Weekend Finds

This weekend was a nice laid back one for our family.

We started off Saturday morning by walking to the Riverside Arts Market. We drive part of the way there, then walk about a mile round trip to and from, plus we get in a good mile or two meandering the aisles of vendors that line the area.

Its a great way to get a nice family walk in, and see an amazing variety of handicrafts, plus live plants, produce and food vendors. With no admission fees, its a great, inexpensive way to have a morning out!

We started our adventure at a produce stand just inside the entrance. As much as I have touted the Jacksonville Farmer’s Market over these last few years, I am starting to become disenchanted with it. A farmer’s market implies that the priduce is local, from local farms, which the huge one downtown strikes me more of a produce flea market – great for bulk items, but if you really want to support local farming, this is the place to go:

I was able to grab some baskets of goodies….

Two eggplants, three star fruit, onions, yellow tomatoes and sweet potatoes for $10.00

We wandered along and stopped at JC’s Daily Bread and got a chocolate croissant for breakfast. We have noticed before that they are one of the most popular vendors – they bring tons of fresh baked breads, pastries, cookies, and sell out week to week, all the way from Port St. Lucie  Now, we know why they are a hit – that croissant was to die for!

We eventually made our way home briefly and spent the rest of the day visiting my Mom and Dad, where both my Mom and I smoked turkey legs for dinner.

I gave her my brine recipe and we each occupied a shelf in their smoker. They came out great! Everyone, even the kids, enjoyed them. We took our extra three home with us and had them for dinner on Sunday night, after watching football. I will be sharing this recipe, among others in a new section: Fair Foods Done At Home! After all, its getting close to fair season for some of us!

Speaking of Sunday, we did go to the downtown Farmer’s Market, because I needed some more tomatoes and some zucchini for some lasagna that was requested by Randall this week.

My main focus was for something I thought should be in season now, and I was right….


I got that beautiful basket full of about 18.5 pounds of a mix of Rome and Gala apples for $10.00. We spent a total of $20.00 on everything you see. Not too bad, I would say! Look at the size of those lemons!

So, I have some apple ideas up my sleeve that I can’t wait to share with everyone!

Have a wonderful week with your loved ones!

My Coffee Cup

Do you have a favorite coffee cup?

Mine has a tendancy to change with the seasons, and this morning, I poured my Blueberry Cobbler Coffee into this one….

Can you tell what season I am ready for???

Even though for all intents and purposes, it is still very much summer in my part of the country, I remember when I was younger and living in the Northeast, that this time, back to school time,  is filled with bright, crisp mornings and cool evenings. Its something after this unbelievably, excruciatingly, record breaking hot summer that we have had that I especially miss.

I sipped along on my coffee, with a bit of sweat beading on my forehead, because I had just heated up my kitchen with a pot of brine that I am making for some smoked turkey legs that I plan on making tomorrow, thanks to being able to haul them across town and toss them into my parent’s smoker. Smoked turkey legs remind me of fair food, and the fair for us comes in November, which is the very beginnings of our blink of autumn.

Most people will tell you that Florida has two seasons – winter for about one month, and summer for the other eleven. We do have autumn and spring here. We even have colorful leaves….

The only catch? They usually happen around Christmas. These pictures were taken last year, the last week of December.

So, as I sit this morning and sip my coffee out of my colorful leaf mug, I dream of the days of autumn, and think about all of the fabulous foods I’ll be making.

Last year I had a run with pumpkin – pumpkin butter, pumpkin lasagna, pumpkin bread, pumpkin and sausage pasta, pumpkin custard….the list went on forever. This year I think my MO will change to its lovely cousin the sweet potato. I already made some sweet potato cupcakes about a week or so ago, and plan on sweet potato gnocci for next week, and I am so excited! I will share some of these great recipes soon, I promise!

I think fall is so wonderful to me because of the impending holidays…Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Time to be with family and to focus on your blessings from the year that is almost past, and look forward to the new year around the corner. Just magical.

Maybe its time to seek out some pumpkin spice coffee. If its not too early for Starbucks, its not too early for me, either!

Spring Cleaning!

Sorry I have been away, but I began my spring cleaning on Monday, and got the living room and the bathroom done since then, leaving behind organization and copious bags of trash for hubby to take the the curb this evening.

Organization has always made me happy. To me, its a key to harmony in a household. When everyone is comfortable and taken care of, they know where their belongings are and are able to care for them better. I will never be able to keep a home as clean as my Mother always has, but I came to a conclusion a little over a year ago that is was not going to be my reality.

My dishes may stay in the sink for two days instead of one, or my kitchen floor may be neglected indefinitely, but as long as there is some order, and love in my house, I am beyond successful.

I also realized, that as much as I love and admire my Mother, she stays far too stressed and unhappy about her home and its appearance. To her, its in shambles, to everyone else, they could eat off of the floor. It was hard to see this flaw in her as I became an adult, but its there, and while perfection is nice to strive for, making yourself miserable as it stays just out of your grasp is not worth it.

So, today is the dining room, which will be a two day project. I will be back soon to highlight our family outing from last weekend – tons of fun and very little spent!

Frugal Fridays

I went shopping yesterday and decided that that was the day I was going to start using coupons again, and I was going to make a game of it – I am going to keep track for the rest of the year just how much money coupons save me, along with shopping sales.

So, here is the totality of my shopping experience, with the except of a 6 inch turkey and Swiss sub that was already gone by the time we got home with the goods:

So, that would be:

  • 2 boxes of Ritz Whole Wheat crackers – buy one get one free
  • 2 boxes Nutri Grain Bars – BOGO
  • 4 cans Hunts fire-roasted diced tomatoes – BOGO
  • 2 Pillsbury cake mixes – BOGO
  • 1 2 lb bag of brown rice – store brand
  • 1 can spagthettios
  • 1 16 oz coffee creamer – coupon to get free
  • 1 2.5 pound bunch of bananas
  • 1 box instant garlic cheddar mashed potatoes – on sale for .99
  • 1 16 oz box of corn starch – cheapest brand, .40 less than Argo
  • 1 8 oz Weight Watchers Cream Cheese – coupon to get free
  • 1 8 oz bag of shredded 2% milk cheddar cheese – store brand
  • 1 roll of Pillsbury reduced fat crescent rolls – on sale 3 for $5.00
  • 1 6 inch turkey and swiss sub – on sale for $2.99

for= $ 26.22

saved: $14.26 on sale items / BOGOs                  coupon savings: $ 4. 74

total savings=  $ 19.00

My next coup was found on ebay!

I am making Daniel’s birthday cake in a few weeks and needed a Thomas to put on the cake. We decided a long time ago that it would need to be an actual toy that he could then have. Thomas will be coming out of a tunnel, and I thought it would be neat to have another car going into the tunnel on the other end.

I found and won an auction on enbay for this:

That is:

a carrying case – that he is going to need for his ever expanding collection

  • Bill
  • Ben
  • James and his tender
  • Thomas
  • Annie
  • Clarabel

for $6.50!!!

I paid $11.95 for priority shipping, but that still meant getting all of this for $17.95.

The case alone is $19.95 at K Mart, and each of the cars are a minimum of $12.00 or more anywhere you go. So, I am figuring I got $80.00 to $90.00 worth of Thomas trains, etc for less than $20.00!

So now, we’ll not only have Thomas, but his cars, Annie and Clarabel, for the other side of the tunnel!

Now, I only have to worry about the cake – I have never decorated a cake before, so I am beyond nervous!

Not much planned for the weekend – Randall has a cold so we’ll probably have a weekend of R & R.  We shall see what transpires for us – hope everyone has a good weekend!

Thursday’s Thoughts

This morning I took Randall to work so I could have the car, because I had a doctor’s appointment this morning.

I will get into that in just a minute..

The road leading out to the interstate was blocked by construction, so it being early and I wasn’t thinking clearly on top of that obstacle, it lead to two u-turns, and what normally takes me one to two minutes to get from his door to the interstate took me ten full minutes, so that was a fun way to become further conscious this morning.

But, of course, I instantly went from being perturbed to being thankful when I ran into this reminder….

Do you see this traffic? Its actually not even that bad yet, and I drove this route five days a week to work and back for over two years before I was graced with the opportunity to switch to the greatest career I could ever have – that of a stay at home Mom. The hours are longer, there are more tears and no sick days, but being paid in hugs, kisses, “I love you”s and laughter outweigh any corporate bonus I ever got.

After dropping Daniel off to visit with Ni-Ni and Pap-Pap, I went on to the doctor. Monday, I had two attacks – for lack for a better word – that prompted this visit.

The first one was 4-sh – all of the sudden, right in the center of my stomach, like right at the breast bone – I got the most incredible pain….wasn’t a cramp, wasn’t exactly stabbing, cause it sort of radiated, sort of downward.I sat on the couch and leaned back some, and after a few minutes, it quieted down. This all lasted about 10 minutes or so.

THEN came the fun one. About 9:20, the pain came back, with a vengeance, it hurt bad enough where I had to concentrate on breathing. I tried to lay down, nothing. I started getting nauseated, and I got up and made myself sick, and the pain dropped in intensity, but was still there, about like it had been earlier. I laid back down and after about 45 or so minutes, it eased off enough to where I went to sleep. The next morning, it was like a hangover effect… mildly nauseated and where it hurt in my abdomen, its really sore, like I did 1000 crunches or something.

The doctor went with gastritis for now, saying I could even have an ulcer. He put me on Nexium and told me that if I am not feeling better in a week, two weeks tops, that further tests will be needed, because he would not rule out a possible gall bladder problem, should this course of treatment not work. If it is working, I will have to take the medication daily for 3-4 months so that my stomach can heal. Then, I got the fun list:


  • spicy foods
  • fried foods
  • tomato based dishes (spaghetti sauce, pizza, etc), no tomatoes at all
  • caffeine
  • chocolate
  • coffee


  • eat more starches
  • use Tylenol and nothing else

First off, I can’t help but wonder if my body is rebelling against me. I have abused it all of these years, finally started treating it half way decent for the last year, then decided to throw it to the wind at the holidays and have yet to get back to where I was. We still have been eating out too much and I have undoubtedly increased my coffee consumption dramatically.  So, it makes me wonder if it was just like – “Hey, you started doing so good, don’t even think about going back from where you came from” – you know?

Boy, what God won’t do to get you back on track! Anyway, I can do most of these things with little effort. The coffee is going to be a tough one and will come slowly. We’ll at least drop from 3 + cups down to 1-2 a day for a start and take it from there.

There is so much more I wanted to talk about but I think I will stop here and spend a little time with Randall before he heads to bed between jobs. I’ll have a nice potpourri post tomorrow!

Let’s Pick Up Where We Left Off…

Now that the weather is more like its supposed to be  – I mean, we are in Florida the last time I checked! – things are starting to balance out again.

Since I have abandoned my weight loss blog for the time being, I have had several requests to maintain a daily blog about life in general, and I remembered this lil abandoned project of mine, and thought, why not?

So, welcome to our life again!

I am amazed that so many people find our boring lil existence interesting enough to read about, but I am happy to oblidge.

Let’s see…

This past weekend, the cold that had its grips on us finally dissipated, leaving a wet and rainy Saturday in its wake. Sunday cleared out and it actually hit 70, which I felt like welcoming with tears. Instead, we felt like a trip to St. Augustine was in order!

Daniel admiring a fountain near The Visitor's Center

Me, next to the zero mile marker for the Spanish Trail to San Diego

We saw this in one of the walk through malls on St. George St. - I didn't even know they made "video" games that long ago!

The wind was rediculous - blowing steady at at least 30mph

Such pretty weather, in spite of the wind!

Some of the beautiful archeticture of St. Augustine

Daniel and Daddy, enjoying an after-luch tootsie pop

All smiles

We walked for about 2 1/2 hours and it felt great to get out. I still am amazed at families who complain about the lack of money to do things.

The cost of this trip for us was:

  • $3.00 for gas- it took (round trip) 1/10 of a tank, and my car will fill up for $30.00
  • $1.60 for a cookie for Daniel
  • $4.90 for two coffees
  • $21.00 for lunch

for a grand total of $30.50

— or $10.17 per person…which without the lunch was less than $10.00 in total!

Monday meant getting back to the day to day, so that meant being buried under plies of laundry and getting the itch to be in the kitchen!

I made some Minestrone Soup and some Thyme Twists and that was dinner. I always make an absolutely huge pot of the soup, because its my favorite and I could eat it forever, and this way, it feels like I am!

The twists were amazing and making want to try making some other crackers similar to these today. I had a pumpkin left from Halloween – yes, seriously, that I just cut up this morning and roasted the meat, and I am thinking that the seeds would be awesome in some crackers, so I believe I hear them calling me from the kitchen right now! Look for these in the near future!

So, while I am getting the other sections in this blog back up to current, please bear with me. In the meantime, you’ll at least have my ramblings to keep you amused!

With November Came Fall

Finally, we here in North Florida are experiencing some cooler, more seasonable temperatures, and its heavenly.

Its nice to be able to open the doors and let fresh air be ushered in, instead of the AC!

Of course, yesterday morning, we woke to a chilly house, so I thought, what better way to warm it up than to heat up the kitchen?

It was a very busy day…..

First, I peeled, cored and diced our pumpkin, cooking it and pureeing it for future baking projects. This is why we don’t carve in this house, we paint!

I got 10 cups of pureed pumpkin in the freezer and a small container of roasted pumpkin seeds, which I just love.

As I gutted the pumpkin, I remembered how when I was little, I would want to help my Mom gut our pumpkin to carve, and she always roasted the seeds for me. But, I just couldn’t touch that awful, slimy mess that she just reached in and pulled out with her bare hands! I smiled as I did the same thing yesterday morning. Its funny how your perspective of gross changes when you have a child to clean up after!

After how busy we were last weekend, I realized that I needed to get some things in the freezer that we could just pop in the oven for a meal when I was tired from a long day. We used to rely on fast food during these times, but now that we are trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle, its just not a good solution.

I got a pack of chicken cutlets on clearance on Saturday, and a bunch of broccoli from the Farmer’s Market, so I decided to make some homemade chicken and broccoli hot pockets.

I mixed up some whole wheat pizza dough, and let it rise. I was able to make 8 pockets out of it, freezing 6 and baking two, I had one for lunch and put the other in hubby’s lunch today. They turned out so good, I plan to make some more next week.

I also made a batch of Cranberry Pecan Bars, and a loaf of Harvest Stuffing Bread. The Bread was a make-ahead. I want to make my own stuffing for Thanksgiving this year, all the way to the bread cubes. I baked the loaf, cubed it, toasted the cubes and then placed them in my dehydrator for a few hours, just to make sure they were good and dried out. I placed the cubes in an airtight container, awaiting the big day.


I will need to make one more double loaf to make sure I have enough, but it had to wait, because I used my last bit of white flour on it.

– The recipes will be up soon in the recipes section for all of the things I have mentioned!

I feel like I got back on track with the house, as its been neglected lately. I got all of that done, along with dishes, mopping the floors and vacuuming. Keeping on top of things makes me feel like my roles as wife, homemaker and mother are being fulfilled the way that they are meant to be. That is a good feeling. Here’s to more fall days!

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