Mother’s Day Brunch at the Homestead

Jenn and Me sharing a moment

When I visit Vermont to see the family, one thing I can always count on is great tasting and healthy food. Since I have chosen to be more proactive in seeking local and organic foods, I have a challenge in dining at many restaurants because I can’t control the ingredients used.

But when I am in Vermont, we patronize dining spots that utilize local, fresh, and seasonal food. Over the next several posts, we will look at some of the restaurants in the Burlington-Stowe area where we ate. I did a lot of eating up there. Interestingly though, with all the good, healthy foods, I didn’t gain any weight which delighted and surprised me to no end!!

The first though that I do have to mention is the wonderful Mother’s Day Brunch lovingly prepared by my daughter Jenn, aka The Leftover Queen at their home Thistlemoon Meadows.  ( To see more pictures and get her recipes, then click on the link.)  She and Roberto made ME feel like the queen.

Roberto doing the honors

Jenn setting out the goodies

We started the meal with a Proseco and pear juice cocktail. So good. Then we had home grown organic eggs from their own chickens combined with mushroom, chives, and feta cheese with a drizzle of truffle oil. YUM. Along with that we had organic sausage patties, roasted fingerling potatoes and the most wonderful and surprising coffee cake made with white beans. Who knew you could do that!! And to top it off, was much coffee with cream and a dish of her homemade yogurt and berries.

I was ready for a nap by then, but they whisked me of to a craft show. I hadn’t done one of those in years. It was a big one, the Champlain Valley Expo.  We just went to the craft side but there were antiques there as well in a different area for those who wished to see it.

We ended our day taking a drive and walk through the New North End in Burlington. Could be a place to move to one day?? Big thing to think about going from the deep South in Florida to well Vermont. Not a big fan of cold and snow but the healthy lifestyle of Vermonters is a big draw.

More good eating to come. See you next post.

 

 

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Holiday Happenings

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  Here it is the first week of December behind us and as Christmas approaches, minds turn toward holiday preparations and festivities. Holiday music feels the airways, street lights twinkle as you drive by and the ever present sale ads are piling up in our mailboxes.

 

What if you are having a hard time revving up in this season of commercial bliss and are longing for a simpler, more inspired way to go. What if you would rather spend some quality time looking for fun, albeit holiday related things do and see with your family. Locally here in Ocala, FL, this is fairly easy to do. There is finally a chill in the air and one can almost picture a wintry scene. Just on TV this morning, I saw that it is SNOWING along the gulf coast- well not in Florida- but close enough. There was a person skiing in the snow being pulled along by a GOLF CART.

 

Okay, back to the to dos’.

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At home, there is the baking, and watching of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or pulling out the favorite movies White Christmas or It’s a Beautiful Life.

 

But if you want to get out to do some fun things in Ocala and in the surrounding area, here are some ideas:

 

One of the best fun times I’ve had recently was the ice show. We’ve gone several times to see the Ice Show at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee near Orlando. This you have to see to believe. This year you can see it from November 11 through January 13. There are over two million pounds of ice sculpted into life sized ice sculptures of the most beautiful vignettes with Santa, toy shops, a life sized carousel and an Arctic forest. You are bundled up in subzero parkas and treated to hot chocolate on the way out through what else a gift shop. But it was fun. For ticket prices and hours click here. When we were there we made a day of it by also going to the Villa de Flora right in the complex for a wonderful buffet of Mediterranean goodies in a twinkling arbor setting. There are a lot of other eateries there too – something for everyone.

 

This weekend in Ocala you can take the Candlelight House Tour sponsored by the Historical Preservation Society. There are three houses in the historic district all decked out inside and out. Fabulous. Along the route are carolers, Santa, and hostesses from the society greeting you with hot cider, hot chocolate and festive cookies. The homes themselves are just beautiful, but all decked out with garland, trees, lights, and all manor of finery, they are a real treat. Along with that if you park in the downtown square, which is all aglow itself, you can ride in style to the homes in a horse drawn carriage.

 

Also, this weekend on December 6 is the famous Ocala Christmas Parade along Silver Springs Blvd. I was shocked the first time I saw it. This parade draws so many people that they start putting out lawn chairs along the parade route a WEEK before to reserve a spot. Vendors aplenty walk the route, set up food areas where you can but a hot drink and a hot dog, and people tailgate just like at a football game. Very festive. The parade lasts a couple hours with marching bands, horses, floats, cars with dignitaries, police on motorcycles, Shriners in small cars, Clydesdales and Santa himself at the end.

 

The famous attraction,Silver Springs, has opened their annual Festival of Lights. It is in full swing with a light display throughout the park and a lighted boat parade that will delight you as you stroll the park’s paths while listening to live Carolers.

 

And the Ocala Symphony Orchestra performs their annual Christmas and Hanukkah festival of music called A Mannheim Christmas Spectacular on December 12th and 13th.

 

As a matter of fact there are so many happenings crammed into this month that it would be hard to see them all. Anything you’d like from church chorales and plays to story times to art receptions to Santa on the Square – there is something for the young, the old and everyone in between. I found 14 pages of activities and events by just going to www.ocala.com  and clicking on the entertainment topic. It would take me all week to just list them all for you, so just click and take a look for the listings. If you live in another community, you could probably find just as many fun outings too. Hopefully, there are some ideas here that will spark your interest.

 

“May you days be merry and bright and may all your Christmases be white”……….. Happy holidays everyone!!

 

 

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Holiday Travel

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Over the last number of months I have noticed that for those who can travel at the drop of a hat, there have been many almost too good to be true travel opportunities both here and abroad. I have been drooling over the many times I have seen enticing cruises or plane-hotel combinations that make me almost weep with longing to get on the road to strike while the iron is hot, to be cliché.

 

But now with the holidays around the bend, the holiday traveler is likely to see an increase in fares across the board. Many, like the 65% off packages at Sandals, which ads say expire at the end of October, or the wonderful trips and fares on Travelocity will tighten up as hordes of would be travelers realize that it is time to book for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

 

As is always the case for holiday travel, book early. If you have not already made your plans, do it now. Not only will the prices spike, but with cutbacks there are fewer flights and fewer seats available. It may still not be too late to cash in on some of the bargains out there with hotels. We all know that prices are higher on certain days like weekends or on the cusp of Thanksgiving or Christmas. One way to cut down on the cost and to assure a reservation is to travel a few days before and after the actual holiday if your vacation time permits. It will not only be less expensive, but will not be such a hassle as you stand in shorter lines at check in.

 

With airlines now limiting baggage and charging for it, the trend is to bring carry on bags. On the positive side, this will save you some money, avoid having to stand in line at the baggage claim, and eliminate the worry about lost baggage due to heavy travel volume. On the down side, everyone else is doing this too and the overhead storage is often bulging and overfull. Plus, if it is Christmas and you usually pack all of your gifts, this will make a difference on how and what you bring. Think about that when you are out shopping. Also, there is the no gift wrapping thing to consider. Nothing would say bah humbug more than having your gift wrap removed for inspection!! Maybe with the economy so bad right now, you might rethink your family’s gift strategy and plan some group activities in lieu of consumer items this year.

 

When you are ready to travel, make sure you have tagged all of your luggage. I like to put the address inside the bag too just in case. Double check before you leave to see if your flight is on schedule. Weather conditions or just the fact that more people are traveling could cause delays. And don’t forget your tickets and passports if you are going abroad.

 

Getting to the airport early is a must during the holiday, especially if you need to use satellite parking. If possible, get a ride to the airport with a friend or shuttle service so you can be dropped off right at the check in area. This will save you time and money that would have had to be spent on parking your car there. Bring your own snacks too. I hear that some airlines are even charging for beverages now. If you usually rely on grabbing a bite at the airport remember it will be crowded.

 

With all of this you may be asking yourself if it is really worth all this fuss. Of course it is. A little advance organizing will make all the difference when you are on your way to Grandma’s.

 

Happy Holidays everyone. :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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