Giving Thanks – November Recap

Fair warning, this is going to be a long and photo-intensive post. I had planned to break it into two separate posts, but time got away from me and I didn’t pull it together in time. Personally, I think that is a good thing since getting caught up in living is generally healthier than having too much down-time to fill. It has been a good month and we have much to be thankful for.

November began with a weekend visit with my daughter in Miami. We did the usual girly things – shopping, a trip to the spa, and dinner at a great restaurant.

Every part of visiting with Morgan is a treat but making new ‘foodie’ discoveries is high on my list of favorite things. She made an early reservation (to avoid the ‘night crowd’) at Cote, a Korean steak house located in the Design District.

It was an honest-to-goodness ‘died and gone to foodie heaven’ meal for me and I can’t tell you how much I loved both the energy and food at this place. Or, maybe it was just good company…

I am Thankful for Mommy-Daughter Time

Continuing with the ‘foodie’ theme which seems to have dominated this month, Malcolm and I, along with two friends attended a Cooking Class at a local farm-to-table venue; Kai-Kai Farm. In addition to a full schedule of events, this is an actual working farm that supplies a variety of greens to local restaurants. We enjoyed an excellent meal served in an elegantly decorated open-air pavilion. We even got to take home copies of the Chef’s recipes and I will try to reproduce them as accurately as possible.

I am Thankful for good Friends and Shared Experiences

Malcolm and I finished the landscape redesign project that we started at my MIL’s house in October. Digging twenty-two holes through rock and roots wasn’t fun, but the results are satisfying. Our goal was to use low-maintenance plants that add a pop of color to the front of the house and still leave room for his mom to plant annuals in spring and fall should she want to. Mission accomplished!

I am Thankful for a Strong, Healthy Body

King tides occur when the orbits and alignment of the Earth, moon, and sun combine to produce the greatest tidal effects of the year. According to NOAA, this phenomenon happens about twice per year in the coastal US. Although it can be devastating for our coastline it is still a sight to behold. Conditions were perfect for King Tide in our area for several days at the beginning of November, so of course, Malcolm and I headed to the beach to watch the show.

Slide to compare Stylized version and Unedited version

I am Thankful for the Beauty and Power of Nature

Several weeks ago I planted a few herbs in a couple of pots, hoping to interest my MIL in taking on a small project. She has diligently watered and tended the herbs and they have flourished. We have taken frequent cuttings from the basil, rosemary, and parsley and they continue to be bountiful.

The orchid on the right has been blooming for weeks. We have several of them in pots on the patio. This one sits just outside the window where I have my morning coffee.

I Am Thankful for Gifts from the Earth

During the second week of November, the temperature dropped in South Florida, giving us our first real taste of Fall. It was just enough to inspire us to turn our thoughts to Christmas and decorating. We will be away for Thanksgiving, so why not get an early start.

On Sunday, a week before Thanksgiving, we pulled out some decorations and sorted the pieces of Nana’s Christmas Village. The village has been a part of her Christmas display for the past sixteen years. We have downsized it a bit this year, but it still looks beautiful.

I am Thankful for Cherished Traditions

In week three of November, we resurrected an old tradition and prepared a Thanksgiving feast just for the three of us. Since my MIL has decided to not travel with us to New England for the holiday, we pivoted and made a small celebration for her the week before we flew to Boston. Roast turkey, a few traditional side dishes, and a store-bought pumpkin pie made up the simple menu. It has been a very long while since we roasted a turkey, (see our break from tradition here) but sticking with the basics was key. Salt, pepper, slather the thing with butter, and roast in the oven at 325 for a few hours, done! It was a good-looking bird, but sadly, there are no pictures to prove it.

The perfect mix of homemade and semi-homemade dishes made preparations easy and the day felt leisurely, as it should. I used a recipe shared by Karen at Back Road Journal to make the delicious Corn Casserole pictured below. Karen is an amazing cook and I regularly use her recipes. This one is simple to make and a real crowd-pleaser. Do check out her blog when you get the time. This recipe is my contribution to What’s On Your Plate for November.

I am Thankful for Flexibility

The last week in November we flew to Boston, met up with the kids (who flew in from Miami), and drove out to Martha’s Vineyard for a much anticipated Thanksgiving holiday. You may recall that this destination is the third, yes third choice as we were originally scheduled to fly to London and drive to the Cotswolds for the holiday.

Several months ago, we got skittish about COVID requirements for traveling abroad and not wanting to get stuck, delayed, or otherwise inconvenienced, we decided to make a different arrangement. We then booked a house on Nantucket, and a little over a month ago, the owners canceled our reservation. The third time is a charm, as they say, and we ended up in a beautiful home on Martha’s Vineyard, minus Malcolm’s mom who decided to hang back in sunny Florida. We missed having her with us, but understand her reluctance to brave the chill…

We spent our time here cooking, playing board games, exploring the island, and just hanging out together in a beautiful space. Some days were sunny and mild and others gray and cold, but we loved them all. Many businesses closed earlier than usual this year due to worker shortages, but we had all we needed.

This photo of Morgan is my contribution to Terri’s Sunday Stills, but I think the entire post qualifies as ‘cozy.’ It has been that kind of month.

I am Thankful for Being in the Moment

Aquinnah Cliffs Overlook

For those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving this past week, we hope you took some time to reflect on all that is good in your life and that your homes were filled with joyful moments and family celebrations. Thanksgiving really is just a state of mind, and my state of mind is thankful every single day. Blessings to you and yours.

We will be back in Florida on Monday, rested and ready for the most wonderful time of the year to begin.

October Recap

We finished our month-long stay at the beach and returned to my MIL’s home on October 17th. Those last two weeks were filled with much the same activities as we had been enjoying; bike riding, golf, tennis, beach walks, and sunsets. It was a restful, reflective time and a great place to take a break.

Since returning home, we have been busy getting on with life as usual for this time of year and making/revising plans. Temperatures are beginning to drop and signs of Fall are in the air – just in time for Halloween.

Doing

Malcolm spent several hours taking down a Magnolia tree that was very close to the house and had a root system that consumed too much of the front planting area. We now have a clean slate in which to begin redesigning that space. That will happen next week.

I have been busy planning a Mahjongg Tournament for a group of sixteen. As one of three on the planning committee, my job is mostly logistics, rules, and organization. It suites me, as most of the work can be done on my computer. The lady in the middle handled the procurement, while the one on the right was responsible for decorations. It’s amazing that work doesn’t seem like work when you combine the right skill sets among friends. By all accounts, we threw a good party and that’s what matters most – friends having fun!

Cooking

I contributed a platter of Honey Chicken to our Chinese-themed Mahjongg party buffet. It is a simple dish to make but can get a bit messy. If you don’t like frying, this dish is not for you.

Chicken

  • 3 large chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs, cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • vegetable oil (about 2″-3″ of oil in a skillet pan with sides)

Mix dry ingredients (flour and seasonings) together in a container. Pour milk into another container alongside. Dip chicken pieces into flour, then milk, then back to flour. Drop pieces into hot oil and cook until golden. Rest on paper towels to drain excess oil. Do this in batches, until all pieces are cooked. Place cooked chicken onto a serving platter and make the honey sauce.

Honey Sauce

  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water (add more if needed to thin)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of red pepper flakes 
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water

Mix together the first six ingredients and pour them into a saucepan over medium heat. Stir the cornstarch and water together and slowly add to the bubbling mixture. Simmer for about five minutes. The honey sauce should be thick enough to stick to the chicken, but if it gets too thick, just add a little water. Remove from heat and drizzle over chicken, tossing lightly to coat. Sprinkle with chives, chopped green onions, or toasted sesame seeds and serve. Pair this with white rice or vegetable fried rice for a complete meal.

Inspired by What’s On Your Plate

Reading

Lately, I have been relying on book recommendations from bloggers who host a monthly post titled, ‘What’s on Your Book Shelf’. You can find the cohosts Donna, Sue, Deb, and Jo by clicking their links. I selected several titles from each of their suggestions this past month, but the one I want to share came from Natalie the Explorer. One of her recommendations stood out for me as being something I might not have selected, if not for her recommendation. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth, by Matson Taylor.

Evie is a sixteen-year-old girl and much of the book is narrated in her voice, which is decidedly precocious. She sets the tone on the first page with the following self-description; “A dog-loving, celery-hating, never annoying, always enjoying, at times corduroying, (brackets-deploying), daughter of Arthur and the fastest girl with a milk bottle in East Yorkshire.” It is 1962 and everyone has a plan for Evie’s life, except Evie.

This coming-of-age story moves along as fast as Evie in Arthur’s MG roadster, and at times with the same recklessness. Evie is determined (by whatever means) to help Arthur see the error of his ways as he plans to marry Christine, ‘that scarlet woman’ as Evie refers to her. We find out quickly that Evie isn’t alone in her quest and is surrounded by a strong supporting cast that includes her dead mother.

Experimenting

Beginning this month and continuing through the holidays, Malcolm and I are introducing ‘What’s In Your Glass.’ Sometimes that might be an appetizer or a delicious dessert, but more than likely it will be a tasty cocktail that represents the festivities of the season.

This month we have selected two cocktails, both of which remind us of Fall and the first holiday of the season, Halloween. Treats aren’t just for kids!

On the left is our Apple Cider Martini. It is made with 2 ounces rum (light or dark), 3 ounces apple cider, and a teaspoon of honey. Add ice and the three ingredients to a martini shaker. Shake and pour. Garnish the drink with a slice of dried apple. The middle drink is a straight shot of Bourbon and embodies the rich golden color of Fall.

The drink on the right is an Empress and tonic. Empress Gin has a rich purple color and purple represents the magic and delight of Halloween. To make this drink, pour 2 ounces Empress Gin, and 4 ounces quality tonic, over ice. We used a mold to make a single block of ice in a round shape. Using a single piece of ice maintains the flavor of the drink for a longer period of time. Float a slice of pink grapefruit for additional color and sweetness.

If you have a favorite cocktail or something special that you like to serve in a glass, please tell us about it in the comments. Also, if you write about it on your blog, please feel free to share a link to your post which includes the recipe and photos.

Introducing

We passed on our love of travel to our daughter Morgan and couldn’t be happier that even with a full-time, very demanding job, she still takes every available opportunity to have an adventure. She has become so adept at planning (the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, (Malcolm), that friends, family, and coworkers regularly ask her for guidance and recommendations. So much so that she has decided to create a blog to share her itineraries.

Morgan’s style is luxury with a side dish of frugality, as she uses all the tricks to obtain lower rates for hotels and flights. She is intending to monetize her blog at some point but to do that, she needs page views (aka traffic). And that is where you all come in.

I hope you will take some time to visit a few of her posts which will tick her numbers up to an acceptable range (more views = ad attention). At the very least you will be entertained by her beautiful photography (I’ll take credit for that) and at most, you may discover a destination that piques your interest.

Visit The Weekend Hedonist here

That’s a wrap for October. What’s happening in your corner of the world?

Exploring Island Life

Ahhhh……

We are now on island time.

The destination is a familiar place. In fact, we fell in love with Hutchinson Island in the early nineties when our family spent time here during several consecutive summers. It was a great place to host ‘mommy camp’ as our daughter called it and we all have fond memories of enjoying family time and simple pleasures here.

Our positive memories of this place, all those summers ago, was one of the many reasons we moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Martin County prior to our early retirement in 2006. Our recently sold home (of twenty years) is a half hour from this island and Malcolm and I have come here often throughout the years.

My favorite beach, which is just behind the House of Refuge Museum is a bike ride away from our little bungalow and our favorite place to watch a sunset on the river is here too. People come here to relax and enjoy pleasant surroundings. We will be doing that too, but mostly we will be experimenting with change.

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Little Milestones – August Recap

We just passed the one month mark of our transition to being home free. The first three weeks were filled with ‘fix it’ projects and acclimating to our new living arrangement with my MIL. Both of us have had a moment of ‘I miss this or that’, about the old house, but mostly we are adjusting. This past week we began to restore balance to our lives and find our way back to a normal routine. It feels good.

Around the House

During the past three weeks, Malcolm has replaced the kitchen faucet, replaced both drains and a garbage disposal in the dual sinks, replaced the door handles on both the front and back doors, added a French drain to the downspout from the gutters, changed out the florescent lights in the garage to LED, and repaired two broken cabinet doors in the bathroom. The garage is an on-going project, but we almost have room for one car!

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Boomerang Kids

It has been nearly three weeks since we moved into Malcolm’s mom’s home, and almost every waking hour of that time has been spent creating a new normal. We are making progress but adjustments, like the three of us are making, require compromise, patience and time.

When we considered a ‘shared residence’ with Malcolm’s mom we were prepared for the physical adjustment of living in a smaller space and the changes that would follow. We strongly considered the disruption to her life but felt that the eventual upside would make it worthwhile. What we underestimated was the level of anxiety that the initial upheaval would create.

At ninety-one, she is a highly functioning, mostly independent individual who has created a comfortable space for herself within very small boundaries. We have interacted frequently in the past and have noticed normal signs of aging , but nothing alarming. What has surprised us lately is how much of her confidence and sense of security is tied to her environment. Our challenge has been to mitigate her confusion and allay her fears by tuning in to her tolerance levels and communicating changes carefully.

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