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.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Going to San Diego!

Here we are, this time tomorrow DH and I will be in San Diego, or at least somewhere in Southern CA. Our flight leaves at 6:25am from Daytona and we'll be in San Diego at 10:50am their time. Total, it's about 6.5 hours of flying time. We're really looking forward to it, but will surely miss our pup Rufus. I've still got to pack and bring Rufus to my MIL's where he'll have a grand ole time while we're gone.
When we get in, we'll get our rental (SUV from Avis - got a great deal through Hotwire), and head up the 5 to Oceanside. We'll meet DH's sis on her way out to work and hopefully unpack and take a breather. Then we may go out with DH's sis's husband or some other friends. Hopefully just a relaxing easy night considering all that flying time, the hour we're waking up tomorrow and the 3 hour time change. Note, get some Red Bull on the way to Oceanside!

Saturday DH is going golfing during the day and I may go meet up with some friends who don't live too far away from where we'll be staying. Then Saturday night is THE UFC fight - BJ v GSP. I'm still up in the air over who I'm going for. After watching UFC Primetime, it's obvious how nice of a guy GSP is and how hard he works for this, but if BJ wins, he'll be holding 2 titles which has never been done before. Either way, it'll be nice to watch this on the west coast - it starts at 7am rather than 10pm which is what time we usually watch it. I guess with the time change, my body won't know the difference though.And then Sunday of course is the Superbowl. I don't care who wins this years, we'll just be having a great time at our friend's party. As for the rest of the week, that's when we'll be visiting the attractions. I probably won't post until we get back next weekend, but don't worry, I'll have plenty of pics and blog pages to fill!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Weekend Recap 2

After dropping Ruf off for his haircut Saturday, I stopped at the local nursery to check out trees for our front yard. They had both foxtail and queen palms, but also a Christmas palm which I think I like the best of the palms. A little older gentleman Arlon pointed them out to me. It's fairly reasonable in the price of palms and it is basically 3 or 4 palms in 1 as there are several different trunks. It still has nice palmy palms and is pretty easy on the upkeep. Arlon suggested if the temps were to get in the 30s, a couple spot lights in the yard facing up would be both aesthetically pleasing and also keep heat and warmth on the tree. We also looked at other options including robellini's and some type of Japanese plum and of course citrus trees.
Then it was home to meet what was hopefully our last window estimate appt. This guy was from Window World, which is a national company that lures most in with their $189 installed window. He was friendly and knowledgeable as usual. He did bring up a good option on our windows - slider style rather than the standard double or single hung up and down windows. Now, we don't have mountain view, but this is similar to what a slider on our front window would look like, except it'll have 4 full sliding glass sections due to the size of that window.

And this (except not detail on the glass) would be what our bedroom and office windows would look like.It definitely surpasses current egress requirements, and I like that it's just large pieces of glass (they'll still be impact resistant). And it's just different than the standard up and downs. There's a house right down the street from us that has this style, I'll probably go chat with them after we get back from CA.
Window World wasn't the least expensive, but wasn't the most either. I haven't heard of their brand of windows, so I'm still leaning towards PGT windows which several people carry and love. I didn't have the other people quote slider style windows, but I think it's not that much more for this style.

Other than that, we watched a couple movies this weekend and did some shopping We saw Righteous Kill with DeNiro and Pachino and Bangkok Dangerous with Nicholas Cage. Righteous Kill was ok, wouldn't have been good at all without Al and Robert. Interesting fact, in their first movie together The Godfather 2, they were both gangsters, the next Heat, one was gangster one cop and in this one, they're both cops. And Bangkok Dangerous was terrible. Wouldn't even had made it to the movie theaters or into our DVD player without Nicholas Cage. He's basically an assassin, but they throw a couple extra story lines in there that slow the move to a screeching hault and oh, just save your self and don't watch it.

Countdown until San Diego - we leave Friday! Off to dinner at Outback with the girls!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Weekend Recap 1 - Rufus' haircut

My little Rufus was due for a haircut soon so we decided to have it done before we went on vacation. We've been to Petco before, their price is reasonable but one time they kept him for 9 hours, so that's always in the back of my mind. There's a small place right down the street from our house called Pauline's that is about 30% more in price, but they usually only take 4 hours and it's local, but it usually takes at least 2 week notice to get an appt there. We've been there a few times but decided to try the other option in town which is in between on the price scale, Petsmart. They're on the other side of town, but we got an early appt. for last Saturday so I figured I could do some shopping and also get some stuff done around the house while Ruf was out. So this is what he looked like before.I brought him in at 8am and the lady Ruth was very nice. She went over what I thought was every detail on how I wanted his hair cut. They even had a little chart with fake fur so we could choose the correct length clippers. We ended up going with a #4 on his body and face, a little longer on the back of his hind legs because the hair is thinner back there, clean poodle feet, and the shaved base of the tail. Plus all the standards like brush out, bath, dry, ears, nails, teeth. I then kissed and hugged my little bear and left him in Ruth's hands. About 4 hours later, Ruth called and Rufus was almost ready. I drove up there to get my big boy! This above pic was taken Wednesday at work. You may notice something different. Everything was great except that SHE SHAVED HIS TOP KNOT! For anyone that knows poodles, you know you scissor their top knot (hair on top of their head) just to clean up and stray hairs. But no, she saved it. I know it'll grow back, but he looks like he's got a shrunken head now. :( She did great on the other parts though, so we may give her another shot in 4 months. Good note, in the planned Pavillion at Port Orange here in town, they've got a Petsmart on the drawings so that will be great coming this fall.

After Rufus' haircut, I knew he would need some good play time, so after a nap, we went to my MIL's to play with her pups. More photos from that playdate here
This is a good shot she got of Rufus in the sunlight, shaved top knot and all!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mail order steaks

Look what arrived on our doorstep last week - Mail order steaks from Omaha Steaks.
DH got the American Celebration with the Omaha Steaks gift card his sis got him from Christmas. I think we're set for a while.We had the stuffed sole with potatoes au gratin the first night, it was delish as previously mentioned.
This package came with:
(4) 5 Oz Top Sirloin Steaks
(4) 4 Oz Boneless Pork Chop
(2) 4.5 Oz Stfd Sole with shrimp and crab
(8) Gourmet Franks
(4) 5 Oz Filet Mignon
(10) Potatoes Au Gratin
(4) Omaha Steaks Burgers
Bonus - (6) Omaha Steaks Burgers and (1) Cutlery Set W/cutting Board
Over the past week, DH has had a couple burgers he said were good as well as one of the sirloins (a little tough) and a filet mignon (ok, nice and tender).
We got a free knife set and cutting board with purchase. Here's Rufus checking it all out as usual. The knives are bendable, sort of like gag knives. What a joke! And the cutting board. I think my printer paper is thicker than that thing. Good thing they were free! :)

DH had an experience one time years ago when he lived in CA with a door to door meat salesman. He and his roommates paid about $150 for a freezer full of meat they said was some of the best beef and pork they've had. We had a guy come around a couple months ago, but we had just eaten dinner and were too full to think about getting anything from him. I tried to find him before Christmas and couldn't. Guess they have to find you!

Anyone have experience with door to door or mail order meats?

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Japanese steakhouse!

Ok, if you know me, you know I don't eat red meat including steaks, but that has never kept me away from Japanese Steakhouses. We had a new one open up a couple weeks ago, it's less than 1 mile from my house so you know we had to try it out! There's another one in town, but it's not that good and then another about 15 miles away on beachside but that one's always been such a pain to drive out to, so this close one is very welcome in our town!
I'll have to get photos of the inside next time (yes, there will be a next time) because they put a lot of work into this place. It's in a fairly new strip with Quizno's, nail, hair and tanning salons and our local pet supply store. When it was first built, it was Bada Bing Pizza and Wings, a very overpriced pizza shop. That lasted about a year. Then it turned into Italia which was a pretty decent Italian place - the food was good, but it lacked in atmosphere. Plus there's stiff competition from another Italian place right down the street. Then I heard this place was going in. It said Hibachi on the window, so I was excited!

They've got 6 hibachi grills and can seat about 45 people on the hibachi side. They've also got another side, not sure what it's called, where you can order off the menu, and a full fresh sushi bar. The main focal point is a huge fiber optic display hanging from the ceiling that changes color gradually. Very pretty - looks like huge crystals.

They've got typical Japanese steakhouse menu items - chicken, shrimp, steak, scallops, and more plus many appetizers and tons of different sushi and sashimi rolls. I got chicken, my parents each got chicken and steak and DH got steak. Each meal is served with onion soup, salad, veggies, rice and shrimp appetizer.
The onion soup is very smoky flavored, pretty good though, even DH liked it. The salad's got standard ginger dressing but there's a little hint of sweetness in it - also very good. Then it was time for the show. The below pic isn't from our dinner, it's to show the show. Our fires were even bigger than this one!Our chef's name was Allen and he was sure an entertainer. It was only us at the table, as we had an early dinner, but he gave us the full show. I'll give you some of the highlights. He started out with the knife and utensil show - flipping and tossing and catching, all so fast it was making me nervous. Once, he acted like he missed it and at the end, he brought the spatula about a foot away from my dads face and scared us all. We were all cracking up.
Then he brought out a zucchini. He sliced it up and told us to open our mouths. He then tried to flip pieces into our mouths - funny! There were zucchini pieces all over the floor. I did catch 1 in my mouth though! I do have talent ;) Next was the egg. Throwing and balancing a whole egg until it cracked. Which we all cracked up at too. Then he cracked open another egg, separated the yolk and tossed the yolk several times without breaking it. This guy was great! Next, the flaming volcano - stack layers of onion, fill them with Saki and light it on fire, standard show. But then, he pulled out this little doll and squirted the fire. It took me a second to realize the squirting was coming out of the lower half of the doll - he was peeing on the fire to put it out! Where do you get that type of toy?! Silly guy!
More food slinging and many many more laughs and our show was over and it was time to eat our delicious food. All in all, a great experience. We'll definitely be back, just probably not soon because we still have leftovers here at home!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Frosty few days

It has been a cold few days here in sunny Florida. See, even our fish mailbox has some frost on him this morning.

We covered most of the plants last night since temps dipped into the 20s. This morning, it looks like some of the ixora shrubs will need some pruning. They had several branches freeze last year too and we just trimmed them back and they were in full bloom again by spring. Everyone else that was covered looks good. The elephant and bananas will need a good pruning too, maybe this weekend if it's gotten any warmer. It's seriously been COLD here! This was the view from the inside of my car this morning. It took about 10 minutes to heat up enough to brush the frost away.
I thought these came out interesting after edits - the first is the original where you can't see too much detail of the 'snow flakes', second is just a brightness edit and third is brightness and contrast levels.

Other than braving the chilly weather, not too much going on here. We're looking forward to our trip to Cali, we leave 1 week from tomorrow!

We had another window guy come over last night. That will be the 3rd window person who sells PGT windows. I've read their reviews and they look like affordable, good quality windows. We've got 1 more coming Saturday and hopefully that's it. We applied for the My Safe Florida Home grant - that would be a nice help for this window reno. With that, we may also get a new garage door and gable braces. It's all about protecting our home from wind come hurricane season. If I had to count, I'd say this guy coming out Saturday will be at least the 7th person we've had out doing estimates. Let's see if I can name them all: Home Depot, Sears, Allied Window Co., Image Built, The Window Shoppe, Budd Severino Homes and this Saturday Window World. I feel like I've forgotten 1 though. So far, Allied has the best installed price, but they're not a participating contractor of My Safe Fl Home, so next up is The Window Shoppe. I haven't seen the numbers from Image Built or Window World yet so we'll see.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Feels like Antartica!

Ok, so this isn't actually me, but this is how I'd like to be dressed right now. (the photo is actually Wisconsin native Heimo Korth who started a life in Alaska and now lives 1301 miles north of the Artic Circle - interesting story

Granted, Heimi probably regularly sees negative temperatures, and it 'felt like' 36 deg F here today at noon, I still wouldn't mind layers upon layers of warm clothes.

I had a chriopractor appt. yesterday and then went grocery shopping (still love our new Publix) and then I came home to a wonderful dinner DH made for us! He had it plated and sitting in the warming drawer and all - how romantic and so thoughtful. And it was good too! Sole (a light fish) with scallop and crabmeat suffing, potatoes au gratin and cheesy broccoli (this is a web pic of the stuffed sole).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Black Bean soup

I have had a nasty stomach bug this whole weekend and it's still here. yuk! I haven't had any of the peanut butter products the FDA has listed that are linked to this other thing going around, so hopefully this isn't that bad and will leave soon. DH had it too for a couple days. That's about all the detail I'm going to give you because as my Aunt in MI would say 'TMI'.
I had a craving for fresh black bean soup today when I left work. Because I didn't have the strength to drive out to the best Mexican place in town, I stopped at the grocery and picked up Goya canned black bean soup (don't tell my mom!). Goya actually makes some pretty good products. I love making homemade black bean soup, but didn't have the energy today. You would think spicy bean soup wouldn't be good for an upset stomach, but it's the opposite for me. Load me up with some spicy salsa and black bean soup and I'm on my way to recovery.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Landscape curbing

We're in desperate need of some landscape curbing for our front flower beds. We tried the black plastic edging and that just warped and didn't hold in the mulch. Then we tried something DH came up with: slats from wood fence panels cut to size angled on top stuck in the ground. We had extra fence panels to use (although they do sell strips of wood for this purpose - see photo). It was sort of like a picket fence for our flower bushes. We set them too close and didn't allow for expansion, so they're all laying all over the place now. The ones from the store are pre-spaced with wires to make install easier, allow for expansion and to help keep them in place.

We looked into stone borders from Home Depot similar to retention wall stone. They're about $1.50 per stone and for our 80 ft. line, we'd need 2 layers which would be about $300 plus all that time and lifting. Plus it would take away from the visual height of our flower beds since 2 levels of stone would be about 8 inches high. So then we started looking into concrete edging. Typically, this is done by a professional with a concrete forming machine that he just runs down the outline of the prepped border and wha-la, permanent edging to withstand the rain, sun, sleet and snow. There's all types of stamping and color options to decorate the concrete. There's even different forms to make the border a different shape.

This first one's supposed to look like cobblestone.
These two like real rocks with texture. I'm not a big fan of the one on the left - the random lines are not orgainzed enough for me. The one on the right is ok. It may be an option as this shade would match the brick front.

But the one I like the most is the plain concrete color in mower's edge style. The concrete is natural gray color, I say classic, some may say boring. See the little lip near the grass, this allows the lawn mower to ride right up to there assuring an even mow all the way up to the edging.

We had 1 guy come give us an estimate, and if you know me, you know I've got to check all my options and compare prices, so we've got a 2 more companies coming over to give us an estimate. Hopefully I'll have some nice 'after' pics soon so I can do a before and after post.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Planning the trip to California

In just over 2 weeks, Rufus will be at my MIL's having the time of his life and DH and I will be on our way to CA. We've started a list of places to see and things to do. I think we have to extend our trip to 2 months.

First we've got the standard touristy things: San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Disneyland, Universal Hollywood, Seaworld
Then the not so popular touristy attractions: Knotts Berry Farm, whale watching, maybe Carlsbad for Legoland and shopping

And we plan to do some activities in nature like golfing next to the Pacific, visiting the mountains like Big Bear, and maybe outdoor parks like BalboaAnd can't forget the shopping, brewery, winery, Dave and Busters, and the must eat places like Jack in the Box, JuanBurtos, In and Out Burger.

After all that and in between visits with old friends, we'll relax here in Oceanside at DH's sister's house and enjoy many sunsets over the Pacific ocean.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


In one of last weeks blogs I mentioned how I like large sinks. I've been checking out farmhouse style sinks, sometimes also called apron sinks. I was surprised to find they make stainless versions. I had always seen the standard glazed porcelain or whatever material they are. I don't know if the stainless apron will be too much stainless being right next to the dishwasher (I'd probably keep the appliances in the same places for the remodel).

Here's a couple examples of a stainless single tub (no divider between the sides, what is that for anyway, I keep moving the dishes from one side to the other!) next to a stainless look dishwasher. I could almost bathe Rufus in that thing! The only issue would be lifting his 100 lb. butt up that high :) The first photo has cabinets close to what we're looking to get.
One important feature we would have to check if we did go with stainless farmhouse would be that it was fingerprint resistant, like our other appliances.
Or we could go with the standard white, which may not look too bad since the sink is below the window and the new window frame will be white.
This photo shows the white farmhouse sink under the window like ours would be. Also has the semi-dark cabinets that I like (I actually like a little darker I think). I've got a lot of spices and am always thinking of new ways to efficiently store them. This shallow cabinet on the side is a neat idea, although I would definitely have some type of cover or doors over that because all of those different jars not matching would bug me right away. If all of the spices were in matching jars, that may look nice there. Anyway, focus on the sink in this photo. The counter top brownish shade may be nice too.

Or we could just go with a larger (36 or 30 inch) single bowl stainless sink. (bonus for stainless, rub your hands on it to help remove food smells like garlic and onion, and it would match our appliances).
I'm not too big of a fan of this first one. The rounded corners just make it look strange to me. But it is a big stainless single bowl sink. It's Lovello.

I love these next two. The 'zero radius' corners just make it look so deep (all 3 of these stainless bowls are about 10 inches deep). I like the dark counter top on the second one.
This shows that stainless sink along with the Adel Medium Brown cabinets from Ikea that I like. I'm not that into the green back splash, but do like the lighting. This is similar to the layout of one side of our kitchen.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Weekend recap

Thursday and Friday of last week were burn out days for me. I've been pretty busy at work, which is a good thing. I wasn't able to go with MIL to bring Blaze down to Miami area for his flight to CA, but everything went well and he's been enjoying his first few days with his new family in CA.

Thursday we had a Sears rep come out to give an estimate for new windows. The more we think about it, the more we think we can just buy the windows of our choosing and install them ourselves into our block openings. If we get in a bind, we could always hire a handyman to help out. That way we can get all vinyl impact windows (if you don't have impact windows in our area and you're getting new windows, you must have shutters, cut and labeled plywood or some other type of hurricane protection). I'll have to do another all about windows post later. We've got a couple more companies coming out this week to give us estimates. This is a double hung window. Most windows these days tilt in for easy cleaning.
Saturday was a rejuvenate day, a much needed relax day. DH neared completion of his re-routing our cable project. Let me just say it seems like hired cable people just run the quickest, easiest job. We found about 4 splitters and more than 50 extra feet of coaxial cable in the attic and around the house. DH ran the cable how it was supposed to be ran (or how we think was best), moved the splitters to inside the attic so they won't be affected by the weather and now we've got crystal clear cable reception.

Sunday my friend Missy came over and cut nearly 5 inches of my hair! It was scary. It's still about down to my shoulder blades in the back, so it's still long. Just will take some getting used to. Must not be too drastic of a change because not many people noticed yet. She also fixed my super dark roots, so I'm back to blond. She's the best! Can't beat catching up with a friend at your house while she does your hair.

In other news - Rufus got out of our backyard yesterday (we left the gate open). We were watching TV and started wondering where he was, since he's usually always hanging out with us. Then DH said the gate may have been left open, so I went to the front door to go outside to look for him and there he was, just smiling and staring in patiently waiting for us to let him in! What a good boy. He got lots of hugs and treats after that one!
We saw a couple movies over the last week or so. Pineapple Express and 7 Pounds. Pineapple Express was one of those movies where you have to be in the mood for it. I stayed awake for the whole thing. Some parts were pretty funny. As slap-stick as the movie was, Seth Rogan and James Franco were actually pretty good.
7 Pounds is with Will Smith, I'll try not to give away any of the movie, but if you don't want to know my opinion of this movie, STOP READING (I personally don't like it when people tell me if they liked or disliked a movie before I see it because as much as I try to not weigh their opinion to mine, I still try to figure out why they came up with their opinion of it - I'd rather see it first, then they can tell me their opinion).

Last chance, remember, don't read this next part if you don't want my opinion of the movie!
For about 3/4 of the movie, DH and I were trying to guess what the movie was about, what the point was, then at the end, it all summed it up. We guessed what it was about, but thought they should have at least hinted a little more about Will Smith's character's motivation. Definitely a heart wrenching tear jerker, so be prepared if you see it. The same director and producing team from Will Smith's earlier life-touching movie The Pursuit of Happiness (which I haven't seen yet!). I always like Will Smith, even back in the Fresh Prince of Bellair days. This movie's kind of slow in places, but Will Smith seems to keep it going. Stick with it, it's a story of sacrifice and redemption. Rosario Dawson is great, as is Woody Harrelson even in the short amount of time he's in the movie. Even after the movie, I couldn't figure out the meaning behind the title. suggests the meaning (don't visit this site if you don't want spoilers, the synopsis explains what the movie is about - that would have kept DH and I front being confused for the first 3/4 but I still don't like to know too much about movies I'm going to see). I just read the mystery behind the trailers and the majority of the movie is intentinoal: Director Gabriele Muccino explained the intent: "The [audience] will not know exactly what this man is up to." Good job on that one :)