2020 - Our Year in Review
(Note: our pages are in reverse chronological order with the most current news first)
It was a very quiet Christmas and New Years. We had some medical issues to deal with over the holiday season so we hung-out close to
home and got those taken care of satisfactorily.

We are both amusing ourselves in various ways; Ed likes to get his daily walk in, and then either go kayaking or exercise in the Florida
Room using stretch bands, free weights, his rowing machine and floor mat.  I'm so much lazier.  I stay pretty busy with my daily household
chores, my art projects and my food endeavours.  With my bad feet I have had to abandon my daily walks - which I hate.  For years it had
been my favorite means to get my cardio and enjoy the flowers, sunshine and all that. Oh well, I'll keep trying.

We have had some really stunning sunrises and pretty weather throughout Dec - Feb.
Recap: Dec '19 - March, 2020
A few assorted Christmas pieces to warm up my stained glass skills before tackling a bigger project.
Some sunrises are quite orange and others have a much cooler look. I got lucky on Valentine's Day (and on my wedding day!)
Wanted to show the process of inspiration, design conception and execution for this 8 panel glass lantern project I'm working on.  Top left
shot shows the lantern and the pattern with a few glass pieces. Next shot has a better shot of the pattern plus the cut,  fitted and foiled glass
ready to be soldered, patina'd, polished and installed in the fixture.  Center bottom and center right show the completed "dragonfly' pair
plus the pair of "agates in blue". Quite a lengthy process but I love it! It's neat to also include glass marbles, agate slices, seashells etc.
Well, here we all are on self-imposed lock down and social distancing (bet we're all getting tired of those phrases).  Anyhow, it needs to be
done and we're just fortunate that we are retired and don't have a job to go to or to worry about.  We started using instacart for our groceries
since we're both over 65.  We also have been using Amazon & Walmart online shopping a bit more than usual , especially in the days leading
up to this period of seclusion.

The order of the day is to stay productive, try to keep upbeat or at least not out of our minds with worry for our families, neighbors, country  
and world, and to stay busy.  To that end I have been pulling my silk flowers out of the closet and doing a little arranging, hanging out on the
computer, re-reading some of my favorite authors (Deborah Harkness, Lois McMaster Bujold and Katharine Kerr to name a few), continuing
with my stained glass lantern project and making nice, tasty meals for distraction. I've been reading other people's blogs (mostly our old
friends, but also some friends of friends) and appreciate their dedication to daily or near daily posting. It provides us with a newsy update of
their doings, and a peek into their daily lives.  A lot of our boating buddies gave up their blog once they became landlubbers. That is a shame,
as we're still very interested in what they are up to and how they're doing. Thanks to those who've continued posting.
January - April, 2020
Getting started on the 3rd set of panels for the lantern, Today I finished up the bottom pane and I have the top pane about 50% finished.  
A couple of my neighbors make these
Be Kind plaques - something we all need to remember to do. Middle shot behind the far tree trunk,
shows where Ed just installed his air chair which hangs from the deck in a nice shady spot. (Not in this pic) Another great sky shot, and
finally a "keep your distance" dock party, where we took our drinks down to the docks and shouted HELLO to the neighbors.  It was fun,
and we even had a couple of mariners come floating by.
Left, a couple of smallish spring arrangements to hang on a trellis out back, in the middle, my "precious" (computer), and a shot showing
the 2 finished lantern sides all lit up - YAY, pretty happy about how they turned out. 2 more sides to go!
While we continue to be homebound, our activities run the gamut from lazing about, watching TV & and listening to music, doing our
household chores to creative endeavours, fun cooking and pleasure reading.  One of our neighbors found a local blueberry cultivator and
scored us 5 lbs of berries. She praised them for being very flavorful and sweet this year so I was excited to get them.  I used to  "u-pick-um"
years ago but not anymore.  So we gave some away to a few of our other neighbors, then made a couple of pumpkin-blueberry loafs. Also
made some jam using blueberries, a navel orange for juice and zest, coriander, cinnamon, sugar and a wee dram of dark rum.  Turned out
great.  Below left is a pic of the cobbler I made from the remains of the blueberry jam. Center and right are pics of the bread pudding I made
using the remains of the pumpkin-berry loaf, pecans & "plumped" raisins and a box of flan - yummy.
April - May, 2020
Another finished project is the stained glass 8 panel lantern, Wow, that was fun and challenging, also the biggest project I've done.  Here are a
couple of shots of the various side angles.
Left, the finished 4th side, then center is a shot of sides 1 & 2 and right, sides 3 & 4. Ed will modify it to hang as a plug-in swag light.
Adventures in cooking this month had me making a chicken pot pie for the first time in many years.  It came out really fantastic, and it
went into the freezer and reheated just perfectly.  

Another time consuming, but oh so delectable project was the breakfast cornbread strata. It starts with a layer of cornbread, followed
by fried sausage crumbles, then shredded pepper jack cheese.  Next is the veggie layer made with  mushrooms, celery, onion, fresh
asparagus, grape tomatoes and lots of cheese.  Finally, the remaining cornbread crumbles and more cheese, cheddar this time, plus
the egg/milk mixture.  It will rest overnight in the fridge, then warm on the countertop for 20 min's and bake @350 for 55 minutes or so.  
It also freezes and reheats just great making it a quick, easy and delicious breakfast for those lazy mornings.  I have a favorite
gluten-free neighbor that will be gifted a portion for their enjoyment.
Here we still stay, in our North Florida home, whiling away the hours/days/weeks doing projects, working puzzles, eating out on our back
deck and of course, cooking and eating (2 of my favorite things).   Not much else of interest other than that I'm afraid.

Eating breakfast out back is a real treat, and one that we enjoy during the spring and early summer.  Soon it will be too hot to venture out
even at 8am.  Ed usually gets things all set up out back while I finish up in the kitchen.    As far as puzzles go, I enjoy the smaller 300 - 500
piece puzzles as they are quicker to finish and that lets me change focus to other craft projects sooner.
May, 2020
Left, a shot of the sitting room off the master bedroom getting some much needed cosmetic help with some drywall patch-up (thanks
honey!) and some fresh paint.  I love painting for the instant gratification factor.  Color change from warm eggshell color to cool "mint hint"
green. Also, a couple of small stained glass pieces for out front;  a "be kind" style heart, and a house number to go above the garage door.
Still in our North Florida home, whiling away the hours/days/weeks, and from the look of things we might not make it out west
this season ---- but we'll see.  

The only thing of note since the last update was a cool flyover by the Blue Angels last month.  Our neighbor Ralph took this
shot and was kind enough to let me share it with y'all.

The shot on the right is really a
LINK to a youtube video slideshow I put together from some highlights of our big trip out west
in 2016 where we traveled and camped throughout Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Montana, with a side trip through Glacier Natl
Park.  Such a great trip it was.  The video is a fun 5 minute tour with some nice music - hope you enjoy.
June, 2020
Video tour out west - click pic to watch ME
I've been trying to get out more for some walks in the morning before the sun gets fully up and I'm finding the sights around our
neighborhood to be quite rewarding.  I though I'd include a few shots, mostly the lush floral stuff growing so well with all the rain
we've had.  Our lake level is back up to normal after falling 1.5 ft back in May.
July, 2020
I just freshened-up our service door basket and swapped out my spring blooms for a riot of summer colors. I love the patriotic
nature of our neighborhood - lots of retired Navy folks, so not only a lot of "neat and tidy" going on but also various flags
honoring our country, our service vets and our police officers.
If it were fully sun-up these flowers and
flowering shrubs would be glowing and
gorgeous, hopefully you can use your
imagination.  Not sure what this flower
above is but the "double" bloom was WOW!

Far left, every July our palm trees get their
annual haircut, not only gets rid of the
bothersome seed pods, which leave black
seeds on the driveway and drive Ed
bonkers, but leaves them looking neat and
tidy for quite a while.
I had my share of fun in the kitchen this month too, first by reaping the rewards of the chicken pot pie I made/froze last month, then by
getting the enchilada factory going (more goodies for the freezer).
After and lengthy and fun call with my sister, during which she got my black-eyed peas juices flowing, I had to do it; chopped carrots,
onions and ham saute'd, add the peas, some chicken stock and a skosh (scant 1/2 of the envelope) of onion soup mix for flavoring and
you've got it.  Served with fried ham and fresh cornbread - can you say "YUM!"
And finally, a fun little glass project & gift from the heart for my sister.
It's been more of the same around here.  Home improvement projects, puzzles, crafts, exercise, walking, and of course, cooking.
It's been blazing hot here in Florida with a fair share of rain most afternoons.  I've finally started doing a bit of shopping- hitting the
stores super early, mask, hand sanitizer or gloves, and getting in and out quickly. After 5 months I was so desperate for a haircut
that I finally made that happen too.
September, 2020
Overripe bananas had been going into the freezer and I finally had enough (too many really) to make our wonderful version of
Banana bread, (the recipe is on the
Recipes/Food page).  It turned out so good, it features on our dessert menu with vanilla ice
cream.  Lest you think we're greedy, we split a half of a half piece, lol, with just a dab of vanilla. Because it was so full of banana
goodness it took an extra 15 minutes of baking time.
Left, banana bread, middle, morning sunrise across the lake, and right, latest puzzle amusement.
Below is an experimental sausage & veggie pie.  It turned out very light and somewhat quiche-like - and so-o-o delicious. I
loosely followed a recipe for a cabbage pie, but added a lot of other touches to make it mine.  Cabbage was a main ingredient,
about 5 cups worth, but I also added diced smoked sausage, shredded carrots, diced onions, fresh tomatoes (just the fleshy
part - no seeds or juice) and cilantro and parsley.  Again, the recipe will be on the Recipes/Food page if you want to try it.

Seasoned the pie with a spice blend that is new to me called Hawaij - "It's a spice blend with primarily cumin and black pepper
and often contains cardamom, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves". I toasted up my seeds and ground my own
but left out the cinnamon and ginger on this go-round. Topped with some special aged italian shreds and Wow! Just wow.
Another item that I have been keeping in stock is my savory compound butter.  I
take 2 sticks of salted butter, softened, and add a LOT of minced fresh garlic, herbs
du Provence, Krauter Butter herbs (bought in Germany after trying - comprised of
dill, parsley, and whatever all alse), tarragon, mint and salt/papper.  

This is fantastic for garlic toast, steamed vegetables, sauteed veg's, baked
potatoes, under the skin on chicken or turkey before baking, even on cooked pasta
or rice.  The uses are endless and the best part is not having to mince garlic every
time! After it's fully blended I make logs on plastic wrap and freeze. So great to have

One last puzzle, on the left, and now that it's September (even though it still feels
like July!), it's time to change out my summer plants/wreaths with the fall foliage.
Must also have more chicken pot pie! I'm getting pretty good at it.
What a strange year it's been - I'm not going to go into it all as I'm sure we are tired of hearing everything rehashed over and
over.  I wish we could break out of this Covid isolation shell we've been in since the early spring - I'm getting a little sick of
trying to entertain myself which is weird, as I usually love having lots of time to myself, lol.

I've been fooling around with rock painting using the acrylic pour method (fun!), followed up with "DOT" painting to add more
texture and interest. Big whoop, I know, but it occupies my time and I have something nice to gift away to friends and family.
November, 2020
We have been having some cooler fall weather which gives us these pale pink mornings, so pretty and having the heat index drop
is a blessing.  Of course, now we are having a Tropical Storm pass by meaning the heat and humidity is up and bound to stay that
way for a while. So far no damaging winds or heavy rains, not like poor south FL.

Happy Veterans Day and Thank You all for your service!  Most families I know have generations of veterans in their family, which
keeps the sacrifices necessary to retain our freedom close to our hearts.  My Dad (USN) fought in the Korean War, my brother
(USMC) fought in the Vietnam War, Ed's Granddad (Army) fought in World War I, our Sons-in-Law (USAF) fought in the Middle East
Another chicken pot pie, decorated as nicely as I could make it with the extra dough. Turned out great, and the recipe is on the
Food/Recipe page
here.   I follow the ratios for the gravy pretty carefully as it makes the perfect amount of filling every time.
Below left, another nice pan of Cornbread Breakfast Strata, in the middle a shot of my newly reorganized pantry storage
area, and a pan full of Mexican goodness - beef and black bean enchiladas with yellow rice - YUM!
Well, I'll start with some "show and tell" about projects.  Ed and our neighborhood handyman did a deck refurbishment which
involved removing all the top boards, examining the underlying stringers and supports for soundness then laying a whole slew of
replacement top boards. Luckily all the underlying structures were sound.  It was a mighty project and one that will last our lifetimes
no doubt.  We'll let it dry out and season a bit before painting it with a light colored non-skid paint.

Our "backyard" is comprised of a deck level right off the florida room and stairs down to a lower dock level with a landscaped area
and under deck storage area.
Late Nov - Early Dec, 2020
Above left, our 15' x 30' deck all completed, middle a shot of the cleaned-up dock level palm tree garden area, lots of wood scraps
and sawdust needed to be picked-up and removed, and finally a beautiful view of the lakeside sunrise from the deck.
A couple of shots of the stained glass lantern lit up at night, plus a shot of one of our trees, a tiny tabletop Christmas tree. Getting
ready for decorations, outside lights and baked delights - yay, Christmas time!

One of the things I find somewhat fascinating are these old cookbook pamphlets. The library has a section where they sell magazines
and paperbacks and I often troll the magazines to see what I can find.  The Royal cook book below has a 1922 copyright date(!) and is
full  of very interesting old recipes which can give you a glimpse into the times.  Click on the right most picture to see a portion of the
table of contents. Wow, I love the sound of these names; Hermits, Hickory Nut candy, Corn and Rice Pone, Lady Goldenglow, Poor
Man's Pudding and many more.

So far, I've baked, bourbon-basted and mellowed my fruitcake, (I've included the recipe I favor on the
recipe page,  ), as well as my
Oatmeal Christmas cookies. Most gifts are wrapped and ready.  The weather is chilly and lends itself to evenings on deck enjoying the
propane firepit, a hot cup of tea and half-slice of fruitcake.
Another project recently completed was the refurbishment and painting of the overhead
beams and lattice work in our front courtyard area, prior to the installation of 2 solar
panels and a mounting pole for 2 hard-wired security cameras.  

The idea being that when the power goes down, (and as a by-product the WIFI), and you
want to stay aware of your surroundings, you really need your CCTV cameras to be
hardwired, and connected to a solar power system.  Of course, with the Engineer on the
case our solar power system also provides for indoor LED lighting and more.

...and SO...that is what we've been up to.  Check out a few additions to the Food/Recipe
page if you're a glutton for punishment, lol.
Picture taken through a screened window, sorry.
Another Christmas has rolled around after a long, weird year, and I have to say I haven't had any trouble getting into the Christmas
spirit.  It's definitely a great diversion.  With no trip out west this year and all the stay-at-home restrictions we can always use a
diversion!  I actually mailed quite a few Christmas cards hoping to give some cheap thrills to friends and family.

We don't do much special gift buying anymore as we generally buy things we need when we need/want them, however there are
always a few things under the tree and Santa helps with that too.  We do put goodies in the stockings - most often edibles that are a
splurge item, but also small doodads such as tools, camping kit additions, small LED lights of various types and such like that.
Christmastime - Dec, 2020
My main man grilling up some ribs and soaking up some vitamin D at the same
time.  Middle shot shows the thoughtful gift basket sent by our youngest and I'm
getting ready to plunder our stuffed stockings.
A Christmas morning shot of our tabletop tree setup in the Florida Room and our
mid-afternoon Christmas dinner feast of pressure-cooked turkey thighs, oven-roasted
cornbread dressing, rice & gravy, carrots, asparagus plus the usual trimmings.  All
accompanied by a nice bottle of Bogle Cab Sav - YUM!
A blast from the past aboard
Dreamtime - Antigua 2007. Roasted
cornish hen with oven-roasted root
vegetables, rum-pickled pineapple,
fresh apple slices, blue cheese stuffed
olives,  marinated cucumbers and a
Shiraz-Cab wine. Beautiful day,
beautiful memory!