Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fun with SPAM.....

Antebellum Monticello, FL

Lovely Christ Episcopal Church (click to enlarge and see the amazing stained glass!)

Wednesday brought gorgeous weather and we were heading towards Tallahassee to spend some time with Smokey and Pam (SPAM) at Roger and Sue Haddis' place, which we dubbed "Almost Paradise"......Roger and Sue have about 10 acres near the little antebellum town of Monticello. What a delightful place....they have parking for several RV's, surrounded by tall trees, and of course, the requisite Spanish Moss, a huge firepit, and all the other natural surroundings to make "camping" really FUN!

SPAM...Smokey and Pam

Almost Paradise (click to see Buster and Bailey!)

Roger and Sue are two wonderful folks and great hosts...we were sorry they had to leave Thursday morning heading to Alabama, but we saved some Coconut Cream pie for you....Pam has custody of the pie...... so all bets are off!!!!!! But you have a standing raincheck for a pie next time our paths cross!!

Oh, and did I mention that these guys drive BIG trucks?...really BIG trucks....we feel like a tiny sardine next to them!!!

Pam had a big pot of Spaghetti sauce simmering when we arrived and served us a great dinner Wednesday evening...there is always something so comforting about Italian was a feast that we enjoyed for sure!!! We brought tons of ripe strawberries from Webster, so we made up a Lendy's Fresh Strawberry Pie for dessert....gee, we will miss our fresh berries!! YUMYUM!
Bob, Pam, Smokey and Roger, ready for Spaghetti!

Bob and Smokey fired up the campfire both nights and we had a grand ol' time enjoying the flames! Last week Pam emailed me asking if I had a recipe for Italian Beef.....well, I had never heard of it, but started researching and it sounded GOOD! So discovering that this is a slow cooked beef roast loaded with garlic, oregano, basil, and other wonderful Italian herbs, then shredded and served with Aus jus on fluffy rolls.....well, I just had to try this recipe!!! And, boy, are we glad we did....that stuff was good!!! It is just downright plain ol' good, aromatic and enticing beef! (Sorry, Katie!) We also simmered squash with bacon and onions and that little ol' Pineapple Cheddar casserole....then we enjoyed it all under the trees with the campfire glowing! YUM YUM just doesn't get much better that this!

Well, maybe a little better, because we still had to eat Coconut Cream Pie and German Chocolate Pie......

There was a little game of Hand and Foot going on....sorry girls, but the gals lost; only because it was decided to quit when the guys were ahead due to the falling darkness!

Serious Hand and Foot!

What a memorable and fun time we had with two of our very favorite people!! It is always good to spend time with SPAM!!! We'll miss these guys, and their furry kids, Buster and Bailey, but we'll see them down the road again soon!

Hugs to everyone!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Monticello, FL, then Westward to Texas

Jefferson County Courthouse in Monticello

Wednesday found us leaving Florida Grande heading west towards Kerrville, Texas and Buckhorn Lake Resort for the Gathering. Our first stop is in Monticello, Fl, just east of Tallahassee, where we will spend a couple of days with Smokey and Pam at Roger and Sue's Toyland Resort....more later about a fun time with some of our favorite people!

Mt Dora Girl's Day

Mt. Dora's Octagon shaped Train Station

Tuesday Shirley and I took off early headed to the delightful little town of Mt. Dora....a sweet village perched above Lake Dora...think a sleepy little Bar Harbor full of huge live oaks, dripping with Spanish Moss, surrounding winter "cottages". There are many inviting Victorian era bungalows, cottages and mansions, along with the picturesqe train station, quaint restaurants, B&B's and eclectic shops.

The Gables....charming outdoor dining with a bit of a view of Lake Dora (we enjoyed a yummy lunch here)

A view from the street, overlooking Lake Dora

Donnelly House in Mt. Dora

Shirley had an appointment at Sole' Skin Care and Spa.....she had arranged for some of us to have "beautiful things" done there a few weeks ago, so the two of us treked back today to visit Janice and Jennifer, our new favorite "beautician magicians". These two gals are really up to date on skin care and all things to make you look better....I sure hope we do! At any rate, we've had a lot of fun doing it and visiting Mt. Dora! We strolled thru many of the shops and Shirley purchased some really lovely yarn at the Knitting Store...can't wait to see what she makes! Then it was lunch on the outdoor deck at The Gables restaurant, perched above Lake Dora. It was a picture perfect day in the seventies, with the sun shining in a cloudless blue the girls had a great day out in the fine little town of Mt. Dora!

We'll be leaving Florida Grande on Wednesday morning heading West.....I'm sure going to miss Shirley!

Monday, February 23, 2009

George and Charlotte go to the Bullfight!

Last week our good friends from Warsaw, George and Charlotte Jenkins, came down for a visit...... sure was great to see these guys and share some warm weather with them!!

We checked out the Webster Market and then spent some time visiting on the patio, when the bulls in the field behind us got a little testy....

all of the cows fled the field with their calves and left the bulls to "duke it out"... and they entertained us for close to an hour with some pretty intense bull fighting!

There were two sets of bulls, fighting first in pairs of two, then, "two-against-one"....they were fiesty and noisey....bellowing, charging and kicking up both the dust and their hooves!

Who knew our normally serene cow pasture would provide such exciting entertainment for us!!! We hope George and Charlotte enjoyed their ring side seat for the bullfight! We both enjoyed our time with them, and look forward to their next visit!
Hugs to everyone! :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mardi Gras at Florida Grande

Mardi Gras is a great reason for a parade and a we had both at Florida Grande on Saturday.....a mighty fine golf cart parade was escorted by our local Center Hill police force...... (click on any image for a larger view)

...the carts were sporting their finery .

Everyone donned their masks and beads to have a little fun!

Molly and Bob

Some guys were feeling frisky with a fresh head of "hair" complete with sporty visors....

but we all know it's just a fuzzy trend that's the rage here in old Florida!

George, Bob and Leylon are having way too much fun!

How do you like these shades????

And of course, our officer had to have some beads too......

Officer Barger, Sandy and Amy

What happens at Florida Grande....

STAYS at Florida Grande!!!

The Pooch Parade was a hoot!!!

The doggies strut their stuff!
Another fun evening......

complete with lots of food and the King Cake...
......who got the baby?
This is almost as much fun as the Fourth of July!!! :) Hugs!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Webster Flea and Produce Market

Each Monday the little town of Webster comes to life in a big way...with the huge Webster Flea Market, which is the center point of life here in this otherwise slumbering town.

We have been told that it is among the top three largest Markets in the nation, and we have no trouble believing is by a long shot, the largest flea market we have ever seen. On a 50 acre site, with over 1500 vendors, and being over 60 years old puts it "up there" in the hierarchy of flea markets for certain! At any rate, it's big, and we go most every week to buy our fresh fruits and veggies for a pittance, and we still have not seen more than half of the vendor offerings!

There is always an abundance of fresh produce, brought up from nearby Plant City, and it is downright cheap! To say that we are spoiled by the selection, quality and price of the goods would be an understatement....we will really miss all the fresh goodies we've been eating!

Especially the strawberries, which are in season from January until the end of February!

And the plentiful, cheap and oh-so-sweet oranges and Ruby Red Grapefruits!

The pineapples are yummy too, but we never buy the apples because we prefer the Virginia apples from home!

We've been eating strawberries every day, on our cereal, yogurt, in Strawberry Shortcake and on ice cream!!

I am constantly reminded how Mom loved her strawberries in January and February, when they were least plentiful and such a treat to eat.....and so we enjoy these truly sweet and succulent berries during the winter months!

And also many fresh salads and asparagus, squash, cabbage, blueberries and grapes...veggies almost like the markets in Rio where we shopped with Mary K...just more familiar to us!

Of course, fruits and veggies are only a tiny part of the flea market...they have every possible variety of "flea" imaginable (otherwise known as "junk"! :) )

The first week that we visited the market, while strolling down one of the "antique" (a.k.a. "old junk") aisles, I spotted a little Robin's Egg Blue stoneware pitcher just like Mom brewed her iced tea in for most of my life. Having only ever seen one other pitcher like it, I bought it from the vendor, came home and promptly made iced tea!

The much sought after little blue pitcher!

Fruit or treasures, you can choose your pleasure at the Webster Flea Market every Monday!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day at Sleepy Hollow

What a wonderful Valentine's Day!!! It was Shirley and C.M. Solomon's anniversary, and Shirley wanted to go to Sleepy Hollow, a local "biker bar" here on the Withlacootchie River......

So, with Shirley and Terry Stevens, leading the way, as our only "bikers", off we went to Inverness and a lovely Valentine's afternoon under the Live Oaks and Spanish Moss!
It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and we decided to give in to the smell of food on the grill as soon as we got there....
they cook a great steak over wood fires, along with baked potatoes and corn on the cob, for the outrageous price of $5.00!! And C.M. treated all of us to lunch, to celebrate his anniversary...thanks C.M and Shirley!!

Happy Anniversary to C.M. and Shirley... two great folks!!

Then there was lots of visiting with the "bikers", who by the way, are a very friendly lot!!
Shirley, Molly, Betty and Janice with a friendly biker
Here's Marty, a friendly fellow who caught our attention with his most unusual prosthetic... a piston head from a motorcycle engine! He is a most talented mechanic and a very clever guy, as he designed this "foot", with the blessing of his orthopedic doctor, after determining that the "foot" they had installed for his prosthetic was very unforgiving and not at all flexible. His balance is amazing and he is very sure-footed, after loosing his lower leg in a trike accident. He was most gracious to us, sharing his story and chatting with us at length, even though it was quite obvious that we were only biker "wanna-bee's"!

Marty, you are an inspiration for all of us!

Then the girls had to shop for "biker attire" at the leather vendors set up there......

Molly (above) and Carol (below) leather shopping (well, maybe not)!

And all the girls had to run their fingers thru C.M.'s "fuzzy hair", borrowed from Leylon!

Airboats are the boat of choice here on the rivers and lakes....we got to see them in action here at Sleepy Hollow.... it looks like a lot of fun, so we plan to take a ride on one very soon!

Sleepy Hollow is a well hidden jewel.... a sleepy little oasis under the oaks along the river....they keep the wood fired grills going, churning out tasty chow, and have a really good band playing lots of old Southern Rock and Beatles favorites.
And is this the most amazing fire pit??? with a ready-to-burn pile of firewood....what more could a happy camper want?

I just loved the sign on the "ladies room"....complete with visual sketches!!

No, we're not having a mid-life crisis, but we sure are having fun! Just don't be too surprised if you see Bob looking for a Harley one day soon!! :)

And, Kristy, this Valentine Biker day is for you, since I know you never thought you'd see us at a biker we know what fun we've been missing!

Happy Anniversary to Shirley and C.M., and thanks to Shirley and Terry for sharing Sleepy Hollow with us! Terry and Shirley, our "real" bikers!

Happy Valentine's Day and big hugs to all!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Uh Oh..another Birthday!

Yes, it was that time of year, when another anniversary of my 39th birthday rolls around!
Friends Paul and Connie Anderson prepared an Italian Feast and invited us up to share hospitality and my birthday! She made a wonderful Lasagna and Chicken Cacciatore........

Connie serves a scrumptious, huge Lasagne!

Ron, Bill and Leslie prepare to chow down!

And a wonderful Red Velvet Cake...

Molly and Marcia are chilling after Lasagne and Red Velvet Birthday Cake!

Paul and Connie recently bought a place in Ocala, so it was nice to visit with them, as well as Bill and Leslie, Ron and Linda, Bobbie and Jim, and Joe and Marcia. There's always a good time when we get together, and it was a wonderful birthday!

Arriving back at Florida Grande, there was another nice treat....Tiffany sent a beautiful boiled wool sweater from is soft and fluffy and warm!! Thank you, Tiff and Scott for the lovely sweater!!

The red fluffy sweater from Tiff

Looking forward to another year! Hugs and Happy Valentine's day to everyone!

We're headed to Sleepy Hollow, a Biker Bar here a short ride away, to celebrate Valentine's Day...should be a very fun day!