weekend's almost here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hump Day

Here we are Wed. Nov. 5, day after election day...

I'm not really one that likes to speak out about my political or religious views, but I will say I am glad the election is over. I did enjoy the SNL skits, but all of those ads were just getting to me! And I hate to say it, as much as everyone loves Obama right now, after a couple years in office, the honeymoon phase will wear off and people will need to find someone to gripe about, and there our president will be. Maybe that won't happen this time, I'm just thinking about most of the past presidents. I was getting pretty confused with some of the broadcasts last night. Each one was trying to predict each result before the other. On one network, there were so many different title bars with so much information, it was almost hard to read it all, even on our 50+ inch TV. It was nice to see the rest of the world so excited about our country again.

I got home around 5:30 and DH and I walked over to our voting precinct. We walked right in, voted and we were in and out in less than 15 minutes. We both had previously marked and brought our sample ballots, so that helped when we were filling out our real ballots. I don't know how or why some people go vote without studying what they're voting for before hand. I think the lady that was next to me was reading the proposed amendments or something on the ballot for the first time. Oh well, at least she was voting. Or is an uneducated voter really better than one who doesn't vote at all.
Here's our voting location, our local library (photo from

I do really enjoy the location of our neighborhood. Right from our back fence, we can take a short walk to the library, City Center, a nice lake, amphitheater, the police office, and the city rec fields. It's especially nice when there's an event at the city center because we don't have to worry about fighting for or finding parking. And we can catch the city's fireworks from our back yard. During the summer concert series, we can open our windows and listen to the bands playing in the nearby amphitheater. At first I thought this was annoying, but I've grown to like it. If I don't want to hear it, I can just go inside.

Today being hump day, is the day Winn Dixie releases their weekly sale ads. I will be so happy when our Publix re-opens in a few weeks, but Winn Dixie has been pretty good with their meat specials while Publix has been going through renovations.

DH is getting into smoking, so I got a boston pork butt for him to smoke this weekend. I'm not a pork eater, but I do like pulled chicken, so I may have to try some of this one. He's also going to make more of his own special recipe bbq sauce. We will have to go up to SC one day and get some mustard based sauce from Duke's bbq, but until then, I like his. I guess our weekend will look like this.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today's the day

Today's the day of the official start of my blogging. I guess the whole idea of blogging isn't anything new, I'm just late to jump on the bandwagon. Journal writing was never really my thing and as I'm getting older, I think it would be nice to have accounts of the events of my life to look back on one day.

I'm planning on using this blog as a place to jot down a few lines of the day's events, possibly my opinions on current events, DIY home projects in process or in thought, and of course updates on life with my wonderful husband and our pup Rufus. I'll probably use the reflection blogging format, the daily post will be notes of the previous day's happenings and current opinions. Maybe this blog will help motivate me to get into photography more, with the idea that I need pics of the day to post here. I'd like that, but we'll see how it actually turns out a few months down the road.

Here are a couple pics to start out the blog.
First is DH and I on our wedding day 08/20/05, and second is our standard poodle pup Rufus.

So ok, let's just start with Nov. 1 Saturday.

Another beautiful weekend in FL. We made our way to Home Depot to purchase more items for our fun moulding project. We did find a good deal on 'pro-packs' of base moulding for about $55 each which includes about 120 linear feet of nice decorative wood, primed and ready for semi-gloss paint. We went through the first 2 packs a few weekends back, finishing most of the house - started in the den, did the kitchen, entry, living room and a little of our bedroom. Gosh, it looked soo much better. This last pack should cover the rest of our bedroom, all the closets and the office and guest bedroom. I am so glad we threw out the base moulding from the previous owner. There would have been no amount of Kiltz paint that could have really sealed away that nasty nicotine stain and smell. (the state of the house when we bought it would have been a good no-smoking campaign if I ever saw one! So gross what it did to the house, can't imagine what it does to the body. If you're going to smoke, please think of the people that may live in your house one day and smoke outside!)

We also decided to redo the door casings. They had kits which included precut casings and the square blocks, but at $15 each for the interior doors, we decided to get pro-packs of the casings for $35 and purchase the decorative square corner blocks separately since we're redoing both sides of all of the doors in the house. We're also going to replace the interior doors with nice 6 panel style doors. The look we're going for is actually in this week's Home Depot ad. Just overlook the paneling on the walls and this is how our place should look soon :)
We painted those and the new pack of base moulding and will probably work on that this weekend. We did get a nice casing for the interior of the main entry door. My husband (DH) nailed that in and I puttied and painted it and it makes the entry look 100x nicer! Now I've just got to decide on a paint color for that wall, change out the entry light and get some different shelving for the brick wall and it will be all done!

Saturday was DH's dad's birthday, so we went out to Stonewood for a nice dinner. It was ok. The service has been better other times we've gone there, but maybe it lacked because this was a Saturday night. The food was good, and everyone enjoyed it so that worked out.

Sunday was the day we actually did the entry door casing, many many loads of laundry and relaxed a bit.

Monday I had another chiropractor appt. Back in June of this year, Rufus and I were at Petsupermarket to get his food. A bulldog, or some breed similar was being pushed in a shopping cart when he/she jumped out of the cart (wasn't wearing a leash, which is store policy) and came running at us. Rufus pulled quickly to protect me and I guess I threw my right foot forward to brace myself and totally twisted my lower back. The next day I was in really bad pain (not used to these types of pain yet at just 26!!). So went to the phone book and found a chiropractor who was close to my work. I went that day and OH MY! It helped that very day! I went back several times the following weeks and now I'm down to monthly visits. She's also been helping with my popping jaw which my dentist and orthodontist said couldn't be fixed without surgery, so that's a bonus! (The right side of my jaw started popping about 2 years ago just out of the blue, it was slightly painful but more annoying and now the chiropractor's helped minimize the popping and discomfort).

I stopped at KFC to get DH dinner since I had my mom's monthly church dinner to go to. Got home, went out to Ormond for the dinner, and got back home around 7:15. The first Monday of the month is Dog Night at Ritter's our local ice cream shop, so Rufus and I went over there for his ice cream and some socializing. There weren't many dogs there at all, so we only stayed about 30 minutes and came home. Then it was relax time finally! Or so I thought. Prison Break was back on last night at 9pm and I get so nervous watching that show. It's been that way since the beginning of that series, but I love watching it anyway.

So that gets us caught up for the month of November. I still can't believe it's November already!

Today's election day. We'll go vote at our library after work. And tomorrow our country will be aimed in a new direction and that's all I'm going to say about that.