Saturday, May 29, 2010



That was the sound made by Music Guy (MG) this morning as he looked at his breakfast...

Cinnamon French Toast with Bananas and Applewood Smoked Bacon.

There is no "recipe" for this French toast.... I just scramble 6 eggs in a flat-bottomed dish, and added about 1/2 -3/4 cup of half and half, lots of Saigon cinnamon and a couple of dashes of pure vanilla extract. The big "SECRET" is the bread. Fresh Market makes a cinnamon raisin bread that is perfect for French toast. I buy the unsliced bread and cut it into thick slices. The texture of the bread soaks up the egg mixture perfectly. Griddle up these slices in a non-stick, DRY pan (I hate greasy, oily French toast!). Top with butter or Olivio and maple syrup. Add bananas...or strawberries, blueberries, etc...or a mixture of all three and enjoy. If you really need additional sweetness, you can sprinkle with powdered sugar.

What a way to start the day.... and it's quick and easy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Explore Central Florida... Tavares

Tavares... "America's Seaplane City"

Look what's new in Tavares... An airport for sea planes!

Nestled alongside Lake Dora is Tavares, the county seat of Lake County, in Florida. It's a cool little town just down the road from Mt. Dora (known for its quaint shopping and art/crafts/antique festivals).

Since my first visit to Tavares, a year ago, I have observed wonderful development of the lakeside area. There is a fabulous water park for the kids....complete with a "plane" that has propellers which shoot streams of water! And now, there is the new "airport" for sea planes. All along the waterfront, new, interesting restaurants are opening. The lake views from these restaurants are spectacular... especially the sunsets and sunrises! There are also some fabulous water festivals...sanctioned Jet Ski competitions, bass fishing contests, speed boat racing...and more. There is even a "Planes, Train and BBQ" competition! (Check with the official website for a list of events... )

Here's a photo of the water park... Wouldn't you just love to play here!!! There's lots of shade in this park...provided by an abundance of oak trees. Picnic tables are also available.

Tavares is also known for it's natural beauty. The Dora Canal and other byways are wonderful places to canoe, kayak, or motor through. There is an abundance of wildlife just waiting to be enjoyed and photographed. Below, you will find some beautiful photos, borrowed from the Tavares website...

These wildlife photos were taken by Pat Johnson, a resident of Tavares and an avid photographer. She has captured the beauty of natural Florida in these photos.

This is one of my photos...taken in the late afternoon, along the shores of Lake Dora...just a short distance from the water district. I just love this drive... It's the lakeshore drive between Mt. Dora and Tavares.

This area is definitely worth a day trip...better yet, a weekend getaway. There are some wonderful B&Bs in the area...and it's only 40 minutes from the Big Mouse area of Orlando.

Get out and explore...

Be sure to visit Susan ( to see all the fabulous Outdoor Wednesday links.

***** Quick side note: This weekend is the 2010 Florida Folk Festival in White Springs, FL.
It's held at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. For more information, go to

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Feeling Creative again...finally!!!

After weeks of helping my mom and sil with health issues and hospitals, and dealing with a major sinus infection (DO NOT DELAY in seeing a doctor when you feel the symptoms starting!!!), I am finally feeling human, although exhausted all the time...and CREATIVE. After all, it's time to change the look of my home... Off with the reds and oranges, in with the cool summer blues! That means...rolling up the old rug, laying down the new, changing pillow covers, hanging new paintings in the blue shades and bringing in the blue chair. These are little changes, but what a complete difference in the looks of both the family room and living room! I even changed the "drapes". All that's left to do is to recover the ottoman with a lovely blue, green and white striped fabric. Maybe later...time for another nap!

Here's a peek of some of the changes... The Breakfast Room.

As usual, I forgot to take photos of the "before" and concentrated on the "after"...
Here are the new additions to my breakfast room wall...

This was a $.50 framed painting. The painting was done on a piece of very thin wood and the frame was in terrible shape. The inner border is a linen fabric....all surfaces were gaudy shades of gold, browns, and blacks. I used a mop brush and pounced the frame with "bright aqua green" acrylic paint. The "painting" was painted over with "mars black" to resemble a chalkboard. The writing was done with "titanium white". And that little footprint is actually cut from a print found on the internet and decoupaged onto the board. Simple...quick...and just right for my wall!

This mirror was found at an art wholesale store...$9.00. It was painted silver with metallic gold "bamboo". I had planned to cover the frame with shells...and may one day do that. But for now, it sports "cerulean blue", "lime green", and "lavender" over the silver and gold (some of which peeks through!). The Sand dollars were found on Honeymoon Island (Dunedin, FL) and are hot glued to the mirror. I did try using ZOTS for a less permanent decoration, but they were not strong enough to hold for a long period of time. They actually popped off, one at a time, during a dinner party!

The paintings are my "Beach Huts" and "Coconuts for Sale"....I have shared the huts before, but was inspired by a photograph found on "Beachsnaps blog" (thanks, Becky!). It was a scene from Matlacha...

The floats were found on a sale table at Steinmart for $1 and $3. They were painted the most awful shade of mauve (Ick!!!) With a little paint, they are now worthy of displaying. The styrofoam floats in the basket are actual crab trap markers found on the beach after a storm. (Don't you love these kinds of treasures!!!)

All of these items, paired with jars of shells (the shells were found at our local beach...Honeymoon Island; the jars are Home Goods and garage sales) and a burlap topped table, my breakfast room is ready for summer.
*All paints are acrylics by Liquitex and Amsterdam (found at Michael's)


Check out all the wonderful Thrifty Treasures at Tales from Bloggeritaville and the Tablescapes at Between Naps on the Porch. These posts will definitely get the creative juices flowing...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Grandma's Special...Cracked Sugar Cookies

Have you ever found a cookie recipe that EVERYONE LOVES? This is one of those.

When I first began blogging, I shared a bit about my mom...aka "The Cookie Lady". At 91, Mom has forgotten a lot about the recipes she has prepared for oh so many years. She struggles to remember how to measure, how to set the oven. and other rudimentary cooking details. BUT...she has not forgotten how to bake Cracked Sugar Cookies!

In her residence, she shares her baking efforts...carrying little ziploc bags of these cookies down to the dining room. People clamor to get some of Helen's cookies...and those who miss out, often come knocking on her door to ask if she has any more. She's become so popular that her kids have begun to give her the makings of these cookies for any special occasion.

Why are they called Cracked Sugar Cookies? Well look at the cutaway... the center of these cookies are hollow!

These cookies are among my family's favorites. The first time I made them, I sent my future husband across the state with 6 dozen cracked sugars to give to his grandmother...she got CRUMBS! The first recipe all three of my sons asked to have was cracked sugars and my DIL asked me to bake these cookies for her to take to her company Christmas party. My neighbor likes when she leaves a dish here...she wants the Cracked Sugars I usually put in her dish as a thank you. It's one of my most requested recipes. And so I will share it with you.....


1 stick butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
2 cups flour

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, sugar. Add yolks and vanilla. Mix together. Sift together the salt, baking soda, cream of tartar and flour. Combine all the ingredients. Roll the dough into 1-1 1/2 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet (I always line with parchment paper)...about 2 inches apart. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container to maintain crispness.
Makes 6 dozen.

Be sure to visit for more great Foodie Friday recipes!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Everybody's Doing the....


It's that time of year...
All along the west coast of Florida, the warnings are posted...

It's Time to do the STINGRAY SHUFFLE!

About this time each year, Stingrays are commonly found in our warm, shallow Gulf coastal waters. Most of the time, they can be found buried in the sand, and moving with the sway of the tide. Due to the stingray's coloration, which reflects the seafloor's shading, beachgoers are instructed to shuffle their feet when in the water, so they will not step on a stingray or especially their tails. The Stingrays' flattened bodies are composed of pectoral fins joined to their head and trunk with an infamous tail trailing behind. The tail has a barb, which holds the venom. The venom is not enough to severely harm a human, but it sure hurts like heck! By shuffling your feet, you warn the stingray of your presence and it can move away...and you will not step down onto a barb.

Although members of the shark family, stingrays - at least those who live in the Gulf waters, will not harm you. That's why there are stingrays found in most museum "please touch" pools.

Last spring, I was shuffling along, about 5 feet from shore, in knee-deep water, when I disturbed a ray... it rose from the sand and fluttered in the water. Seconds later, if appeared that the whole sandy bottom was rising. Stingrays rose from their hiding places in every direction! They swam by me, gently brushing my legs with their fins. What a glorious sight! (and I did not have a camera!!!)

These graceful creatures are an absolute joy to watch. Just be sure to SHUFFLE.....

Come to the beach...
Jane (artfully graced)