Tuesday, August 31, 2010

He's Kinda Spacey

One of my favorite things about blogging is getting to see all the fabulous photos of the places you live and visit. I've been to some of these areas, but others are brought before me through your eyes. I've fallen in love with mountains, valleys and deserts all over the world that I may never get to witness firsthand. I do plan to visit some of them in the future, but there is one special guy who posts the most AWESOME photos of all and they are taken from a place I know I'll never get to go.

Did you know that Astronaut Douglas H. Wheelock posts photos from the International Space Station on TwitPic? Here's a couple of recent ones along with Doug's comments in blue…

“Out over the central Atlantic, just before another spectacular sunset, with the spiral bands of Hurricane Earl visible in the setting sun. An interesting view of the life-giving energy of our sun. The solar arrays on the port side of the Space Station as well as Hurricane Earl…both gathering the last bit of energy before they fall into eclipse.

“Hurricane Earl is gathering some serious strength. It is incredible what a difference a day makes when you’re dealing with this force of nature. Please keep a watchful eye on this one...not sure if Earl will go quietly into the night like Danielle. Earl – Go placidly amid the noise and haste…and remember what peace there may be in silence…”

Note from Shellbelle: For any of you out there in the path of Hurricane Earl, please be safe and evacuate! Take this from someone who has seen my fair share of these from the Gulf Coast of Florida. I'm not sure how far off shore Earl will be when it passes by here in Coastal Georgia, right now we are in no danger, but these storms are unpredictable, so I'll be keeping a watchful eye. Please do the same up North!

This one's for Julie @ Being Ruby and Julia @ Drawn to the Sea.
My own Julie and Julia friends, both lover's of the sea and the full moon.
Both who inspire me with their images and prose.
Thanks for being my friends.

“Fly me to the Moon…let me dance among the Stars…” 
Photo taken on June 27, 2010

And my fav from a place I'd love to visit…

“Of all the places on our glorious planet, few rival the brilliant colors of The Bahamas. Here is a view of our Progress-37 re-supply spacecraft, with the islands of The Bahamas as a backdrop. What a wonderful world!”

Check out Doug's photos from around the world — Australia, Greece, Hawaii, Italy and more, plus the crew aboard the International Space Station by clicking on any of the images above or on his name at the beginning of this post. If you have a Twitter account, you can sign in and leave a comment.

Thanks Doug, for sharing these stunning photos with us!

You're kinda spacey,

but we love you!

I'm going to link this up with Susan @ Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday, after all you can't get any more outdoorsy than this! Have a wonderful week!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Women Supporting Women

This morning I started to surf around some of my favorite blogs to see what everyone is up to. I've been a little behind lately, I have yet another life altering change coming up. I'm still trying to make lemonade out of lemons and some days it's easier than others. One thing I always tell myself is that with all I'm dealing with, there are many others out there who are facing much bigger challenges.

One thing that keeps me going is all of you. Your support and kind words give me strength to keep persevering. We have all witnessed this here in Blogland over and over again. Today I dropped in at Sissie's Shabby Cottage  and learned about the story I'm sharing with you today. I know that many of you have already heard about Colette's Room Makeover, we travel around Blogland together or you could have read Colette's story of battling with cancer in the latest issue of Guideposts Magazine. For those who haven't, please take a few minutes of your time. By leaving a comment on the blogs listed below a $1.00 donation will be made for another room makeover for someone in need of an uplift, both physically and emotionally. Women supporting women — it doesn't get any better than that!

Kelee @ The Katillac Shack

Beverly @ How Sweet the Sound

Sherry @ Country Wings in Phoenix

Charlotte & Ginger @ Miracle Sundays

Susan @ Between Naps On the Porch

Guideposts Facebook Page
(be sure to click on "like" so that you can leave a comment.

Comments will be eligible for donations on all these links
through midnight Tuesday, August 31.

Working together we can bring a smile like Colette's to the face of another.

Photo Copyright The Katillac Shack 2010

Thank you, I love you all!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Other Shellbelle

There is one friend in the life of each of us who seems not a separate person,
however dear and beloved, but an expansion, an interpretation, of one's self,
the very meaning of one's soul. 
~Edith Wharton

Today I would like to share with you a little story about a friendship I hold dear to my heart.
She also happens to be the "other" Shellbelle.

Karen and I at The Bailey Matthews Shell Museum on Sanibel Island

Karen and I met almost fifteen years ago while working together as servers at one of the many local seafood restaurants in Clearwater, Florida. We were overworked, underpaid and I don't think she really knew what to make of this transplanted California gal. I know I drove Karen (and everyone else) crazy with my incessant conversations that included the phrase, "in California, we…". It was a hard transition for me, but eventually I came to embrace the difference in cultures between the South and the West. You have to remember that I was born in the South and I was raised by Southern parents. Anyway, back to my story.

In the course of our budding friendship, which included a bomb threat at the aforementioned establishment, Karen and I discovered we both loved shelling and that started the bonding process. We spent countless hours on countless beaches in our pursuit of these gems. Buckets filled and garages bulged. We had to find something to do with them and crafting was the natural solution. We loved it…even did a few art shows. We called ourselves The Shellbelles and while we didn't make our fortune, we had a great time and our friendship was cemented. All these years later, Shellbelle is what I chose for my screen name, this brings precious memories to me of shelling with a wonderful friend.

There are countless stories I could tell of our adventures, but my favorite one took place on Honeymoon Island. 

To get to Honeymoon Island, you drive about five minutes over the Dunedin Causeway, park your car and get ready to walk one of the most gorgeous beaches you've ever seen. Well, Karen and I have done this numerous times, but I'll never forget the day we reached the end of the island just as the sun was setting. The view was spectacular! AND THEN, when we turned to head back, the moon was rising in the opposite direction. So, to the West, the sky was full of oranges, reds and yellows AND to the East the sky was full of blues and purples. This was in the days before digital cameras, so there are no photos to show you, but the memory will be forever emblazoned in my mind. There is one thing you should know about Honeymoon Island, it is a State Park and closes at dusk.

Honeymoon Island is about four miles long, so you can see we had to walk a bit over two miles and we only had a couple of minutes to do it! So, we start back, lugging our full buckets of shells and trying not to look down for any shells we may have missed along the way. Honest, we really tried, but this is hard for a sheller, it goes against our very nature. Thinking that we might not make it before the gate closes and that we'd be spending the night on the beach, we picked up the pace as best we could given the circumstance. Then off in the distance we see the ranger's jeep heading in our direction. Rescued! We did figure we'd be in trouble. How could we explain that we got caught up in the sunset and the moonrise? "Sir, the sky was incredible, it wouldn't let us go. We were trapped like deers in headlights, transfixed by nature.Please, don't take us to jail."

We needn't have worried though, the young man who picked us up got out of the jeep with a big smile on his face. Whew! He told us that they had to drive out to the end of the island everyday to make sure there were no stragglers. The fact that Karen had homemade brownies with her, that she quickly offered to our rescuer, didn't hurt. In fact, he told us that he wouldn't mind picking us up in the future, if we ever found ourselves in the same predicament.

Yep, the stories could go on and on. Like Christmas Eve 2000, when we hit the shell motherlode at the North Jetty in Nokomis, Florida…

Karen blogs about that experience on her post titled, Shellbelle Shells Seashells by the Seashore.

Love that title! What? I didn't mention she now has a blog? What do you think the purpose of this post is? Hah! Tricked you didn't I? Yep, after much prodding and cajoling, Karen has finally started her own blog! I am so excited and would LOVE for you to drop by, say hello and give her some encouragement.

The Essential Beachcomber is about shelling, of course, junkin' and living the good life on the Gulf of Mexico. A native Floridian, Karen can tell you the best beaches to go to, the best beaches to find shark's teeth and she even provides a map to the finest "Junke Shoppes" in the area! While you're there, you'll find out why I love this woman so, she is a rare spirit, who looks at the world and sees all the good around us. She is a rock and her love for family shines through. I am proud to call her my friend. She has always been there for me, driving over an hour and a half to sit and pray with my mother when she was near the end of her life's journey. She has been there for me in the good times and has seen me through the rough times. She is always just a phone call away when I need a shoulder. She is my absolute favorite shelling buddy and we have BIG plans to go night shelling together in November. Two beach gals who LOVE shelling, life is good.

The Essential Beachcomber at Play

Karen with her hubby. Look at that sky!

Karen, I will always cherish you and hold you dear. You are my favorite treasure I found at the beach.

This was the story of two women, one friendship and their love of the shore.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Squash and Onions Southern Style

Those who are regular readers here know that I recently made the BIG move to Georgia. Prior to the move I had  been living with my sis for 10 years and she had made the decision to stay in Florida. What does all this mean? Well, we had to undertake the task of dividing up our belongings. Most things were easy, but when it came to the kitchen things got messy. Most everything in the kitchen belonged to me since I'm the one who LOVES to cook, but she had gotten rid of her things to make room for mine. This meant that I had to play fair and give up some of my stuff and believe me when I tell you — I have a LOT of stuff. I won't bore you with all the details, it actually went pretty smoothly and we each walked away happy. One thing she ended up with was the pasta pot. This was my idea and I had no qualms about the matter, BUT once I got settled in I discovered that the HUGE pasta pot I had was far to BIG  and I LOVE pasta! I mean my pot was the size you use when you're cookin' for a crowd. Like when ten of your family members show up for Sunday supper.

I've been on the hunt for one since I moved here, but nothing caught my eye, so when CSN Stores ask me if I would like to do a product review, I knew exactly what I would search for. I choose the Circulon Contempo 5.5 Quart Covered Straining Casserole.

I love CSN Stores, as I know many of you do. They've sponsored two giveaways here at The Hut and many others around our blogging community. I was also the lucky recipient of a set of Pfaltzgraff dishes from Cindy's CSN giveaway at Applestone Cottage. All three packages I've received from this company have come as scheduled and packaged perfectly. I can understand why they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, they've got this whole online buying thing down!

Anyway, I've had my pot for about two weeks now and it has become the favorite pot in my kitchen. Of course, it is perfect for boiling pasta or potatoes and the straining lid makes this task so easy. Each side of the lid has holes for draining, one side for larger foods and the other for smaller foods. Now, I've always used a colander for this task, but I can honestly tell you that is a thing of the past here at The Hut! What I really love about being able to drain right from this pot is that the lid locks on securely. This means I can shake the dickens out of it and get out more water than I ever could with my colander. The boiling water can no longer stay hidden in my penne or in my ziti. I can turn it this pot every which way to make sure my shells (the pasta kind, not the ones I pick up on the beach) are dry as can be. This improves the overall quality of my finished dish, no more water-downed sauce or soggy potato salad!

Now you'd think that would be all I could say about this pot, but because I have limited space in my new kitchen, I like things to be versatile, so I further tested this pot with a few of my favorite recipes. I used it to make ribs and rice; a dish where the rice normally sticks to the bottom. Not so with this pot! Not only did the rice not stick, it took far less watching and stirring. This tells me that the pot cooks nice and evenly with no hot spots to scorch my dinner. Oh yeah, I'm loving this pot!

I also used it to make squash and onions, a dish I've made in a cast-iron skillet all my life and a dish that takes constant watching. I was afraid the vents in the lid would let all the juices evaporate and I would have to add more, but it didn't. The result was moist, delicious and the clean-up a breeze. While I'm on the subject of cast-iron I want to share something with you. I love my cast iron pots and skillets, but when I moved to Florida there was no natural gas in my area and the same thing holds true here. I don't know about you, but I don't love cooking with cast iron on electric stoves, it just doesn't yield the same results. I have a glass-top stove and my oven is convection, which I love, but I stopped making my cornbread in a cast-iron skillet because the crust never turned out crusty. I starting making my squash and onions in a regular skillet and while it was good, it was never as good as when I used cast-iron. Well, I don't know what it is about this pot, but I love, love, LOVE how my recipe turned out!

Since it is oven-proof to 400 degrees, I also wanted to try baking in it, so I made a casserole complete with lots of cheese. I hate washing glass casserole dishes, something always sticks and there is lots of soaking and scrubbing involved, ugh! Again, this pot cleaned up in a flash. I highly recommend this product for yourself and as a perfect wedding gift.

Now you didn't think I'd let Friday go by without sharing a recipe did you? This one is easy and falls under the comfort food category. I grew up eating this as made by my Southern mother. She cooked it in bacon grease, as did any self-respecting Southern cook did in those days and it was soooo good, but I don't eat bacon any more, so there is no grease can sittin' around. This dish does call for fat though, I've tried making it with spray oil, but honey, it is no where near the same. I use butter, yep I do, I admit it, sometimes a gal just needs fat and this is one of the few dishes I cook with lots of fat.

Squash and Onions

6 yella (crookneck) squash, sliced medium
1 large Vidalia onion, sliced into rings
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

    Melt butter in a large skillet or pot. Add squash and onion in layers, sprinkling with salt and pepper as you go. I use Paul Prudhomme's Magic Seasoning Salt. I love all of his seasonings and this one is a great blend for everyday use.
    Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally. The squash will start to become tender, so stir gently, but if it starts to break up a bit that's just fine. You want the squash to be nice and tender. This takes about 20 minutes. Serve it up with baked chicken, grilled fish or a nice pork loin. Honey, your taste buds will do the happy dance and any stress you're feeling will just melt away.

      Tip: Now if you like things a bit on the spicy side you can add in a small can of diced chiles.

      How's this for a little down-home cookin'?

      Baked chicken and sweet potato, sliced 'maters with 1000 Island
      and today's recipe — Squash and Onions. Enjoy!

      That's if for today, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and remember to tell those close to you that you love 'em.

      Be sure to stop by Michael's over at Designs By Gollum for more Foodie Friday recipes.

      Wednesday, August 18, 2010

      Let's Go Surfin'

      Let's go surfin' now
      Everybody's learning how
      Come on and safari with me…

      I recently learned about this very cool camera and I'd like to share its capabilities with you today. It is wayyyyyy cool! I should tell you that I have no affiliation with this company whatsoever. They didn't contact me and I haven't contacted them. BUT, I would be very excited if they offered me one for review, lol.

      The camera is the HD Hero Naked by Go-Pro Camera and it is the world's highest performance wearable HD video and still photo camera. Retails for $259.99. The batteries last for over 2.5 hours, so you can record an entire event!

      They have a few different models and lots of mounts to choose from. You can mount these cameras on a tripod, the handlebars of your bike or motorcycle, a helmet or the roll bar of your race car. Do you have a race car? They also have a suction cup mount, a chest mount harness and a head or writst strap mount. Get the picture? There is a mount for just about any activity.

      My favorite, of course, is the HD Surf Hero Camera that mounts to surfboards.

      If you're like me and you love sitting on the beach and watching hunky surfers, these videos will bring you as close to the action as possible without getting your feet wet. I couldn't choose between the two, they're both short, so sit back and enjoy the ride!

      From the BBC comes this HD super slow motion video of big wave surfer Dylan Longbottom in a 12 foot monster barrel wave - the first shots of their kind ever recorded.

      "The camera can also shoot automatic 5 megapixel photos at 2/5/10/30 and 60 second intervals during your activity, hands free. Press the shutter button once at the start of your activity and record up to 2.5 hours of poster-print quality photos of you and your friends, living it up."

      This is how I learned about this camera, because my son did just this as he started carving his latest tiki. He shot 1000s of photos over a 4-day period and then using movie software he put the photos together into what is called a stop-motion video and speeded it up by like a 1000 times. So, what took him four days to do is reduced to just over three minutes.

      My son loves this camera and plans to do the same thing throughout the entire process of carving this tiki. I can't wait to see the final result! For those who haven't seen any of his finished work, here are a couple of examples:

      For a review of this camera by a professional photographer and kite surfer stop by Thierry Dehove's website. He also offers some great advice on using this camera should you decide to indulge yourself.

      Here's a couple of stills he took while kite surfing…

      Now can your camera do that?

      Thierry's living the good life between the USA and the Caribbean and is one AWESOME photographer! Check out his website or become a fan on Facebook. Oh, and be sure to check out his French Rivera Album while your there, it's stunning.

      So, there you have it, another little goodie I'd like to have the next time I'm out nature shooting at the beach or when I get my new bike. What do you think? Is this cool or what?

      Friday, August 13, 2010

      Caribbean Shrimp Cocktail

      I have to thank two fabulous bloggers for making this post possible. Linda @ Coastal Charm and Heather @ Simpledaisy.

      Last weekend my cousin Jackie was coming to my house so that we could celebrate our birthdays yet again. This time it would be just the two of us and the original plan was that we would get one of the decadent chocolate cakes from Publix and eat ourselves sick. Since I've been eating like crazy during what seemed liked The Birthday That Would Not End celebrations and since she is going to Hawaii in October, we both decided we didn't want to add any more pounds on than were necessary. We decided on a light lunch of shrimp cocktails and just a slice of cake for each of us.

      Well, to make a long story short (kind of), a few weeks ago Linda announced on her blog that she had won a subscription to Southern Lady Magazine and posted this photo of a fresh blackberry cake…

      (Please, if anyone has this magazine, could you send me the recipe? Thanks)

      Doesn't it look yummy? I went to the magazine's website to see if the recipe was posted. The cake recipe wasn't there, but they did have one for a shrimp cocktail that set my heart to spinning — Caribbean Shrimp Cocktail! The shrimp are sautéed in butter with jerk seasoning and served with a pineapple-mango salsa. WOW, what's not to love?

      The colors are so bright, cheery and summery, don't you think? And they match my new Pfaltzgraff dishes perfectly. I knew this is what we would be having and let me tell you, I will never make shrimp cocktail the old way again. They were heavenly! Just the right touch of spice and the jerk seasoning with the salsa was a match made in taste bud heaven. The only thing I added was some Vidalia onion.

      Caribbean Shrimp Cocktail

      Makes 8 servings (about 1/2 cup each)

      • 2 cups finely chopped mango (about 2 medium)
      • 2 cups finely chopped fresh pineapple
      • 1/2 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion (I added this ingredient)
      • 1 1/2 cups seeded and chopped Roma tomatoes (about 6 medium)
      • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
      • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
      • 1 teaspoon lime zest
      • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
      • 24 large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails on)
      • 2 tablespoons Caribbean jerk seasoning
      • 1/4 cup butter

      1. In a medium bowl, combine mango, pineapple, tomatoes, jalapeño, cilantro, lime zest, 1 tablespoon lime juice, salt, and pepper; cover, and refrigerate.
      2. In a medium bowl, combine shrimp and jerk seasoning; toss gently to coat.
      3. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add shrimp and remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice; cook shrimp for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until shrimp are firm and pink. Do not overcook!

      I know that there are those who hate cutting up a mango, so let me show you how I do it. First, when your buying a mango, find one that is ripe, without being overly ripe, think about how an avocado feels — soft, but not mushy.

      Slice your mango lengthwise. Again, think about an avocado and you'll get the picture. Remove the seed.

      Cut through the pulp without puncturing the skin in a crosshatch pattern, small for diced and larger for cubed. For this recipe we want a small dice.

      Now put your thumbs on opposite sides and from underneath, gently push up with your fingers. This is what you'll end up with…

      To dice, slice through twice, the first time to catch the upper half and the next time close to the skin. Perfect and so easy when you get the hang of it.

      Since I didn't have everything on hand to make my own jerk seasoning, this is the spice I used…

      It was delicious and a real time-saver, no pulling out the mortar and pestle to grind spices. I used it on fish a few days later to make a quick wrap and again last night on baked chicken breasts. Mmmm…yummy.

      By special request for Sherry @ Country Wings in Phoenix: To make fish tacos, just grill or sauté a firm-fleshed fish such as Mahi Mahi with this spice or something else with a real kick and then cut into cubes. Put the chunks in a soft taco shell with a nice chunky salsa, some lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded white cheese (optional) and avocado slices. Like any kind of taco, you can change up these ingredients to suit your taste. They are delicious and perfect for a hot summer meal! We've been eating them in California for years and years and I'm happy to see them cropping up on menus in Florida.

      Okay, back to my little luncheon. I set a simple table…

      and served these shrimp cocktails with Leinenkugel's beer.

      Heather had mentioned this brewery earlier this summer when she gave a shout out for their Summer Shandy, a beer brewed with honey with a natural lemonade flavor.

      I went for their Honey Weiss and let me tell you, this beer also has summer written all over it. Light golden yellow in color with a faint hint of honey in the aroma. I am not a beer drinker, that is until now. I love this beer! Very drinkable, a real girly beer and it went perfectly with our shrimp cocktails. Plus I love that the brewery name starts with L E I, as in those beautiful garlands of flowers that originated in Hawaii.

      Before I tell you about our dessert I have to show you something! The next day I still had a little shrimp and salsa leftover, so I invited a friend over for beer and made the shrimp cocktails in an appetizer size. I served them in my new Artland Rockwell Stemless Martini Glasses.

      I fell in love with these glasses the moment I saw them at CSN Stores and was thrilled when they sent them to me to review!

      They are perfect to keep your martini chilled on a hot summer evening, but I had another idea when they arrived — why not use them for appetizers? Since I had company coming and wanted to show off these unique glasses, I filled them with Caribbean Shrimp Cocktail and my guest was so impressed.

      Being able to prepare these ahead of time and storing them in the fridge for about an hour or so gave me plenty of time to get ready for my guest. They came out perfect and really showed off my appetizer. The 4-ounce size was just the right size. These are made with mouth blown glass and are absolutely gorgeous! They come in sets of two and are available in two sizes — 4 oz. and 8 oz.

      They would also be fabulous for a chilled dipping sauce, such as a pesto mayonnaise, topped with little skewers of lobster bites.

      Okay, let's move on to dessert! My cousin picked up two slices of cake at the bakery in Fresh Market…

      Can you see how rich and moist this cake was? They tasted like a cross between cake and fudge. We savored every bite!

      As if that were not enough chocolate, she also spotted this wine at the market and brought if along…

      Chocolate wine, who knew? Made in Holland, ChocoVine is a blend of red wine and chocolate. RICH! Jackie said it tasted like a chocolate martini and I said it tasted like an adult-version of a YooHoo. Surprisingly, we both loved it, but agreed it was very rich and very strong-tasting. Definitely don't serve this with a chocolate dessert, we went on chocolate overload. This would be delicious served with fresh strawberries, in fact, pour it in a martini glass garnished with a strawberry and you'll be in heaven.

      That's it for today, I'm giving the Caribbean Shrimp Cocktail recipe 5 BIG stars, I will be serving it often. Let me know when you'll be by and I'll be sure to hit the docks here in Saint Marys when the shrimping boats come in. For now, I'm linking up with everyone over at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday. Be sure to stop in, Michael and Bandwidth made a Strawberry Salsa with Grilled Salmon. Seems we both had fruit and seafood on our minds this week!

      Tuesday, August 10, 2010

      The Fifty Cent Garage Sale

      Since I moved to Saint Marys, Georgia I haven't found any great garage sales, but last week when I was Dunedin, Florida, I hit the jackpot! I was staying at a friends house and on the last day I was out watering her backyard before leaving to head over to my daughter's. I noticed the two senior ladies who live net door were emptying out a storage shed in their backyard and when I ask if they were getting ready for a garage they said yes and everything is going to be 50 cents!

      I turned off the hose and headed right over. Since I was their first customer of the day, I had first choice. Here's what I packed in the car for only…

      50 cents a piece!

      The clear vase is a little over 12-inches tall and is going to look fabulous filled with part of my seashell collection. The ruby-colored vase is 9-inches tall; I love when the sun hits ruby glass!

      Since it was early in the morning and I had not had any coffee yet, I missed out on the deal of the day. The ladies had an 8-foot rattan shelf in perfect condition. It would have been perfect on my front porch with my rattan chairs, but I never could have fit it in my car. For 50 cents, I should have bought it and put it in my friends garage and figured out how to get it to Georgia later. Oh well, my loss, someone else's gain.

      The day before I had hit another sale in the neighborhood and walked away with these bargains:

      These three nestled baskets came to me for only $2.00.

      I have developed a passion for Pfaltzgraff dishes after receiving a set in a giveaway from Cindy @ Applestone Cottage. When I saw this brand new in the box set at another garage sale, I quickly snapped service for four up for only $5.00!

      This Garden Sunrise set is part of Pfaltzgraff's everyday collection. I love the bright, summery colors.

      I'm linking with Linda @ Coastal Charm for Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays to show off my bargains. Be sure to stop by to see all the other goodies that were found this week!


      Friday, August 6, 2010

      Fun with Rhonda and Jane

      Recently my dear friend Sharon called to say that she and her hubby were heading to Toronto to visit friends and family. She knew I was coming down to celebrate my birthday that weekend  and wanted to know if I wanted to come a few days early and stay in their home, so that I could have spend some time at the beach. How long do you think it took me to say YES!? They live in Dunedin, Florida, one of my absolutely favorite towns on the West Coast.

      I headed out for my trip last Thursday and I have to tell you, Sharon is the best hostess ever! Not only did she offer her home as a vacation getaway, she left Jamaican Curry Chicken marinating in the refrigerator for me, along with rice and apple pie. Oh my gosh, it was out of this world good! She also left  a gift card for a free frozen custard at Ritter's, a discount coupon for the local wine store, two local neighborhood newspapers full of all kinds of goings on and I got to see all the wonderful paintings and sculptures she has completed since I moved. I am so blessed with fabulous friends.

      Speaking of friends, I also finally got to meet one of my favorite bloggers — Jane of Artfully Graced

      Rhonda emails Jane. Jane says, come Rhonda, come, let's have fun. Come and play. Fun, fun, fun. Yes, Jane, yes, I will come.  See the sun. Sun, sun, sun. Run on the beach. Run, run, run. Meet Jane for lunch. Talk, talk, talk. Eat, eat, eat. Oh, Jane, I had such fun. 

      Fun, fun, fun.

      Jane and I have been reading each other's blogs for close to a year now and we tried to get together while I still lived there, but our schedules kept this from happening. So, instead of a 30-minute drive, I drove four and a half hours. After meeting Jane, I can tell you honestly that I would drive across the country to hang out with her again! I had such a GREAT time and it was far to short a visit.

      Jane treated me to lunch at the Ozona Blue Grilling Company, located in the Home Port Marina in Palm Harbor, Florida. 

      125 Orange Street North
      Palm Harbor, Florida

      Just look at this view…

      We sat out on the deck overlooking the swimming pool. Yes, this restaurant has a pool and anyone can use it during the week. How cool is that? On the weekends they close it down and serve dinner on the patio.

      This is a favorite spot for Jane's family and I can understand why. The view was gorgeous, the service was perfect and the food was so yummy!

      Fish Tacos for me

      Grouper Sandwich for Jane

      I love fish tacos and if you haven't had them, you don't know what your missing. They are very popular in California and in recent years I find them more on more on Florida menus. But I make them myself, so if you can't find them — MAKE THEM. They are perfect for hot summer days.

      Anyway, Jane and I talked nonstop for TWO hours. Her hubby had asked what we would talk about since we had never met. No problem! That's is what is great when you get together with fellow bloggers. We already know we have a lot in common (that's why we read each others blogs isn't it?), so it's like getting together with an old friend. If you haven't met any of your blogging friends yet, take my word for it, don't put it off any longer.

      Jane is a doll and I swear it was like having lunch with someone I've known all my life. Now, of course, I love Jane's art and believe me she is SO talented and her art is such fun. If you remember she painted a tiki hut for me when I moved to Georgia, well, last week she showed up with this gift…

      Isn't she adorable? As soon as I unwrapped it and felt it in my hands I knew that
      it was painted on something every sheller loves — a sand dollar.

      This is an Arrowhead Sand Dollar from the Philippines and the shape is absolutely perfect for painting fish. Yes, that is the natural shape.

      I knew she had to go somewhere very special. I don't think I've shown you this mirror before. Can you see all the wood cutwork? Seashells, of course.

      This cute little fish picked up the colors in the photos I framed and just balanced out this area. Did you notice that when I hung those frames I glued little starfish to the nails? They used to have bows, but I think the starfish fit my style much better.

      To Jane, I thank you so much for showing me such a great time. I could have talked the day away with you. I love hearing you talk about your family. There is such love and pride in your words and to me, family is everything. I loved hearing the passion in your voice as we talked about art. You are such an inspiration and even more so now, a dear, dear friend. I can't wait to see you again! I'm hoping to make it out for your home art show and you know I'll be there if you do the show in Savannah.

      I adore blogging and all the friendships I've made in the last year have brought such joy to my life. We are a loving community and I treasure all of you everyday.
      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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      Go to the Beach in Style!