Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Celebrating Birthdays!

For those of you who don't know, this past Saturday was Sheila's (The Quintessential Magpie) birthday and on Sunday it was mine. How cool is it that two blogging friends got to share their birthdays together?

The past few days have been a whirlwind of excitement! On Friday I drove to Saint Augustine, Florida to attend a birthday luncheon in Sheila's honor. Her friend Nancy hosted this lovely affair and let me tell you, her home is beautiful and the food was fabulous! You know I felt right at home when upon arrival I excused myself to use the restroom after my long drive and found this lovely miss sitting in the shower.

I had such a good time meeting Sheila's friends and being the sweetheart that she is, I even got to help blow out the candles on the cake.

Then I was off to Neptune Beach for margarita's and dinner with my cousin and her boyfriend.

Now you would think this would be enough celebrating for this old beach gal's birthday, but then Sheila and her hubby (who is a real treasure and the sweetest guy) invited me to brunch on Sunday.

We went to the Beech Street Grill in my favorite town here — Fernandina Beach! Situated in a house that was originally built more than 150 years ago, the Beech Street Grill has been added to and renovated over the years and is now a gorgeous fine dining establishment.

Beech Street Grill, 801 Beech St., Fernandina Beach, FL — (904) 277-3662

The ambience for brunch was simple elegance in friendly, pleasant surroundings. The piano player provided background music that was unobtrusive and added to the enjoyment of an afternoon spent conversing and dining with dear friends. 

There is no hustle and bustle here and the food? Well, my dears, the food was scrumptious and our waiter Scott was a real doll!

(Sorry for the blurry photo Scott, but when an old woman gets around a cute, young thang, she just can't hold her hands steady!)

Spicy Shrimp and Grits for me

Eggs Benedict served on Focaccia for the Magpies

After brunch we headed over to Kelley's Courtyard Cafe for our favorite dessert, Granny Mutt's Blueberry Squares, only to discover that they are closed on Sundays. Disappointing to put it mildly, so we opted to browse our favorite place to shop in town — Eight Flags Antique Mall. We had been there together before and I wrote about it here.

We ran into the gal who runs my favorite booth and a friend of hers who recently opened a booth of her own. I'm going to save that experience for a post of its own, but here is a sneak peek of what you'll find…

Oh yeah, I fell in love with this chandelier!

After drooling over the goodies at the antique mall, we headed to the local cupcake bakery. This is the one I chose, for obvious reasons…

While the cupcake was cute as could be, the taste was not. Overly sickening sweet icing with a flavorless cake, this bakery was a BIG disappointment. I'm going to stop now, because my momma taught me if I didn't have anything nice to say, I shouldn't say anything at all and I've already said too much. Just take my word for it, I will not be going there again.

After dessert it was time to part ways, Sheila and Fred had to get home and I had one more stop to make, can you guess where?

I headed down the street to see this…

A birthday just isn't complete until I've put my feet in the sand!

The weather was brutally hot, but a nice cool breeze was coming off the Atlantic and my stroll on the shore was just what I needed to complete a wonderful afternoon.

Okay everyone, you've all wanted to see a photo of the elusive Mrs. Magpie and I'm breaking my friendship vow to share one of the two of us. 

Are you ready?

Sheila is going to kill me…

Do you think she'll ever forgive me?

Maybe I shouldn't do this!

Oh what the heck…

Here goes…

Me and Sheila down by the seashore

Had you fooled didn't I? Sheila, were you ready to hunt me down? Well, this is how we felt on our birthdays — like little girls hanging out with a good friend, having a great time, feeling carefree and all giggly. AND you know how much Sheila loves pink, so when I saw these two little girls running to the waves with a BIG PINK balloon, I naturally thought of my dear, sweet friend and had to share this moment with her.

So what does Sheila really look like? I know your all wondering, but…

only The Shadow knows!

Finally it was time to head home and I love the drive from Fernandina, the roads are all tree-lined and traffic is almost non-existent. Roads like this make me take in my surroundings and revel in the beauty of this area.

Well, dear friends, here's my exit…

so until next time, I bid you farewell and hope your weekend was as lovely as mine. I head out to Tampa Bay in just a few days to celebrate my birthday with my daughter and granddaughter. More beachiness and hopefully a chance to spend a little time with another blogging friend!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tent City Coronado Revisited

This has been an interesting week in many ways, but an email I received was by far much more so than the deadline I was facing and the hot weather outside.

Last July, not too long after I had started my blog, I did a post on Tent City at the Hotel del Coronado in California. I wrote a bit on the history of the place that was "the" vacation spot in the early 1900s for those who could not afford to stay at The Del, but still yearned for time at the shore.

The post included vintage postcards and advertisements of a place that I found fascinating. Well, to make a long story short, the email I received was from the blogger at Forgotten Old Photos. This blog is dedicated to posting old photos in the hopes that they can be reunited with families. Last Sunday she posted a photo and thanks to one of her readers the photo was identified as being taken at Tent City. He made this discovery after finding one of the postcards on my post. Great job Intense Guy! (Btw, I love your blog header, so funny.)

The postcard from my blog

The photo from Forgotten Old Photos

Another photo postcard I found

Very cool, don't you think? Thanks to this generous blogger, I now have another photo to add to my collection and my yearning to return to the past and spend the summer at Tent City is in full bloom. The weather has been brutal here on the Atlantic Coast and I long for the cool breezes of the Pacific.

I also wanted to share a recent find of mine, this next postcard is from Tent City on Catalina Island in 1908. Gosh, I love these tents!

I could while away the day in one of these rockers and the lanterns are wonderful!

Now I really must run, I have so much to do today. Tomorrow is a BIG day and a time for celebration with Mrs. Magpie. Sheila's birthday is Saturday and mine is on Sunday! Tomorrow I am headed for Saint Augustine Beach for a luncheon with one of my favorite bloggers and her friends. I'm hoping to get in a little beach time after lunch and see a bit of this coastal town.

@ Sheila — I am SO excited!

Friday, July 16, 2010

When Cocktails Become Dessert

As many of you know, in the last couple of month's CSN Stores has sponsored two giveaways here at The Hut, so I was thrilled when they contacted me again and ask me to do a review of one of their products. I saw so many wonderful goodies while I was searching for giveaway items and have been to many of their online stores. They have over 200 and choosing my favorite is an impossible task. Recently I was looking at their dining room tables and spotted these two bistro sets:

I love them both, but of course, the Bamboo Set fits my lifestyle perfectly. While thinking about how perfect it would be on my back porch, I envisioned having you over and serving Key Lime Pie Martinis as we chatted about our blogs. You haven't heard of these? Oh my dears, they are like dessert in a glass!

Key Lime Pie Martinis


  • Graham cracker crumbs, for rimming the glasses
  • 2 lime wedges
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) vanilla flavored vodka
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) key lime liqueur (recommended: KeKe Beach Key Lime Liqueur)
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Ice cubes


  1. Pour the graham cracker crumbs in a shallow dish. Rub a lime wedge around the edge of a martini glass and roll the edge in the graham cracker crumbs. Chill the glass for 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
  2. Combine the vanilla vodka, key lime liqueur, pineapple juice, and cream in a shaker. Fill the shaker half full with ice and shake until well blended. 
  3. Pour into prepared martini glasses, garnish with a lime wedge and serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse

Now don't these sound yummy? And look at these stemless martini glasses you can find at CSN Stores:

These glasses are so cool and will keep our dessert martinis nice and chilled on a hot summer night.

Try these out on your guests and stay tuned for my upcoming review from CSN Stores!

I'm joining everyone for Foodie Friday @ Designs by Gollum, so be sure to drop in
to find more scrumptious recipes and the cutest little birdie biscuits!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thank You Jimmy Buffett!

From the free concert Jimmy Buffett did in Gulf Shores, Alabama last Sunday night:

When The Coast Is Clear
(rewritten for the occasion)

I'd like to thank D.J. @ Barrier Island Girl for posting the link to this on her blog. She is a real beach lover who regularly does sea turtle patrols on the Gulf Coast. She's now working as a Wildlife Observer during the oil spill clean-up and if you want to see what's going on in Pensacola, firsthand, stop by her blog. She is sharing amazing photos and stories of these troubling times.

I also want to thank Linda @ Coastal Charm for first making me aware of this concert and blogging about it. Linda lives right there on the Alabama Coast.

My heart goes out to The Gulf and everyone and everything affected by this disaster and whether you realize yet or not, that includes you!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ah Shucks…

One of the nice things that happens about this time of year is that the corn is sweet and the prices are even sweeter. Last week I found myself at the grocery store standing in front of a pile of Georgia-grown corn and it was on sale at 12 ears for 1.29. At that price I knew I would have to stock up, but I had to make sure it was good and sweet, just the way I like it.

I pulled back on the husks and there in front of me were some nice neat rows of white corn and the kernels looked nice and plump, a sure sign they are full of all that juicy goodness I so love. The silks coming out of the top were plentiful, another good sign — lots of silks means lots of kernels. The silks were on the sticky side, which means the corn is nice and fresh. The last test I do when the produce guy isn't looking, of course, is to pop one of the kernels with my fingernail. Sure enough, the juice squirted out, all milky looking and a quick taste on my tongue told me all all I needed to know — it was good and SWEET!

Now in my new place I am short on storage space and I knew my freezer was just about full already, so I carefully chose just 12 ears and made my way to the check out. I could already taste that fresh fried corn in my mouth and wanted to get home quick before I made a fool of myself by drooling in the market.

Fried corn, cream corn — whatever you choose to call it, I love me some corn! Just don't think I'm talking about creamed corn. Now I know that is standard fare at the holidays and my sis can make one heck of a corn casserole, but I love just corn. Now I do love corn on the cob and I do love corn off the cob, but my very favorite since I was a child is fried corn. Here's how I make mine, you or your granny may make it a bit different, but this is my method.

Shuck the corn. This is best done sitting outside under the shade of a tree with a glass of sweet tea or lemonade near by. I don't know why, but it just tastes better if you shuck corn, shell peas or snap beans in the great outdoors.

Remove the silks. Remove what you can by hand and then get the rest by rubbing the corn with a clean dish towel or a soft brush. Don't worry if you don't get every single one, this isn't rocket science.

Cut off the kernels. Now don't go all the way down to the cob, you just want to get the good, tender part of the kernel, so using a sawing motion cut about three-quarters of the way down.

Milk the corn. What? Have you done lost your mind Shellbelle? That's what you do to cows, not corn! Well, heck yea, but you want to get all that juiciness and remaining pulp to add to the skillet, we are making cream corn after all and we want the cream of the corn, not the cream of a cow. Why some folks want to open up a bottle of milk and add it to their corn is beyond my scope of comprehension. I want to taste the corn and cow's milk just dilutes that.

Now right about now your probably asking yourself how are you supposed to milk an ear of corn? Well honey, they don't have udders, so I guess we'll have to find another way.

I use a sharp knife to cut off the kernels and a table knife to milk scrape out the good stuff. Here they are:

Hold the sharp blade against the corn and cut of the kernels with a sawing motion. (I know I just repeated myself, but that's what happens when you get old.) Then hold the table knife at an angle and scrape the cobs. I warn you this can be a bit messy, so wearing an apron and protective eye goggles is essential. Okay, I'm kidding about the goggles, but if you get juice in your eyes be happy — that is some darn fresh, sweet corn for sure! But I do highly recommend the apron and the cutest one you have. Why? No reason really, I just like cute aprons. (Any men reading this have my permission to skip this part.) I remove all the kernels from all the corn first and then go back and do the milkin'.

Okay, when your done it should look something like this:

See all that yummy sweet corn "milk"

Now add a few tablespoons of butter to your skillet and when I say a few, I mean four or five for this much corn. On a diet? Well, then just use a little Pam so they won't stick, but your missing out on the FULL flavor. I love butter in cakes and on corn. That's just how I roll.

Fry the corn. Add the kernels (not the pulp or juice) to the hot butter and quick fry that up until your kitchen smells like corn heaven. This will only take a couple of minutes, but it will bring out the full flavor of this luscious corn.

Add the corn pulp and juice to your skillet and mix it all up. You can just heat this up and eat right like that or you can continue on for a creamier corn, the way I like it. Now chances are you'll need some more liquid, there's only so much juice  milk in an ear of corn, so at this point add enough water to barely cover the corn. I used about a cup of water to which I whisked in about 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Don't add too much cornstarch, just enough to help it thicken a bit.

Simmer. Now just let that simmer down for a few minutes and then taste it. How's it taste? If you like it then it's done, if you like your corn more tender, continue simmering and tasting until it's to your liking. I like mine with a bit of crunch to it. Just be sure you watch and stir while you're simmerin' or you can bet your bottom dollar it will stick to the bottom of your skillet and burn like the dickens. Then you'll have to start all over again with more corn and that just ruins my day. I still have two cornbreads I need to get in the oven. So, if it looks like it's dryin' out and you need to add more water, well then, what are you waiting for? Add a bit more water to the skillet.

Season. Now that your corn is done it is time for the seasoning. NEVER add salt while your cooking corn (and the same holds true when your boiling it); it'll toughen the kernels worsen than the hide on an a gator. Now Im not much of a salter, so you add yours to taste. I love black pepper in my fried corn and lots of it. Now some fancy, smancy chef might tell you to use fresh cracked pepper at this point, but honey, this is good old-fashioned comfort food and my momma didn't know cracked pepper from a hole in the ground. I use ground black pepper and save the cracked stuff for when I'm making seared ahi.

From these 12 ears I ended up with 6 cups of fried corn, so about a half a cup from each ear I reckon (daddy always said I was good with my numbers). I had one cup for supper and froze the rest in five 8-ounce containers. I'll continue to buy fresh corn for now, but believe you me, when good, sweet corn is hard to come by, and that'll be pretty soon now, I know I'll have me some more in the freezer. I need to get a bigger freezer!

Now I'd like to thank all y'all for stopping by today. I linked this recipe up with Michael over at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday. So be dears, and stop in and see her and everyone else cookin' something up for you today.

Tell her Shellbelle said hello and don't forget…

Y'all come back now, y'hear!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010



for no reason whatsoever,

a girl just needs…


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife the following:

"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."

Adams had thought the day for celebration would be on July 2nd, the date the resolution of independence (the date we declared our independence from Great Britain) was approved by the Second Continental Congress, but instead we celebrate on July 4th, the day the Congress signed the resulting Declaration of Independence.

While Adams may have been off by a couple of days, we have carried on with the traditions he set forth in the letter to Abigail.

Today I would like to pay tribute to Nathan Grantham, my ancestor grandfather who served our country during the Revolutionary War. Nathan's father, James, had been drafted, but Nathan volunteered to serve so that his father would not have to leave his family, which included small children.

At the time of service, Nathan lived in Wayne County, North Carolina and one story tells of the time he was on his way home on furlough and ran into Cornwallis' men.  He hid in the swamp for several days until he could get to his house. He as very concerned about his father, mother, and small brothers and sisters, as well as his own young wife and children.  He found them safe but very cautious about the future.

Nathan Grantham was discharged from service after the capture of Cornwallis in February 1782.

From his obituary published in the Southern Christian Advocate I learned much about the character and traits of my ancestor:

Brief Memoir of Rev. Nathan Grantham

"Died at his residence in Henry County, Ala. on the 6th of May, 1839, the Rev. Nathan Grantham, aged 87 years, 11 months, and 8 days. Father Grantham, (for so he was emphatically called by all who knew him) was among the first of his countrymen who enlisted under the banner of American liberty, and he was among the first of that class of Christian who "bore the burden and heat of the day" which marked the early history of American Methodism. Shortly after the revolution, in which he acted the part of a faithful soldier and for which he received the boon of his country in his declining years, he enlisted under the peaceful banner of the cross, and thenceforth to the hour of his death, "endured hardness as a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ."

North Carolina gave him birth—there, under the ministry of that dear departed man of God, Henry Willis, he embraced religion, and there he was licensed to preach the Gospel as a local preacher of the Methodist E. Church. His talents were not of a high order, but in patience, meekness, zeal, and piety of the deepest grade, he was truly an example to the most eminent of his fellow labourers. His occupation through life was that of a schoolmaster for which the happy temperament of his mind was peculiarly adapted, few have taught so many children of the poor to read the Bible, and few indeed have inspired so many youthful mind with a reverence for its Holy precepts. Nor did his labour of love cease with the weekly exercises of his school. For no earthly compensation whatsoever, his holy days were consecrated to the services of the sanctuary, while the ardor of his zeal kept him moving in the sphere of a pioneer of the cross, from his native state of North Carolina—thence to the frontiers of Georgia—and ultimately to the wilds of Alabama. Thus more than 50 years of his life were spent in a manner not conducive to his temporal prosperity: an object which he was every ready to sacrifice for the good souls."

So today I celebrate my Revolutionary War soldier, Nathan Grantham and all others who have served or continue to serve our country. Thank you for your service.

AND, in the tradition dictated by John Adams, here are the illuminations I would like to share with you today…

These palm tree fireworks are courtesy of my friend Cris of Here and There and Everywhere from Alicante, Spain. I think they are perfect from this old beach gal to you!

Happy 4th of July!

Now get out there and do John Adams and all our heroes proud!

Update: I am so honored to have received a Most Memorable Post Award from The Muse for this posting. Family and country mean so much to me and honoring my ancestors is the least I can do for all they went through and sacrificed throughout our history.

Thank you Muse, your recognition means so much to me.

To view and read other memorable posts visit A Diva's Hammer Post Award page.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Project Genesis

This is going to be a different kind of post for me today. I've been suffering from blogging block this week. A form of writer's block in which I just didn't know what the heck I wanted to post about. I have so much on my mind, foremost is the oil spill. I just can't seem to function normally while our precious Gulf is going through such a tragic change. As I watch the news of the oil washing ashore in the form of tar balls, it breaks my heart. My life has always revolved around the beach, always. I've lived on the Pacific, the Gulf and now the Atlantic.

But, while I cry over the devastation being forced upon our shore, I also cry over the sea life that is being impacted, the water that has become polluted for who knows how long? I see people's livelihoods being destroyed. I watch this all and feel so helpless of how I can possibly help save our precious oceans. For that matter, how do we save this planet we call home?

This weighs heavily on my mind, as I know it does so many of you. So what are we going to do about it? We share recipes, photos, gardening tips, craft ideas and so much more and I love that about our blogging community, but I want to do more with my blog. Sure, I'm going to continue with my usual posts, but I want to add something in the mix and today I found a way to do that thanks to my dear friend Julie @ Being Ruby.

Julie's post today introduced me to another blogger, Susan of Old Grey Mare who has come up with what I believe is brilliant! Susan has started Project Genesis and she describes it this way:

"My goal is simple. For at least one day a month I want us all to learn something new about our environment, and educate ourselves to conserve our natural resources, restrict fossil fuels, protect our food sources and consciously make change. This will be a learning process for all of us, and I plan to be surprised by the ideas put forth and the wisdom shared."

Now some of you may know that for the last two years I have participated in the Oceanic Blog-A-Thon, hosted by Cris of Here and There and Everywhere on World Oceans Day. The first year I wrote about the Mangrove trees in Florida and the impact they have on our ecosystem. This year I wrote about an Oyster Restoration Project here in Georgia. These are two of my favorite posts, because I hope that all of you who read them learned something new on how we can protect our oceans and how each living thing, be it animal or plant work to keep our environment, thus our way of life, safe.

Today is the very first day of Project Genesis and since I was totally unprepared, my participation today will be to inform you all of this most worthy project and urge you to visit Susan, read the rules, and think about what you do to protect our planet and post next month. This will take place on the 1st day of each month. I like this idea, what do you think? Already today I visited each link of the participants, nine as of this post and learned a few things I had no idea about. Awareness is the key to knowledge and we each need to stop and think about how every decision we make has a direct impact on the world around us. So what do you think my dear, dear readers, can we all share with each other things we each do or things we've learned that will have a positive effect? My hopes today are that you will learn more about Project Genesis and share your knowledge and ideas with the rest of us on August 1, 2010. We can make a difference, one blog at a time.

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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