In 2002 we ran away from Illinois where we were born and raised, and started a new life in SW Florida. This blog is about me (an eccentric old artist), ROM (my Real Old Man), Isabella (our neurotic Standard Poodle) and Emmy (our crazy snake killing Jack Russell Terrier). Oh- and the neighborhood old people. Life is good in Florida!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Festive Underwear, Yummy Food, & Stockings Are Filled

After seeing the photos in my last post with photos of ROM's light decorating, if you had doubt my man loves lights, take a gander at his underwear...

We ate ourselves into a coma Christmas Eve. Our meal started with stone crabs, peel and eat shrimp and Crostini. It was absolutely delicious! One of the things I love about living on the Gulf is being able to have fresh shrimp and stone crabs. There is no comparison between fresh seafood and frozen seafood!

 Here's the recipe for Crostini:

Crostini With Chopped Tomatoes
Serves 6
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 sprig Italian parsley
salt and pepper
small French baguette, sliced on the bias, ¼" thick

Brush slices of bread with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toast slices of baguette at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Combine all ingredients except toast, and let sit for 20 minutes. Top toast with mixture.

Our main course was filet mignon and seasoned potato wedges with sauce.

And here's the recipes for the seasoned Potato Wedges:

Seasoned Potato Wedges
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
3 large baking potatoes (about 2-3/4 pounds)
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, divided
2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons minced chives
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, Parmesan cheese
and paprika. Cut each potato into eight wedges; dip in milk. Place
in the bag, a few at a time, and shake to coat.
Place in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Drizzle with 2
tablespoons butter. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 20 minutes.
Turn wedges; drizzle with remaining butter. Bake 20-25 minutes longer
or until potatoes are tender and golden brown.
In a large bowl, combine dip ingredients. Serve with warm potato
wedges. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Somehow after eating our Christmas Eve dinner we still had room in our well rounded tummies for chocolate cheesecake. After cleaning up the kitchen from dinner we mustered the energy to go for a walk... well, it was more of a slow waddle, so I doubt we worked off many of the million calories we had just consumed.

The last thing we had to do Christmas Eve was play Santa and fill the girls stockings...

Isabella's stocking...

Emmy's stocking....

I haven't yet downloaded the photos of them actually getting their stockings, maybe tomorrow.

Our Christmas Day was very lazy and relaxing. We had company that evening for a light and easy dinner. Lots of fingers foods and Bubba's Seafood Nachos. OMG- this recipe is so good! The recipe calls for crab meat, shrimp, and scallops. I don't care for scallops and can't eat shrimp cooked with other foods (I'm a shrimp purist) so I just doubled up on the amount of crab meat.
It was really easy to make...

 And so so very good!
Here's the recipe:

Uncle Bubba's Seafood Nachos

1 large (16-ounce) bag corn tortilla chips
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar
2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
24 ounces lump crab meat
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce, for topping
1 cup pico de gallo, for topping
10 to 12 pickled jalapeno slices, for topping
Sour cream, for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large baking pan or cast iron pan place a layer of the tortilla chips and cover with the shredded Cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses. Bake the chips for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the cheeses are melted. Remove the dish from the oven and set aside.
In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and saute the garlic until soft. Add the crab meat, shrimp, and scallops and saute for 3 minutes.

Add the cream, garlic powder, Parmesan, salt and pepper, to taste, to the seafood and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.

Remove the seafood mixture from the heat and pour over the tortilla chips. Top the nachos with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, jalapenos, and a large dollop of sour cream. Serve immediately.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday doing what you enjoy most with people you love.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Lights, lights, and more lights...

ROM loves holiday lights, and his love seems to increase every year. It all started when we were living in an apartment and he got into a competition for display space with a lady from New York. It got ugly, but it's a hilariously funny story. Then we moved here with a big yard and lots of space for his lights. He always has more lights than anyone in the community-he cruises the streets at night making sure no one has surpassed him.

All was fine until the Cougar down the street turned her cub loose with a never ending supply of lights.  They scored major points with all their lights but then lost major points for having a snowman. Snowmen in FL. are just lame and aren't a fit here. We all came here to get away from snow. But still the Cub's lights made ROM nervous, Cub was getting too close.  Of course we had to put more lights up, dontcha' know? 

So out came the ladder and he announced we're putting lights on the palm tree trunks.  He climbed to the top of the 1st palm tree and I'm assigned the task of walking around and around the trunk of the tree. Over and over again. I'm soon staggering and dizzy as I wobbly made my way around the tree a few more times. Finally it's covered to the bottom when ROM realized he started with the wrong end of the lights. Six strings of lights wound around the tree and it all had to come off. I mumbled and grumbled about how people can die from dizziness.  He completely ignored me and climbed back up on the ladder and I'm circling the tree again, this time the opposite direction taking them off. Finally they were unwound, we quickly changed ends and then I walked in tight little circles around the palm tree, again and again and again ... At last it's done, and do I get to sit down until the world stops spinning? Oh hell no- he held me upright and walked me to another tree, leaned me up against the tree as he went to find more lights in his stash.

Back up the ladder he went and I started staggering around yet another tree. I glance up at the sky and notice these storm clouds moving toward us. I told ROM to get down because it was going to rain soon. Of course he wouldn't even consider it might rain. He was on a mission. We kept going and sure enough it was soon raining. I suggested we go in but he argued we were already wet so why stop?  I resumed my staggering shuffle around the tree with rain water dripping down the crack of my ass. We finally finished the tree and all I could think of was a warm shower and dry clothes. We were done, right? Oh hell no!

It had stopped raining and ROM saw no reason for us not to continue on to the next tree. I explained to him I was dizzy, wet, and cold. He assured me the last tree wouldn't take long, and the total look would be ruined if all the palm trees weren't lit up. As I walked around and around that last tree, I decided if the Cub put any more lights up I would cut his wires. But finally we were done. And as of right this moment ROM is still King of the Lights in our neighborhood. He has already started making plans for next year... and here is ROM's wonderland of  light.. click all photos to see full size


My Poinsettias

Side of house

Wicker deer and sleigh

Christmas tree of lights around pole light with bougainvillea blooming

On the lanai, the Christmas cacti are putting on a show. I love my Christmas cactus and get so much enjoyment from watching them bloom through out the month of December. I have two red, one white and one gold. The buds on the gold are a very soft gold color but once the bud opens it looks more white. I want to get some more colors, but for now the white are my favorite because they flower so heavily.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanuka, Merry Yule, and Blessed Winter Solstice!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

In Search of the Perfect Photo...

Last weekend was perfect weather. We got up early Saturday, went out for breakfast and then searched the island for the perfect photo. The past few years  I've been creating a new calendar using 12 of our favorite photos we've taken over the past year. Our favorites usually end up being ones we've taken on Anna Maria Island. I decided this year I wanted a Christmasy/Holiday/Beach theme for the December photo.  I was sure we could find a lit wreath or a decorated tree with the Gulf in the background.

Our plan was to find the scene we wanted and then return at dusk to take the photo. We traipsed all over the island looking for that perfect scenerio. By 5 p.m we gave up searching for what I was so sure would be easy to find. I did manage to work in a little shopping while we were searching the island. Here are a couple pictures I took in one of our favorite shops, The Sand Dollar. My holiday header was also taken at the Sand Dollar. 

Admitting failure, we gave up our search and headed for Bridge Street to get a picture of the mermaid that sits on the roof of shop. They usually put a santa hat on her head and drape some lights on her. Sadly they forgot her santa hat and lights this year, although they did put a pretty wreath behind her.

This is the miniature golf course on Bridge Street, all lit up for the holidays-
 This is where we ate- The Bridge Tender...

It was such a beautiful evening, we ate out in the patio area. While we waited for our food, I wandered across the street to get this photo of the Bridge Street Pier. Now if these trees had just been on the opposite side of the island and in front of the Gulf, I would have had that perfect December photo for our calendar. It's still a pretty scene even if you can't see the water in the photo.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Emmy Tries To Kill Santa, The Little Bitch!

Our Jack Russell Terrier, Emmy, never met an animated toy she didn't want to kill. Sadly last Christmas she killed the moose who was Santa's banjo partner. Now he sits silently, unable to make a sound. The good news is that Santa survived tonight's attack and will be back to torment Emmy again... and again.... and again