Exploring PHCC Campus

Today while Bleys was at school, I wandered around campus taking pictures. I wanted to be able to identify the different kinds of turtles in the pond there. When I peeked over the railing, here’s what I found!!


He’s a little alligator, maybe three feet long. He was swimming around with the turtles and when the turtles would push him around, he snapped at them. I look forward to seeing him when I go there. I accompany Bleys because he still has only his permit – hopefully he’ll get his license soon!

Today’s trip netted two new marks in the wildlife book – I saw a small flock of female Hooded Mergansers and identified four different kinds of turtles in the pond, only one of which was in the book and hadn’t been marked before… Florida Soft-shelled Turtle, Florida Red-Bellied Turtle (new), Peninsula Cooter, and Red-Eared Slider (new but not in the book). I also found a really cool document that helps you identify water turtles based on head shape and markings (pdf).

Skull Gate

A while back we went down to St. Petersburg and visited Haslam’s Book Store, where I bought a big stack of 10-cent books. One of them is called “Skull Gate” by Robin W. Bailey, and it’s really good so far – I’m about halfway through in just a few days. The problem was, they put a big X on the cover with marker, and it was coming off on my fingertips. Luckily Trav knew just how to solve it… with a bit of rubbing alcohol it came right off. Thanks, dear!

I definitely want to keep this book to read again. It’s about a female mercenary in a magical world where she has to save the princess, and dark enough to make you wonder if the princess will survive or not. We shall see.

First Weekly Menu of the Year!

Wow, this week is filled with soup because it’s been really, really cold. We had a hard freeze last night – it got down to 27 degrees. I hope our lone pineapple is OK! I haven’t looked yet because everything will be covered until tomorrow, when it starts to warm back up again.

Anyways, here’s our list for the week:

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2008! Along with the new year comes a new design for our web site…


The redesign has been in the works for quite some time, and since I told my brother it would be up by the end of the year, it is! And thanks for the suggestions – I know they’ll make a difference. Feel free to leave comments here or there…. I’m happy to get feedback!

I’ve made just a couple of resolutions this year… the keep the house cleaner (by doing lots more little cleanups) and to get back on an exercise program. We do take a walk every morning with Sadie, but I need some resistance training added to the works… apparently that can make a big difference in your health, especially guarding against osteoporosis. Now that I’m done stuffing my face with all of the delicious holiday cookies, candy and pie, I’m ready to make improvements. How about you – any resolutions for 2008?

My Next Job

Maybe my next job will be to make and sell stepping stones. There are so many interesting designs! One of my favorites is the sand dollar. Wouldn’t those be cool to have in the yard of your beach house? Oh, I suppose I’ll need one of those, too… to go with the stepping stones.  Except, if I have a beach house, I don’t know how I could ever get any work done, at least for the first few years of liiving there. I would sure like to try, though! 😀

Wish You Were Here

Trav found this really cool program for me – it’s called TuxGuitar. You can load in a guitar tab and it will play the song and show exactly where your fingers go, what strings to pluck and the music, all at once. Way cool! I found and downloaded the tab for one of my favorite songs of all time – Wish You Were Here, by Pink Floyd. It’s the first song I’m going to learn on my guitar!! Perhaps when I learn it, I’ll post a video, bad singing and all. :>

Park Cleanup

Today, with my nifty new grabby thing, we got to pick up a whole grocery bag’s worth of trash from our walking route in the park! I was thrilled. What a great way to directly help the environment. Thanks, Bleys, for the gift! And thanks, eagle-eye Trav, for spotting the trash, helping to pick up and showing me how to use it better. I’ve never been so happy picking up trash!! 😀

Merry Christmas!!

What a wonderful day. We went over to Gramma’s house and ate waaaaaay too much delicious food and shared good company. This was the year of the kitchen gadget for my family, and the year of the tie-dye t-shirt for Trav’s family and our friends. Hopefully everybody enjoyed their gifts as much as we enjoyed ours!! Right now we’re listening to Trav’s collection of John Volby and other assorted funny Christmas songs.

I took lots of pictures today, too. Here’s a self-portrait… it turns out I love the camera so much I have a hard time giving it up, so I don’t get to be in many pictures. I think I can learn to take more like this one, but with me and whoever else in it.

Emmy Christmas 2007 Self-Portrait

Oh, and did anybody notice… I put the wrong freakin’ year in all but one of the Christmas cards I did this year. For some reason, I’ve been in a time warp for the last few months, putting 2008 on everything. I guess that’ll work out well pretty soon – I’m used to the new year already! 🙂

Lamburgers and Curried Rice

MmmMmMMMMMmm!! Last night we had the Spicy Lamburgers and they were delicious. We all agreed to rate it a 5 on Allrecipes, because we would be satisfied if we got it in a restaurant. And for breakfast this morning, we had Curried Rice Pilaf, and everybody liked it! Definitely a keeper recipe to go into the book. Thanks, Mom!

Oh and speaking of restaurants… it turns out Taco Bell is not intended to be Mexican food (like we all didn’t know that already, hah!).

Weekly Menu – 12/18/07

We have at least one new recipe to try out this week… yummy! Plus I’ll be making the macaroons for a treat.

  • Lamburgers
  • Steak Marsala
  • Skillet Lasagna Florentine
  • Pizza with Pepperoni, Mushrooms and Onion
  • Japanese Stir Fry
  • Mixed Greens Salad with Italian Herb-Crusted Chicken
  • Chicken & Shrimp Fried Rice

Cherry Almond Macaroons

Mmmmmmm, I found what looks like a really good cookie in Aunt Susie’s “Cooky” recipe book (I think my parents have this book, too). Hopefully I can try them soon. Of course, it being so close to Christmas, we have a ton of treats in the house. But these don’t have any flour in them and almonds are good for you. Plus I’ll use either fresh or dried cherries with no added sugar. The recipe calls for blanched almonds but I’m not going to do that because the skin is good for you and nobody but me really cares about how the cookie looks, as long as it tastes good! Here’s the recipe:

Cherry Almond Macaroons

5 oz. slivered almonds (blanched, if preferred; about 1 1/4 cups)
3/4 C. sugar
3 egg whites
1/4 C. chopped maraschino cherries (or fresh or dried?)

Grind dry, crisp almonds through finest blade of food grinder/processor. Mix nuts, sugar and egg whites in sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 8-10 minutes or until a path stays clean when spoon is drawn through. Remove from heat, stir in cherries. Drop level teaspoonsful of dough on 2 greased and lightly floured baking sheets. Let stand at room temperature until cool (this insures rounded macaroons).

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Bake about 20 minutes or until delicately golden on exterior but soft and moist inside. Remove from sheets immediately. Makes 2 dozen.

Interesting Weather

Last night we got 4 inches of rain! It was an amazing storm… woke me up a couple of times. An EF-1 tornado touched down about 10 miles south of us but it only did a little damage (a couple of overturned cars and a flimsy structure destroyed at the county jail). The water was running so hard it washed our neighbor’s phone book into the middle of the road in front of our house. It made for a nice walk this morning, with everything all washed and clean. We really needed the rain, it had been months.

My colleague up in Canada has been having quite the winter. She lives waaaay up there, though, where I suppose you would expect such conditions. After seeing her pics, I’m glad to be in Florida! As my dad says, “You don’t have to shovel sunshine!” 😀

Soapberry – Saponinlicious

I truly believe we are making ourselves sick by producing unnatural products… we’re poisoning our environment. I wonder how many kids have autism or something like that because of the amount of lead in our lives? It seems every day there’s a new story about lead or some other terrible thing in this or that product. How many of us have Christmas lights from who knows when that are full of it? I read the other day that you should wash your hands after handling strings of lights because lead will get on them from touching the lights. Aieeee!!!

Anyways, this rambling was due to seeing an article about Soapberry – I want to try this on my clothes:

Laundry soap grows on trees

I’ll let you know how it is if I try it. I hope I get a seed!

I Vant to Suck Your… Electricity!

Today I stumbled upon a very interesting site which takes the numbers of our society and puts them into graphs and such. I was amazed to find that you can spend $160 a year just plugging in a plasma TV. Ouch!

Vampire Energy

There’s a lot of good stuff on that site, too. I have to be careful not to spend too much time surfing around there… fascinating! … Bah! Another 15 minutes gone when I went back to close the original window and got distracted by some links. 🙂

Daytona Trip

Today we went over to New Smyrna Beach to visit Trav’s grandparents. We had a very fun day! We arrived around 11am and ate snacks. Then we went to the beach, because we wanted to see the shuttle take off (it was canceled, though). After spending a couple of hours collecting shells, we went back to their house for a delicious dinner of roast, mashed potatoes and all the fixins. Here are a couple of pictures – the second one being a Portuguese Man o’ War that washed up on the beach!

Daytona Trip


Man o’ War

Eating Well is Expensive

The cost of food is a frequent topic in our house. It’s our biggest single expense – we spend even more on it than our house payment. Geesh! But we try to eat well, preparing almost all of our meals from scratch, with very little processed food. Today I found an article which cites a recent study that found it’s a lot more expensive to eat a healthy diet:

New York Times: The High Price of Healthy Food

We often wonder how it is that processed, crappy food can be so much cheaper. They had to do a lot to the ingredients to make it, so how can it cost so little? It doesn’t make sense. Is it government subsidies at work? If so, why aren’t we subsidizing the small farmers who bring us fresh produce? Our food system is terribly backwards… I wonder how we can fix it. I suppose it’s up to consumers, but can people afford to vote with their wallets, without going hungry?

Updated Holiday Page

Thanks to Jeannie, I updated my Christmas wish list, so if you’re looking for that “perfect gift”, you can find it there. Maybe next year there won’t be any “stuff’ on the list… only things that would be very personal and meaningful… hmm!

Mama’s Tuscan Spinach Rice Soup

We tried out this new soup recipe on Sunday. We’ll keep it, but it’s not so delicious that it will be added to the regular rotation. It’s one of those “it’s good once in a while” recipes. I thought it tasted like something out of a can, but Bleys said it was much better after adding salt, pepper and a little garlic. We’ll try spicing it up a little more next time. I wish when a recipe says “pepper to taste” they would give some kind of starting point… are we talking a teaspoon, tablespoon, or … ? I’m never quite sure.

I like to make new dishes strictly by the recipe for the first time, so we can tell if it’s good as is, has potential, or just isn’t good. It drives me insane on AllRecipes, when people do a review and they say something like, “I substituted this, and added that, and did this differently, and I didn’t like this recipe.” Well DUH!! If you followed the recipe maybe it would have turned out better.

With this recipe, I was wondering about how the rice was going to affect the soup part. On the rice package, it calls for 1 cup of rice and 3 cups of broth. The soup recipe had 3/4 cup of rice and 6 cups of broth, so I was wondering if the rice was going to suck up half of the broth… and it did! Maybe risotto rice and arborio rice are two different things? I used risotto rice. The next day, there was no broth left, it was just chunky veggies and fat rice. Still tasted good, though.

So I’m now looking for the next great adventure food. Any suggestions? 🙂