Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What's going on in Florida Today .....The Florida Primary

Flying over the Bay in St. Petersburg.
What;s the news today in Florida....the Florida primary of course.....Political enthusiasts will be glue to the telly tonight  to watch the goings on.  Although it's not about Obama right now, we walked by the Obama office here on Central Avenue and picked up an Obama 2012 sign.  I wanted one of those 4 years back, but better late than never.  We are all a bit vague on American politics so we are have a pizza night around the telly to get the gist of what's going on.

Other than a few banners it's quiet around town.  We went to the Orange Grove Winery in Pasadena today. We had a nice tour and then a sampling.....All the wine here is made from fruit/veg other than grapes....such as bananas, mangos, carrots and tomato......now I am no wine buff......but.....but .....umm......hmmm.

A long stroll around the Bay in gorgeous sunshine...........when it's snowing at home you soak up the rays and appreciate every minute.  We look every time we are walking for manatees....but no luck.  We are also on the lookout for alligators...Will keep you posted on that one.

In the market there is always a cast of characters.... buckneers....

And something I have never seen in Canada.....dogs in strollers.....yep LOADS of people take their dogs out in strollers.....

With bows of course......
And this woman....I love this lady...she's there every week partying it up with the band...God love her.

Artists at work....

And my new favourite Jerk Chicken.....Jerk anything really.......except JERKS.

At least they are honest.......


This gorgeous glass sculpture is right outside the Dale Chuhuly gallery.

Loving this bug....
The best hotel in St. Petersburg Florida....The Vinoy.

I took my "7 minutes" (what the Sister at the church said to take every morning to start your day right).

I sat in my jammies outside with my coffee and camera and fed my blue jays peanuts. They are going to miss me when I leave next week.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ringing the Bell

Here I am in the South again (business), joined by DIL and her mum. Yesterday, being Sunday, we wanted to find a church service to attend. On the advice of a taxi driver the night before we showed up at the Bethel AME church. Welcomed by the pastor outside, we headed in and discovered immediately that AME stood for African Methodist Episcopal. We were the only white people in the entire church.  Which, coming from the melting pot of culture that is Canada, was a bit of a surprise to us. But here in the South, things are different. We've noticed that there are still clear divides in town with regards to neighborhoods, even bars and restaurants. So I was a bit worried that we wouldn't be truly welcomed here in this church. I couldn't have been more wrong.

The first thing we noticed was how fancy everyone was. Ladies, mostly dressed in white, with pretty hats, and big jewelry, children in their Sunday best, gentleman in suits and ties. At home people are getting a bit slack in the church attire department and jeans are a common site. What ensued was a three hour, YES 3 HOURS of praising and singing and shouting out, dancing, swaying, drums, guitar, the most amazing singing, and speakers that were so powerful and had so much passion and such amazing messages People in the congregation were moved to shout and praise and nod in agreement.  It was contagious. We as the "Sisters from Montreal" were mentioned 4 times during the service.  We linked hands, watched 2 baptisms, listened as the Pastor broke out in song, watched the elderly ladies dancing and being honored at the front of the church.  I was so moved I had goosebumps. 3 hours seemed like 30 minutes.  I have NEVER felt such passion in a church EVER. And I am the great grand daughter of a Church of England Minister.

After the service the Pastor walked through his packed congregation and headed straight for us and told us that when we were back in town, this was our Church. I felt completely at home here, I would definitely go back. I was educated and enlightened in many ways. We had a lot of discussion after as to whether we are truly welcome or if they would prefer we went to church in a different neighborhood. What do you think. If a Church is African American should white people go? I don't want to be disrespectful at all to the Pastor or Congregation and I would really love to go back. 

One of the speakers at the Church was Barbara Williams.  She talked at length about the value of a day.  At 12:01 am you have the gift of a new day.  The previous day is now gone and either wasted it or made the best of it. This hit home to me in many ways....her message made an impact.

That evening we walked for an hour on the beach towards "The Pink Hotel....the Don Cesar pictured in my first photo. We returned to the beach hut snack bar where a band played as the sun went down and people gathered on the boardwalk to watch the sun dip behind the ocean. And when it was done, they rang the big brass bell....a tradition at Passe A Grille Beach.  That was a perfect way to put emphasis on what Barbara Williams had talked about that morning.  A day ended.....and it was marked with the ringing of the bell.

Truly a Spiritual Sunday.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Newest Favorite

I wanted to you see the colour so I painted lips with the Lip Tint.
I am totally not a lipstick person....if I had gorgeous full lips like Angie I would happily slap it on...but I don't....and I'm 50, and a woman has to be careful about her lips when she's 50. Nothing worse than bleeding lipstick.  I don't like bare lips so I am always trying tinted lip products like Burt's Bee's, Covergirl outlast stain and the likes.   I recently found Bene Tint by Benefit.....a bottle of gorgeous red dye that you paint on your lips.  It comes in a bottle like nail polish with a soft little brush.  I applied it and really liked it, noticing the likeness to food coloring in general and Cochineal in particular. My Granny never used Red Dye #2, but always had a little bottle of Cochineal in her pantry. After wearing it everyday for weeks, I decided to check the ingredients...water, rosewater, carmine and quaternium-15 (a preservative) . Carmine is a form of Cochineal.  So there you go. After hundreds of years woman are still prettying themselves up with Beetle paint! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

3 Ways to Gift Wrap Caramels

Now that my caramels are all made, (see THIS POST) I've been packaging them for gifting.  I picked up 3 different kinds of packaging to see which worked best.  I prefer to recycle wrappings, however with food items you need something fresh and new unless you have tins or jars around the house. 

The first one is a take off of a Chinese Take Away box......do you notice on TV, Chinese food always comes in these cute little boxes with the metal handles, but in reality it comes in foil pans, floppy boxes or plastic containers?  It looks so much more authentic in the movies.  I found these at Solutions....a large chain of organizing solutions, but you could find similar at a craft store. 

I filled the bottom with some bits from my paper shredder (OK because the candies are wrapped), then tossed in a dozen caramels. Topped off with an orange polka dot grosgrain ribbon. This box was 99 cents.

Next is the corrugated cardboard box with window.  Again I filled the bottom with shredded paper and tossed the caramels on top.  Same ribbon. This package was $1.25. 

And my last try was a simple jar with a clamping top.  Simple and re-useable. This was the more expensive packaging at $3.49 each.

I wrapped the ribbon through the metal band which kept it nicely in place.

A double batch made enough for 5 presents....They keep fresh for a long time so I can keep these in my cupboard ready for birthdays, thank yous or other celebrations.

Each gift is about $4.00 to make. So with an inexpensive package you're looking at about 5 bucks.......

Friday, January 20, 2012

Homemade Caramels

I recently came across a great recipe HERE for homemade caramels. 

I had tried the Barefoot Contessa recipe for Salted Caramels at Christmas,  and although they tasted great, I think I didn't cook them enough and it was soft....really soft.  Impossible to cut and roll into pieces. And I also realized that even though it's a big trendy thing right now, I really don't like salt on my caramels

So yesterday I came upon another recipe and decided to give this a try.  It worked beautifully. The Caramels are very soft, easy to chew, maybe could be a little firmer, so next time I will cook a bit longer. 

Sliced into Bite Sized squares.

Simple wrappings.
Poured into a parchment lined pan. The cut edge is from the endless samplings.
All you need is condensed milk,butter, brown sugar, vanilla and corn syrup. A candy thermometer (I used by digital turkey thermometer) is a must and a large saucepan and cookie sheet or 9 x 9 brownie pan.  I doubled the recipe because I have a few birthdays coming up so I used the cookie sheet.  This recipe is super easy, but I really wouldn't let kids do it as the boiling caramel makes for serious burns if there is a mishap.....don;t even stick your finger in to try it.

After it was cooled, I cut it into bite sized squares using a sharp knife.  I cut several rows at one time, however I found it was easier to cut one row at a time because when you slice the second row, it slightly pushes the caramel into the previous row and you need to slice it again to get a clean edge.

After they were all sliced I wrapped them in pieces of parchment paper and twisted the ends shut.
Old fashioned and very delicious.

Toss them into a bowl and you could throw these on the table for desert along with some fresh fruit and cheese.

This wonderful recipe is from the most delightful Web site called GiversLog.com.  AmberLee creates the most amazing gifts, flood and fun mailers.  Take a look here www.giverslog.com if you wish to make them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kicking January's Butt

As soon as January arrives and the Christmas trees and garlands are tossed to the curb, the house takes on a vacant appearance.  Dim Winter light and short days rob the house of personality and vigor. Or is it me who loses my enthusiasm?

FOSTER PARENT.....I've been mourning the dogs again...strongly feeling the void of them not being with us. They forced us out into the Winter with such pep and joy, no matter what the day was like.  Constant companions and company for me who works from home.  Someone to lunch with.  I've been scanning the lab rescue site and completed an application to become a Foster dog parent.  Because we travel a lot, we can't own a dog, but a happy home and loving care for a few weeks may be just the thing. So please Lab Rescue....bring me a dog this January.....

Until then, I've been shuffling my bits, trying to bring my favourite colours like pink and plum and rhubarb into the house.  Other months, I can live with neutrals and whites, but Canada demands some rich colours at this time of year. I moved some books and discovered pretty covers, brought out my sock wool....perhaps I shall attempt a pair...or a scarf. 

And I've been tempted by the Valentines Candies lining the grocery store aisles since Boxing Day, competing with the Quality Street and Black Magic leftovers. An old sugar bowl filled with hot pink kisses adds a little zip to the coffee table.

There was actually a glimmer of sunshine this morning than shone briefly on my coffee table and perked up the bunch of sweetheart roses I purchased for myself. Most months I can pick from the garden some sort of bouquet, but January forces my hand to buy fresh flowers.

Tonight I am swimming at my friends indoor pool at her condo...a first attempt since I wrecked my knee in November paddle boarding.  Followed by a hot tub and sauna and of course long conversation with the girls. One has to work through January I think....a tough month in the Northern Hemisphere. It needs a firm hand.