Grow it in a Pot

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I just got back from Alabama. It was twenty-nine degrees one night, and the next day the sky opened up as if Noah’s ark had hit a sandbar and heavenly floodwaters had been dispersed to dislodge it.

However, it is warm here in Florida, and I am itching to fertilize my citrus trees and set out bedding plants. I hope that you are seeing hints of spring where you live.

My oldest son, Jeff, lives near Birmingham, and he grows citrus and veggies in pots. He has been good enough to share with us some photos and a tip or two. Container gardening might be something that you’d like to try, if you don’t already. He, of course, brings the plants into the garage during the cold weather. Here are a few of his trees:

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Happy Buns

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Hey, just want to share a happy discovery made earlier today.
We live near nowhere, so I am always thrilled when I find something unusual or generally unavailable in these parts.
This morning Pop and I went to the town next door to the new Pig.
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When I spotted a basket of muffuletta bread, I felt like I’d stumbled upon that illusive pot at the end of the rainbow.
It’s the size of a dinner plate!! And whole wheat, too!
For now it’s going into the freezer until I get back from Birmingham. I’ll be thinking about what kind of scrumptious filling for inside. Got any muffuletta recipes? Send them my way.
Off to the Magic City in a week!

A Coastal Christmas

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Taken Thanksgiving Day 2016 on Florida’s Forgotten Coast

This is my third Christmas spent in Florida’s panhandle. Compared to a traditional Christmas in colder parts of the country, Christmas here doesn’t even come close. No snow, no roasting anything on an open fire (inside, that is), no snowmen, no sleigh bells, no frost bitten noses.

Santa arrives every year in Apalachicola on a shrimp boat. I’m serious. And although, the old fellow is about as out of place as a chandelier in an outhouse, he greets children who anxiously wait on the dock, excited to tell Ole Saint Nick what’s on their Christmas list.

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Getting Ready For Thanksgiving

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Once Halloween was over, my thoughts immediately turned to Thanksgiving. There’s so much to do, but I knew where to start.

I began by opening a large cardboard box, the word Thanksgiving scribbled with a black Sharpie on the top flap. As always, when I packed up last year I deliberately put Percy Pilgrim on top so that he would be the first item to greet me when I looked inside. I was actually looking forward to seeing him (it doesn’t take much for me).

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Years ago granddaughter Anna made him from a toilet paper spindle and black felt. A Thanksgiving without Percy would be like forgetting the cranberry sauce.

Seeing Percy reminded me of the pumpkin seeds…let me tell you about the pumpkin seeds. When grandson Trey was about five years old I asked him to save the seeds from his jack-o-lantern so that we could plant them and grow our own pumpkins. His mother helped him label the seeds. We never planted them because my heart just melted when I saw all the work he’d put into printing ‘pumpkin seeds’ (I knew he’d started over a dozen times. Okay, maybe I overreacted, but he was only five and had blonde curls all over his little head.) That jar of pumpkin seeds has been on a kitchen shelf wherever I’ve lived the last seventeen years. I get it out every fall and use it as part of my autumn décor. Continue reading

Blended Tea & The Softer Side of Halloween

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Spare me the witches, ghosts, and goblins associated with Halloween. If I want to be frightened, I’ll watch the nightly news on television.

I lean more toward the softer side of Halloween and autumn in general. You know ~ pumpkin patches, baked apples, smiling jack-0-lanterns, little kids in clown suits, pumpkin pecan bread, and spiced teas.

How about you? What do you like best about October and especially Halloween?

I’ve seen a few seasons, Halloweens, Thanksgivings, and Christmases come and go. Seventy-five of each, to be exact.

We are on the eve of another Halloween. I don’t have many trick-or-treaters anymore, and I miss seeing children in their costumes. Especially the little ones, they are so cute.

When I was young there was no such thing as a store bought costume. Why would anyone spend good money on a costume when lipstick, an eyebrow pencil, and a little imagination could transform a kid into a clown, a hobo, a princess, a cowboy, an Indian, or whatever they wanted to be?

I always made Halloween costumes for my three children. They carried a pillow case or paper bag  (or maybe that was what I carried when I trick-or-treated, I think the kids carried those plastic pumpkins with a handle) for candy contributions, and it never crossed my mind that anyone would do anything harmful or unkind as we patrolled neighborhood streets. I usually made popcorn balls for the trick-or-treaters, wrapped them up in clear wrap and tied them with orange ribbon.

I found this photo taken in 1967 of my three children.  Geni (now 55) and Jeff (now 57) are on the back row. Little Eric (soon to be 51) is in front. My aunt made these costumes that the kids wore every Halloween until they were sick and tired of being a clown and begged for something new. Continue reading

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old

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When everything’s said and done, how many good friends remain over a lifetime?

Last week, my friend Tonya and her friend Teresa came from Alabama to spend a few days in our little town. Apalachicola, Florida, lies on the banks of the Apalachicola River where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. It is, among other things, an artsy-fartsy town blessed with writers and artists of various sorts. Karen White’s “Flight Patterns” is set in Apalach. Tonya is a fan of Karen’s and wanted to see places that are part of her story.

Here’s a selfie taken with the pier at Lafayette Park in the background. We didn’t walk all the way to the end because some folks were fishing, and we didn’t want to disturb them. And it’s a long way down there.

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It is the off-season here. The summer vacationers have gone home to get their kids in school, and the snowbirds aren’t expected until December. They usually stay until April when things begin to warm up. Tonya and Teresa pretty much had the Coombs House to themselves. They loved staying in the old house that has been beautifully restored. Continue reading

Somewhere between summer and winter

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Every tree and shrub here in the panhandle of Florida is as green as Kermit. Are the leaves beginning to turn where you live?

Having lived most of my life in the mountains of north Alabama, I get homesick when September rolls out the red carpet for autumn. Here fall isn’t announced by changing leaves but by a change in the air.

Take a deep breath. You know what autumn smells like. You know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout. There’s briskness in every breeze with just a hint of colder weather sure to come.

As the season changes, so do our cravings for food. No more summer barbecues until next Memorial Day (thank goodness). It’s time for chili and soup and stew. My family has always been huge lovers of anything with a rich broth that provides sopping juice.

I only cook for my husband and myself these days, but I often prepare a big meal at the beginning of the week, and we graze on it until we’re ready for something new. Usually by day three any leftovers become remakes. Leftover roast and veggies become beef stew. Leftover soups may end up in the blender to become a coulis for the next meat dish later in the week.  Continue reading