Page 7 Archives

Page 7 Archives


Welcome to Page II of the Archives

Watch your step as we  enter into the library, filled with books and antiques that house my past blog posts.

Remember not to touch anything without the librarian on duty.  Also a warning.  Many have been known to get lost while in this room.  So be careful.


I was brought up to love and respect books.  Always handle books with the greatest respect and care as I fear they will soon be a thing of the past.

Julie Lancaster-Whann


This is a library you know.


Archives Start Here


Happy New Year!

2014 Resolutions!

You know, we go through this every new year. We make resolutions to better ourselves usually after a night of excess from that New Year’s Eve party the night before. (We pretty much spend our new year’s with Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper). For most of us our ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ tend to fall in the category of ‘losing weight’. Like that is all that we need to work on. Some people like to think that “Hey, let’s get a gym membership, that way we’ll be sure to lose weight. We’ll work out with our personal trainer and get all toned by summer to fit into that new swimsuit.” How many years have I heard so many women say that? If it were that easy then ‘losing weight’ would not be on everyone’s ‘New Year’s Resolution’ list year after year, after year, after year………………….

Julie, on the scale at last year’s new year resolution.

Why not this year we all aim for something a bit different? Instead of working on our ‘outsides’, why not work on our ‘insides’? How about our personalities? What about our humanitarian causes? Do you even have a humanitarian cause? What about the way we treat each other? What about the way we treat animals? Or as the Michael Jackson song, “The man in the mirror” goes, “You want change? Then start with the ‘man in the mirror’.” Start with yourself, and then change will happen.

(Click on the link above for the greatest song ever written. I don’t think that I have ever gotten through it without crying. I especially lose it when Desmond Tutu cries and I see John Lennon and Jackie Kennedy. How much better my country would be if MLK, JFK, and Robert had lived.)

“When you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change.”

Michael Jackson

(BTW: The charges against Michael Jackson were always unproven allegations. I don’t know what happened but I am not going to write him off.)

A list of typical New Year’s resolutions that we all make year after year.

I usually don’t bother with ‘new year’s resolutions’ because as I see it, if I want to make a change in myself then I do it then, I don’t wait until some specific day. My ‘new year’s message’ isn’t some cliché. I am certainly no expert on anything, except maybe putting on my make-up. (Hey, I’ve been doing it long enough. Also I did used to sell Estee Lauder, Germaine Monteil and Lancome. You want skin care advice? I’m your girl!), but to reiterate, I am no expert at solving the world’s problems. However, you do learn a thing or two along the way so it is with that in which I wish to share my “knowledge” on this very special new year. I’m going to miss 2013 because I happen to love the number 13, but I do have very high hopes for 2014. I don’t have high hopes in our politicians to do for the American people over their billionaire donors, or my country tackling important issues like gun control, or the need to regulate Wall Street, or the world’s problems, but I do have high hopes in myself and it is that from which my 2014 will be great! I intend to make my little corner of the world just a little bit better by making myself a little bit better.

So here is my advice to you: (I have after all, been around for 5 decades).


1. Everything in life is temporary.

Enjoy it while you can because it will be gone, or somehow different. But it will never be the same.

2. Only be around those people that truly appreciate you and don’t waste your time on those that don’t. Everyone needs a support system and a set of good friends. If the people around you aren’t, then you know what to do. Nothing drastic of course. Just move on until you find friends that are right for you. I am the kind of person that would rather be alone than be with people that were not that good to me. I happen to like my own company and I prefer it to ‘false friends’.

3. NEVER take anything personally! People are the way they are because of their own life experiences. People do what they do because it is in THEM to do it! It never has anything to do with you. If you are being bullied it is not your fault! It is because the people that are bullying you LOVE to do it. It also has to do with their own low self-worth. Happy people do not go around causing trouble for others. Only unhappy people do. So recognize that fact. Putting you down is their way of feeling good about themselves. A sort of false ‘self-worth’.

An oldie but a goodie.

Read Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ and you will feel so much better. Trust me! It will change your life.

4. Don’t waste your life on all the senseless gossip. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said,

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; and small minds discuss people.” 

Don’t be part of the ‘small minded’ community.  (That is pretty much the majority right there.  Don’t care to be in that group).  Be an independent thinker!!  As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Make yourselves sheep, the wolves will eat you.”  Or something to that effect.   Bottom line:  Don’t be sheep.

     Eleanor Roosevelt

5.  Quit caring what other people think of you, only then can you truly be yourself and the person you were meant to be.

Do what you want and to ‘heck fire’ with what anyone else thinks!  It’s so liberating not to care!  When I started this website I happen to know that I had some old “friends” that made fun of me for doing it.  When I started out we were averaging about 19 visitors per day, now we are averaging 3,000 visitors per month!  From all over the world.  I kind of feel like you are my faraway friends that check in occasionally.  I love it!  So, do what you want to do!  I lived in Sevierville, Tennessee for 3 years when I was in high school there.  Dolly Parton is from Sevierville.  I learned about Dolly’s story.  When she was young she was from a very poor mountain family.  Dolly would go around singing and people would laugh and make fun of her.  Who’s laughing now??  (p.s. I was in the Sevier County High School Marching Band and Dolly Parton came to our high school to perform.  We opened with a rendition of ‘Hello Dolly’ to introduce her when she performed).  She is honestly the nicest person ever born.  We’re lucky to have her on the planet.  Don’t anyone DARE diss Dolly!!!  She truly is a GOD!

Dolly Parton young, at left and glorious, at right.  🙂

6.  If at all possible give or donate to a good charity or cause.  Whether it be money, or your time, just give.  We may not be able to help the entire world but we could help just one person and that goes a long way toward making the world a better place.  Some of my favorite causes are The Spring of Tampa Bay, a shelter for abused men, women and children.  Another favorite cause of ours is Habitat for Humanity.

The Spring of Tampa Bay.

Habitat for Humanity

Julie and Gordon and Veronica and Sarah at a Habitat for Humanity fundraiser in Tampa, Florida.

Monk and Sugar also give to their own animal causes, such as The Humane Society and The ASPCA.  Find your own favorite causes, or create one.

7.  Does it really matter that we have the latest this or that?  Also, who can afford to keep up with all that?  While everyone I know has the fanciest cell phone out there I carry an old black waterproof cell phone used by Navy Seals.  I’m at the beach all the time so when I bought my cell phone I bought it to fit my lifestyle.  It gets wet and sandy.  It has no fancy features.  For me, all I care about is to have a usable phone if I need to call someone, or if someone needs to call me.  I also have 32 unread text messages that I don’t even care to know how to access to read.  I don’t text, I’ve never texted before in my life. I’ve never said to anyone, “Hey, text me!”  If someone wants me then they can call me the old fashioned way.  And maybe I’ll answer.  🙂

8.  Eight, eight, eight, come on Julie your running out of things to say.  Can’t you even make it to 10?

Oh!  Got one.  VOTE!  If you don’t vote then you don’t matter!!!!

So register to vote.  Look, they count on us to be too busy to pay attention to what they do.  That’s when they enact their disastrous agenda that’s not good to anyone except their billionaire donors.  So take time to pay attention.  They are kind of like rats in the dark.  Scheming and plotting, but turn on a light on them and they scatter.  So pay attention!!!

9.  Nine, nine, nine, nine, nine……………………………………………..

Looks like I’m not going to be able to make it to 10.  So I will close here at “9” with the following advice that is probably more important that anything that I have said so far.

“Wash your make –up off every night before you go to bed.”

        Julie age 28 at left, and Julie age 52, at right.

   Use lots of moisturizer!!!!

   That’s the best advice I can give you.

                       Happy New Year!!!


December 13, 2013   Friday the 13th.

Veronica Whann Collaboration Piece with UT Students.

The University of Tampa BFA Graduates Show

The program for the art show at The Scarfone/Hartley Gallery at The University of Tampa.  On Friday the 13th. my daughter Veronica had her art show.  She did extremely well.  I’ve posted several photos of the show below.  The show was for graduating art students.

Veronica Whann

Veronica inspecting her art display.

Julie in front of one of Veronica’s paintings.

The Scarfone/Hartley Gallery at The University of Tampa.

My favorite Veronica painting.  It just looks very spiritual to me.

Veronica’s Website

Be sure to check it out.  Her website was also part of the art show.

Veronica with her father Gordon and her friend Sarah.

There were so many interesting art at the gallery by such talented students.  I see that Marilyn is still a favorite no matter what age the artist is.

I have to say that the University of Tampa in Tampa, Florida is one of the most beautiful college campus’s in America.  I especially love the minarets on what is formerly known as The Tampa Bay Hotel.  Just beautiful!

It was a great night!


P.S.  Here are some excellent art pieces that we saw at the campus that really impressed me.  These were painted on cardboard, which proves that a true artist will paint on anything, they just love to paint.

December 14, 2013  Veronica’s Graduation from

The University of Tampa

On December 14th. our daughter Veronica graduated from The University of Tampa in Tampa, Florida.  It was probably the most beautiful ceremony that I have ever seen.  The college is also just as beautiful.  It started out as The Tampa Bay Hotel and the college sprung from there.

The University of Tampa

I LOVE the minarets.

The University of Tampa Commencement program.

One-Hundred Thirty-Fifth Commencement.

9:30 a.m.,

Martinez Athletic Center

Bringing in the Minaret, at left.  The President of The University of Tampa, Ronald L. Vaughn Ph.D., at right.

The Graduation Ceremony

The graduation ceremony was televised.  The entire graduation lasted an hour and a half.  It was held in the Martinez Athletic Center.

Veronica receiving her diploma for Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Photos top:  Me with Veronica, the proud mother.  Below, Gordon with Veronica, the proud father.  It was a great day!

But now she faces the world!  How scary is that?




 November 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Brodie!

My little baby is now 21.  Where did the time go?

                                                            One very proud Mom,




  November 30, 2013

The falling elevator on The Tower of Terror at Disney Hollywood Studios.  My most favorite thrill ride in all the world!

  Lauren, Brodie, Julie and Gordon.



      November 29, 2013

      Our Fun Thanksgiving

                                                 Gordon and Julie

A delicious turkey leg and pork shank served as our Thanksgiving meal.  Probably more authentic than any green bean casserole or marshmallow topped yams at today’s typical Thanksgiving feast.

This year it was my brilliant idea for all of us to spend Thanksgiving at Disney Hollywood Studios.  We hadn’t been to Disney in a while so we’ve been itching to go.  We do our best to avoid Disney during the summer months because of the very heavy crowds and hot temps.  (We are on the same school schedule as Canada and the U.K. so Disney is extra busy during the summer months).  But we do love going in the Autumn months because it is a bit cooler and not as crowded.

There was hardly any traffic going into the park.  We were able to park close to the entrance.  The park opened at 9:00 a.m. so we arrived shortly after.  Parking was $15.00.




The Tower of Terror is my most favorite ride ever.  I love everything about it.  The beautiful tall building, the architecture, the grounds and it’s beautiful flora and fauna, the ‘Twilight Zone’ story to it, and beautiful decorations inside and outside, the ‘ghostly’ beings, the once beautiful old Hollywood Hotel theme, the bell hops, and the falling elevator thrill ride.  I could ride it over and over again.  It is a ride that cannot injure you.  It’s just pulling you up and then down.  A tickling in your stomach, that’s all.

I love the architecture of the building.  All the intricate designs and the beautiful bougainvillea everywhere.  I must have taken a good 300 photos of just this location.  I love photography and I have a great camera for picking up those nice little details that I love so much.

  The Hollywood Tower Hotel

I love statuary, this place is covered with them and I love everyone of them.  Such a museum quality to them.

I no longer like the roller coaster thrill rides because they have become more fast and rough and jerky to appeal to a more adventurous rider.  You can really get injured on some of those rides.  So I avoid most of them and stick to a safer, smoother ride.  The Tower of Terror is perfect for that thrill seeking, yet safe environment.  It’s great for most everyone.  You do have to be a certain height and age and should not have any health problems in order to ride safely.  But to an already healthy person, this is a perfect ride!

Inside the Tower of Terror.  Someone’s forgotten luggage.  The check in counter.

Disney Hollywood Studios is also an homage to ‘Old Hollywood’.  With their handsome leading men and beautiful leading ladies that had such class and grace and sophistication.  Big beautiful magnificent movie productions that I grew up watching and loving.

Mickey Mouse’s hat from the movie Fantasia. 

Here is where all the pins are located. 

Directly underneath there is a shop.

     The Great Movie Ride

Here I am, below left,  in front of The Great Movie Ride.  I have a thing for foo-dogs and anything Asian.

It was a very cool day, but a nice one.  According to Disney stats, the average park guest walks 11 miles per day.  We did a lot of walking so be sure so wear some very comfortable shoes and some socks.  In addition to walking all day in the park, we also walked from our car to and from the park at opening and closing and did not take the tram.

How do you like my Disney purse?  I converted an old L.L. Bean healthy backpack into my permanent Disney bag.  It’s comfortable to carry and very roomy for all my necessities.  I love adding my collectible pins.

Yes, even 52 year old’s love the Disney “princesses”.  My most favorite is Mulan with Merida being a close second and Tiana a third.  But lately I’ve been revisiting my childhood and I am more interested in the old Disney.  My very first Disney movie was to see Snow White.  So yesterday while I was shopping around the pins I bought a Snow White pin to add to my bag.

The park was so beautiful with all the Christmas decorations up.


We ate our turkey legs and pork shanks at The Dockside Diner.  Below Brodie and Lauren are making their choices.  I’ve also posted the menu below.


  The Tower of Terror at night is just as exciting and beautiful as it is in the daytime.  We all had to have one last ride of the night before we left.

 It looked all so beautiful!

It can get very cold here in Florida, freezing even, but it doesn’t last long, just a few days at a time.  But take my advice.  It is a lot colder than you think when you are walking around outside all day in 40’s and 50’s and 60’s temps.  Fahrenheit.  Just having some gloves and a hat and scarf can make a big difference in keeping you warm.

One last ride of the night on The Tower of Terror.

The night ended with a spectacular light show and then something magical happened that only Disney could provide.  It started snowing!  I heard many a person excitedly exclaim, “Look, it’s snowing!”  Upon close examination the “snow” was nothing more than bath suds that dissolved when they landed on you.  But it was the first “snow” that we have seen in many, many years and that made everyone’s night!


We caught dinner at the ABC Commissary.  It is a fast food restaurant with some very good food.  But a limited menu.  There are some great places to eat at Disney Hollywood Studios.  Our most favorite is The Sci-Fi Dine-Inn.  But, when you eat at those kinds of places (Sci-Fi Dine-Inn, The Brown Derby, etc…), then you end up spending a lot of time eating and not experiencing the park.  We just wanted something fast, yet tasty, so we chose the places that fit our desires.

I recommend the salmon.

 Disney’s Light show

                 The finale of the night.

This was my favorite little section among the huge light display.  A Chinese restaurant with a bicycle for delivering take-out to neighboring customers.  I love it!


By the way.  When you are at the Disney parks you can buy all you want without having to carry it around the park.  Just tell the clerk that is ringing up your merchandise that you would like to pick it up at the front entrance when you leave that night, and they will send it there.  You will be asked to fill out a green form with your name, address and phone number.  You will be given a copy of the green form and your receipt.  Just present it to the ‘package pick-up area’ when you leave the park and they will give you the purchases that you paid for that day.  If you stay at the park resorts they will deliver your purchases to your room.  Our experiences with Disney have always been very good.  Which is why we continue to go back time and time again.



November 2013

In Support of Nigella Lawson

I first discovered Nigella Lawson on The Style Network when we were living in Maryland in the early 2000’s.  She was this beautiful British aristocrat that had a cooking television show where she would prepare these delicious looking recipes and then devour them in front of our eyes.  I mean really pigging out.  Licking her fingers, licking the spatula, putting big bites into her mouth.  I had never in my life seen anyone do that, let alone on t.v..

I rest my case.

  I was born and raised in the south where we were taught to pick at our food.  I know that my mother would scold me if I ate more than she thought that I should.  Sometimes calling me names like ‘greedy gut’ and ‘glutton’.  My mother was this little petite woman that was barely over 5 feet tall and weighing in at 119.  I was this big growing girl, 5 feet 8 inches tall that was outside kicking a ball around all day up a hill, or climbing trees, swinging from vines like Tarzan and all the while working up an appetite.  I would go inside wanting something to eat and my mother would either deny me, or reluctantly give me something while making me feel awful about getting food in between meals.  (We weren’t poor.  My step-father was a doctor.)  While most people were taught to eat everything on their plate I was taught not to.  Here is all this food but we’re not supposed to eat it?  So my relationship with food was a bit dysfunctional.  My grandmother is the one that taught me how to eat like a “lady”.  I think it was a ‘southern social class’ kind of a thing.   You know, sitting up straight and not slouching, eating properly by holding the silverware a certain way, keeping our knees together at all times with a pretty smile on our face.  Being a “lady”.

Nigella on the swing with her parents and a sister.

 Nigella was officially more of a “lady” than I was, being the daughter of Nigel Lawson, Baron of Blaby, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Vanessa Salmon Lawson, a celebrated socialite whose family owned the J. Lyons and Co. business.   At one point Nigel Lawson was Margaret Thatcher’s right hand man.  Nigella grew up in the British aristocracy.  She had and has a privileged lifestyle.  Nigella is entitled to  the courtesy term, The Honourable, but does not use the title.  Yet there she was on television eating like anyone but a person of aristocracy.  Or so I thought.

A young Nigella Lawson

 I read her biography a few years ago and I was struck by how similar our upbringing was.  Except that hers was on a much more grand scale than mine.  We are both around the same age, she is a little over a year older than me.  We both have the same belief system.  We both moved around a lot while growing up.  I was the new kid in school 9 times in 12 years and she also had to start many a new school during her childhood.

Nigella with her many books.  Another thing that we have in common.  I have almost as many.

I think that she and I also had a similar relationship with our mother’s.  She has said that she really didn’t have very much of a relationship with her mother until she became an adult.  She also said that her mother never really liked her and that on her deathbed (Vanessa died at age 47 from liver cancer) she has said,

“When my mother was on her deathbed, she told me, ‘Darling, whatever you do in life, nothing will ever match the achievement of being tall.’ I’m around 5’7″ in a family of short women. She liked to say I did it through willpower.”

My Nigella DVD’s and book collections.

Nigella, along with her sisters and brother are the product of their parent’s divorce and then marriage to other people.  I also come from divorce.  I am the product of my mother’s first marriage to my biological father, a.k.a. my sperm donor, whom I never really had much of a relationship with.  He ended up dying from a massive heart attack when I was 21.  Nigella is the oldest child, I too am the oldest child with my mother and step-father going on to have 3 sons.

Nigella is not a chef and she has never purported to be one.  She has always called herself a cook.  Her background is as a book reviewer and restaurant critic with later going on to be the deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times.  She did graduate from Oxford University and was a freelance journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines before becoming an author with her first book, How to Eat, which went on to become a best seller.  Her love of cooking comes from the women in her family.  She then went on to write a number of books, all of which I own.  Not to mention several television cooking shows, most of which I have on DVD.  Nigella’s career and accolades are far more vast than what I am writing here.

Nigella’s Christmas cookbook is a Christmas staple of ours.

Nigella Lawson seems happiest when in the kitchen.

Nigella’s Christmas cookbook is a staple in our home every Christmas.  Her bourbon ribs are a favorite not only with us but with lots of our family and friends that we have made them for.

Nigella’s Bourbon ribs that Gordon made this past summer.  PERFECT!

  Also Nigella’s ‘Drunken Devils on Horseback’ is now a Christmas Eve tradition with us.  I suppose that I could rattle on and on about how big of a fan that I am all day long but the admiration was slow going at first.  I refer you back to the start of this blog post.  As appalled as I was at watching the devouring of food by Nigella on her show, there was still something very charming about her so I kept watching her show.  I came to realize that she is a very intelligent, talented, creative woman that has some wonderful and delicious recipes that we enjoy cooking and eating to this day.

Nigella with her first husband John Diamond.

I have followed her career for the past decade always excited when there would be a new cookbook or article or television show that would be coming out.  I think that Nigella’s first husband, John Diamond, was very instrumental in helping Nigella to launch a career as a writer.  He was very supportive of her.  He died of throat cancer in 2001.

Nigella with her second husband Charles Saatchi.   The famous choking incident.

She then went on to marry Charles Saatchi in 2003 and has just recently divorced.  I think that we can all remember the ‘throat choking’ photos that emerged earlier this year.

  But at this writing there is a trial going on in Britain where Nigella’s former assistants, Italian-born sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, accused of fraudulently using the credit cards of Charles Saatchi’s company.

Nigella testifying in the trial of her former assistants, the Grillo sisters.

The Grillo Sisters

 Some revelations have been coming out about Nigella, such as some former drug use with her admitting to using cocaine and marijuana in the past.  I’m sure this is very embarrassing and humiliating for her and her family.  The airing of the dirty laundry to the world.  The skeletons in the closet.  Oddly enough the ones that tend to throw the largest stones always seem to have the bigger skeletons in their own closets.

  I’m not here to judge Nigella because I myself have not lived a perfect life.  You know, I’ve never understood it when people say things like, ‘No regrets!  I’ve got no regrets!! I’d do it all over again!’  I myself have a ton of regrets!!  I would do a million things differently if I could go back and change things.  But I can’t.  I also can’t help but think that if I could go back and undo some mistakes I would probably just make new ones and thus the cycle continues….  So instead of worrying about past mistakes and regrets that I can never change, I think it best to just put it all behind us and move on.  I’ve always been the type of person that does what she wants and then lives with the consequences.  Nigella is a strong woman and no matter what happens she will be fine.

I think that she just needs to get away from the people that are in her life that are not good for her.  You’d be surprised how badly it is for you having the wrong people in your life.  I purged the bullies from my life and she will do the same from hers.  I learned from my mistakes and she will learn from hers.  I look forward to her next cookbook and television show because I will always be a fan.

Thank you for the good food recipes.

  Oh, and we will be giving the Nigellissima cookbook along with our “Italian” care package as Christmas gifts this year.




        Why I Also Supported Martha Stewart

                            During her Incarceration

On June 4, 2003 Martha Stewart was convicted of 9 counts including securities fraud and obstruction of justice.  She went on to serve 5 months in jail.  Martha had to step down as CEO of her own company.  Most people don’t even realize exactly what she was accused of doing.  She was accused of telling a lie and then her stocks went up the next day.  First of all, it is hard to prove that someone lied.  People tell me the wrong information all the time, it doesn’t mean that they are lying to me.  Also the political “climate” at that time was very anti- strong, independent women that leaned democrat.

If you recall Susan Sarandon, Barbra Streisand and Hillary Rodham Clinton were main targets of a certain political party along with Martha Stewart.

Martha Stewart’s own assistant confirmed to the prosecution that Martha did indeed lie.  But what the average person doesn’t realize is that it is typical for the prosecution to go after the people beneath whomever they are trying to prosecute.  Usually telling them that if they don’t say this or that, that it is THEY  who will be going to prison.  So knowing this, how can we believe anything that anyone says?

I like Martha and I looked at her overall in making the decision to support her during that time.  I think that we should not be so quick to judge and jump on the ‘I hate so and so’ bandwagon.  I still support her to this day.  She is the ‘Elvis of domesticity’.  At least in my opinion anyway.

Thank you very much for your contribution Martha.  You are the reason that I use my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s linens.  You are also the reason that I do about a million more things that I just don’t have time to mention now.


  November 27, 2013

  The Sweaty Cheese

Gordon pictured here with Chef Curtis Stone.

Last weekend Gordon worked the E.A.T. St. Pete culinary event that was located at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.  Gordon got to work and help behind the scenes for many well known chefs such as Curtis Stone, Ingrid Hoffman, Ming Tsai, and the most famous of them all, THE Iron Chef, Mashaharu Morimoto.  All the above mentioned chefs are featured are on The Cooking Chanel or the Food Network.  Gordon is pictured here with Chef Curtis Stone.  Gordon will be doing a more thorough write-up on his blog but what I wanted to talk about is the big ball of cheese that Gordon brought home with him from that event.

   It is a La Roccolana Castelpelrosa.

It is an Italian cheese that is something of a cross between a Parmigiano-Reggiano and Mozzarella. .  It is quite an expensive cheese, our small bowling ball size here is worth between $80.00 to $100.00.  This cheese is one of the items that Gordon received from helping out at the St. Petersburg event.  When he first brought it home we hung it up in our kitchen.  That is what you do with it.  (Note the rope).  Picture this lovely cheese hanging in the kitchen of some lovely Italian villa in Rome.  However, we noticed that the cheese started dripping this liquid creating a pool underneath it.  It was sweating.

Gordon decided to  place the “sweaty” cheese on our new hand carved, custom made, one of a kind cabinet from India.  It sat there for a few days.  I looked at the cheese a few days later and noticed that it was still all wet.  So I picked it up to clean the area beneath it and that is when I noticed……………….the spot!

That sweaty cheese took the paint right off the hand carved, custom made, one of a kind cabinet from India.  The gift box at right, below, with the shell on top now hides the “spot”.  At least until Christmas is over with. 🙂

Gordon then placed the cheese on a towel by the coffee pot and that is where it has been now for almost a week.  Just sitting there, sweating like a pig, like most things here in Florida do.  I keep asking Gordon, “Is that damn cheese going to sit there forever?  What are you going to do with it?  ?  It can’t live here anymore!”  The cheese is becoming a liability.  Gordon has been experimenting with the temps in the house to find out what the “cheese” is comfortable with.  Veronica, Brodie and I noticed that the house was really cold the other day, that is when we found out that Gordon had lowered the house temp for the “cheese”.   Really??  We’re freezing for the cheese??

Long story short.  There was an uprising.  Me, Veronica and Brodie won.  The cheese now stands alone.  🙂    Life is back to normal with one exception.  There is now a spot on our hand carved, custom made, one of a kind cabinet from India.

The cheese is still sweaty but it will be eaten soon with an excellent Italian meal.   I think from now on we are going to change the expression, “Sweating like a pig.” to “Sweating like a ball of cheese.”  It’ll catch on.

Below:  Our hand carved, custom made, one of a kind cabinet from India that now has a “spot” on it.  We love this weathered looking cabinet.  I’m sure the “spot” will just add some character to it.  🙂  Not to mention, a story to tell about a big ball of sweaty cheese.

I’ve already decorated the “nook” for a beachy Christmas.  This is the earliest that I have ever started getting out the Christmas stuff.  How about you?

                              Happy Christmas Decorating!




     November 22, 2013

  Just For Me

What a perfect dinner just for me.  I’m out at the condo doing some work, this was last night’s dinner.  Leftover fried rice with leftover grilled pork loin, green tea and the best Kimchi I have ever eaten!  This is now my new favorite brand from my favorite Asian supermarket in Brandon, Florida.

Kimchi is a spiced Korean cabbage. 

We were first introduced to Kimchi when we were living in Hawaii.  It is a staple there.

If you want to make leftovers look good there is no better leftovers than a rice dish that you can then top with some sort of meat or vegetables.  Here I used our leftover pork loin.





      November 20, 2013

I’m starting a new blog page as my other pages are quite full.  So I thought that I would start out be answering some questions that I get from time to time.  I won’t give the questions, only the answers.  (You’ll probably be able to figure them out anyway).

1.  Aquarius

2.  13

3.  The Rosa-Senesis (Hibiscus)

4.  Mexican and Chinese

5.  Almost 28 years.

6.  2, both born in Hawaii.

7.  3 brothers.  I’m the oldest.

8.  Favorite color?  Don’t have one.

9.  (D), NOT an (R)

10.  Rome, Georgia

11.  Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window starring Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and Raymond Burr, or any of the Hitchcock movies that feature the ‘cool blondes’.  Tippi Hedren, Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint, Janet Leigh………

12.  The most beautiful place on Earth.  Hawaii!

13.  Oh, and not to mention, 52!

14.  I don’t wear any.  Perfume, that is!

I hope that answers your questions.  Thank you very much for asking!


All in the Family

My cousin Butch Walker

Check out all of his videos on YouTube

Flash Animation

P.S.  His real name is Brad.  He took his Dad’s name.  I think that was nice.  🙂


Butch Walker and the Black Widows


And yes, that is Matthew McConaughey


Butch Walker and The Black Widows

Summer of ’89

We’re very proud of him!

(Notice that he mentions Rome.  We’re all from Rome, Georgia that is).



November 4, 2013

The Archie Comics Saved My Life


When I was in the 5th. grade in elementary school we moved to Roanoke, Virginia.  I was the new kid in school, as usual.  We moved around a lot when I was growing up, I was the new kid in school 9 times in 12 years.  We moved to Virginia so that my step-father could attend a school to become a surgeon.  He was already an MD but wanted to expand his medical education and become a General Surgeon.  So we left my happy life in Dahlonega, Georgia where I was very popular with lots of friends, to come to Virginia.


(I ask you?  Am I ugly here?  I don’t think so.  That John Walker didn’t know what he was talking about.)

I remember how scared I was on my first day of school.   I can even remember the book bag that my mother bought for me.  I picked it out.  It was this faux denim with this big butterfly on it.  I can remember sitting in the classroom and I spotted this really cute boy in the front row, his name was John Walker.  He was talking to a girl seated directly behind him named Martha Plunkett, when he noticed me looking at him.  He then said to me, “Hey, what are you looking at ugly?”  Just what I needed.  My self-esteem was already at an all time low and he managed to shoot me down even further.  What a great first day of school.  I think I came home upset that day and stayed in my room when I got home.  I never really liked Roanoke.  Probably because they never really liked me.  We did live there for a few years.  I did meet some interesting people but I was never very happy there.  So I learned to escape into the world of Archie Comics.

  Every Saturday my mother would give me my $1.00 allowance and I would skip down to the 7-11 to spend it.  Comic books were about 15 cents in those days and candy was very cheap.  I would come home with a bag full of goodies and read my comic books and eat my candy and watch cartoons every Saturday after my horseback riding lessons that started before DAWN!  (That’s another childhood trauma that I will save for a future time.  Just know that the teacher hated me so much that she gave me the meanest horse she had, Ajax.  Ajax did everything in his power to either buck me off of him or kick me when I would take him back to his stall.  There were many close calls of me climbing the walls of the stall to get away from him trying to kick me, or running for my life from Ajax.  Luckily I was a very fast athletic young girl.  I have to admit that it gives me great pleasure to know that Ajax is probably dead and can no longer terrorize children).   Oh, FYI:  If you stand directly behind a horse that is trying to kick you, he can’t.  But you have to be very close to the horse.  The horse will then try to move in order to have some room so that he/she can kick you.  Just keep moving with the horse, standing directly behind until you make it to an escape exit.  Then run like hell!!!

But getting back to my story.  I immersed myself into the whole Archie Comic Book genre.  I so wanted to be like Veronica Lodge.  She was beautiful, popular and rich and all the boys adored her and didn’t call her “ugly”.  So every Saturday for a few years in Roanoke, Virginia I would skip down to the 7-11  with my $1.00 allowance and buy what became ‘my escape’.  It was a very entertaining escape.  It meant so much to me that when I gave birth to my daughter the only name I wanted for her was “Veronica”.   (It was either going to be that or Nancy Drew).  I gave her the name that led to the life I didn’t have.  My Veronica grew up in a more stable environment than I did.  She had lots of friends and was a much happier child than I was.  Isn’t that what we want for our children?  For them to have it better than we did?  Well, I managed to give that to my daughter.  I didn’t just give her the name Veronica, I gave her the life of Veronica.  Except my Veronica is a bit nicer than the cartoon Veronica.  But, I still adore Veronica Lodge to this day.  After all, she helped save my life. The days weren’t as lonely with her in it.

Thank you for all the enjoyment!


p.s.  I’ve always wanted a jalopy.



Happy Birthday Vivien


My niece Vivien born in Ireland to her American father, my brother Johnny, and her Czech Republic mother, Sabina. 

I love her birthday cake!  And no, that’s not Piglet in a dress.  It is a British cartoon character that Vivien loves.

Happy Birthday Vivien,

Love Aunt Julie



Happy Halloween! 



Me, with Alfred Hitchcock


We have started getting ready for Halloween. We had a blast carving pumpkins, doing some scary decorating and making some fun “spooky” foods.

  Be sure to check out my Alfred Hitchcock Appreciation page. 


See me as Melanie Daniels from The Birds





My I Heart Hitch Pumpkin



This is my favorite month of the year!!





Tallulah Bankhead in Alfred Hitchcock’s


(As fellow Water Bearer Tallulah Bankhead famously said, “Nobody can be exactly like me. Even I have a hard time doing it.”)
Love it!

We Aquarian’s are a lot alike.



October 12, 2013

Never Fails

Whenever I am in a hurry to get from Indian Shores, to Valrico I always encounter this.  The dreaded “Draw Bridge”. 

Just part of life when you are along the coast.  But I wouldn’t trade it for the WORLD!!!



September 16, 2013

A Taste of Asia

Saturday me, Gordon, Veronica and her friend Sarah attended a fundraising dinner for

Habitat for Humanity 

at the

Art Institute of Tampa 


Our Dinner Menu


Had a lot of fun and ate a lot of food.  In addition to some excellent puu-puu’s, (appetizers) we had a 5-course Asian dinner prepared by Chef Viet Vo and the best lychee cocktails.  Perfect!!


Be sure to check out the Habitat for Humanity website if you are interested in helping or even donating.  Habitat builds good strong sturdy homes for low-income families and sells to them for 0% interest.

Habitat was founded by former President Jimmy Carter.


P.S.  Gordon made the salmon puu-puu’s.




September 10, 2013

Outside My Window


I am one lucky person to have this visitor yesterday.

You are welcome in our yard anytime!


Thank you for making my day!

Julie, the hawk (Osprey) lover.



September 1, 2013

Veronica Whann’s Art

Be sure to check out my daughter, Veronica Whann’s art for sale.  Just click on the link above.

Proud Mom,


 P.S.  I’m keeping this one.




August 29, 2013

A big thank you to my favorite U.K. family for the lovely gifts!



Beautiful Vintage Sherry Glasses

Thank you Heidi, Neil, Sydney, Libby, and Oren.

I can’t wait to use them!

Also a big thank you for my other goodies.


Something to eat, and something to read on the beach.

You spoil me!





August 14, 2013

Julie and Sherry


Good friends from Canada visiting.  Always so happy to see them!

Out at the condo.





July 31, 2013

Fun Reunion


My nieces from Ireland are visiting!

Kate has a birthday August 28.  Happy Birthday Kate!



July 31, 2013

My Nook



My breakfast table set with sea shells, fruit and flowers.  My daughter’s art work, my plants and flowers in the background, my fountain outside my window, and roses drying on my light fixture above. Perfect!


The lamps full of shells above I bought at a thrift store in Sun City, Florida.  This is where I find most of my shells.  Had I bought these shells retail they would have cost me a good $200.00.  But I just paid $8.00 per lamp. 


Once I opened the lamp I then washed all the shells.  They were a bit dusty from being in those lamps for years.

I then set the shells onto  my Nook table.


 I placed them into a nice pattern around my table. 


My fountain outside my nook.

I took some great photos of my fountain. 

Why not check them out on the Statuary post:


Hope you enjoy them!

I placed some light green and white carnations in the water.


My window African Violets. 

They remind me of my Grandma Nell.  She always had them in her window.



Dishes in the Kitchen


I went to the Asian supermarket last week and bought the cutest bowls and plates.  I just love them!


Always check out your local Asian or Spanish or ethnic supermarkets.  You can find some wonderful items there.




Most of the time I have fresh flowers around my kitchen and nook area.  Orchids are a favorite.





July 15, 2013

Julie’s Desk

Isn’t this just sad?

Look at this mess!  I am revamping this area and cleaning it all up.  A total re-organization.   I’ll be bringing those photos when I’m finished.  I am determined to clean all this stuff up and have a better system than I do.

Wish me luck!






July 14, 2013

It’s a sad day.

Quote from To Kill a Mockingbird”

RIP Trayvon

With love,

Julie and the Whann Family



June 22, 2013

28 Years Ago Today

It all began……..




June 18, 2013

My Colonoscopy

(I just wanted to add my experience to the “Voice” that is already out there). 


I’ll probably be getting a phone call from my mother chastising me for writing about this.  (She monitors my blog and ‘gets onto me’ if I write something that she deems “inappropriate”.  Or my daughter Veronica will just roll her eyes and mumble something to the tune of ‘what an embarrassing thing to do and how we have to live here in this town and that I need to think of someone other than myself… blah, blah, blah……  

Most of the women in my family are very critical).  But still, I couldn’t resist the opportunity that presented itself when I got my own colonoscopy.

  After all if Meryl Streep can do a public service announcement commercial urging people over 50 to get one, and Katie Couric can go on LIVE television with her colonoscopy in March 2000 which resulted in a 20% increase in the number of Americans receiving the test, then why can’t I?   I’m not thinking about myself, I just want to add to the voice that is already out there.  If I was thinking about myself then I would not be posting the ‘lovely’ photos of me with no make-up on and wearing that ugly green gown. 

 What I am learning is that many people will put off this very important test, especially men.  So I thought that I would document my own colonoscopy to let you know that it really wasn’t that bad.  I am just your average “healthy” Caucasian 52 year old female.  Overall my health is very good.  I don’t take many medications, there is not a history of cancer in my family.  My step-father just died of melanoma this year but he is not a blood relative.  So there was no reason to fear that there would be a problem.  This was just a screening.  Colon cancer is a disease that is 90% curable if caught early.  When Katie Couric had her televised colonoscopy she had just lost her husband, Jay Monahan, to the disease in 1998 at the young age of 42.

 I received a referral from my family care physician for the colonoscopy and made an appointment with the gastroenterologist. At that appointment the doctor went over what all I needed to do to prepare for the big day, which I’ll document throughout the blog.  I then made the appointment for my colonoscopy that took place at the hospital. 

The Last Supper

(The night before my colonoscopy prep).


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Artichoke and Tuscany garlic bruschetta’s for appetizers and my famous Baked Ziti for dinner.

  Lots of herby greens to make things exit smoothly.  🙂

This was going to be an important meal for me seeing as how I wouldn’t be able to eat for the next day and a half.

No food after midnight.


Colonoscopy Prep Day


I was able to have coffee in the morning, but no more dark liquids the rest of the day.

I was excited that I can have my Cranberry Juice, even though it is white and loaded with sugar.  Normally I have my diet Red Cranberry juice for breakfast.

4 tablets of Dulcolax at 11:00 a.m.


Magnesium Citrate

Drink one bottle at 2:00 p.m.

Drink second bottle at 6:00 p.m.

(Broth, Broth and Broth)

Plenty of Clear Fluids

Drink all day long so as not to dehydrate yourself.

Note:  It “HIT” me around 3:00 p.m.  Just in case you were wondering.

Guess what’s for dinner?


“As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.

Scarlett O’Hara

What she said.

   Julie Lancaster-Whann



Colonoscopy Day

I had to be at the hospital by 6:00 a.m.!!! 

Not my prettiest hour.  🙁
No make-up.

The procedure started at 8:30 a.m.  It only lasted about 20 minutes and they put me to sleep.  Thank GOD!


Recovery was about an hour.  You are very groggy afterwards.  They brought me two blueberry muffins and cranberry juice.  Always have someone drive you home afterwards.  I know it took me a few hours before I started to feel like myself again.

Leaving the Hospital


The doctor did find some polyps and removed them and they have been sent off for analysis.  35% of all colonoscopy patients have polyps.  The doctor informed me that I am prone to polyps and will need another colonoscopy in 3 years.

But for now I am awaiting the results of my polyps.  I should find out by next Wednesday.


Sausage Biscuits and hash browns

Junk Food!!!

My reward to me.

Hey, I NEVER eat this stuff but I was so craving it!!



P.S.  I’m healthy and my polyps are not cancerous!!!


June 7, 2013

Healthy Lunch
One of the best sandwiches I ever ate.


Gordon and I are cutting back on the amount of meat that we eat in our daily lives.  We haven’t eaten red meat in over 20 years but we do still eat chicken, fish, turkey and pork, but we are lessening the amount that we do eat.  Here is an excellent sandwich that has no meat in it.  It’s delicious!  Just grill some whole wheat ciabata bread with some olive oil, then spread one side with an herbed goat cheese.  You could also spread a tasty hummas if you like.  Then add some fresh basil leaves or fresh spinach leaves, then add your grilled veggies, here we grilled zucchini, red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers and some onions.  Then I topped it with some sundried tomatoes marinating in olive oil.

Happy Eating!


p.s.  Vegetarians live an average of 9.5 years longer than meat eaters and they are healthier during their lives. 


May 15, 2013

My Asian Mother’s Day

The orchid that I received on Mother’s Day.

I adore the Asian cultures, they are a big part of our lives.  Here I have decorated our dining room table for a lovely lunch with tea.

Lunch With Tea


My Kokeshi dolls, (Japanese) with the rice bowls that I made out of sculpy.  Sculpy is a clay that you mold and then bake in the oven.  I simply used black sculpy to create a bowl, then used white sculpy to make little grains of rice.  I then baked it in the oven for about 20 minutes until it was nice and hard.

I also put some toothpicks into the sculpy to look like chopsticks before I baked them.

 My favorite snack bento box and my favorite chopsticks in their carrying case.  I carry this with me quite often when I am enjoying some homemade sushi on the go.   

Lovely Tea
and a gift.  🙂

In my new bamboo tray.

Below:  a samurai helmet made from a napkin.  By Gordon.  🙂
Cloth origami of sorts.


Fortune Cookies
I do tend to mix my Asian cultures.  But that is me.  Fortune cookies are Chinese. 

My Fortune

It reads:  You will take a chance in the near future, and win!
I hope it comes true.  🙂

Double Wall Glass Tea Infuser

I love tea. 

Just look at how healthy the Asian’s are.  It is due in large part because of their taking of tea.  Above is my Asian tea infuser.  I simply add some tea leaves to the metal sieve and add some hot water from my kettle.  Once the tea is infused, a good 5 minutes to allow all the anitoxidants to infuse, then drink up. 



Bamboo tray with bamboo cup (vase).
I love bamboo. 
I found the bamboo cup, above, at the Dollar Store.
  I bought several.  They can be cups or vases or whatever you like.

My Table Setting

 If you look closely at my table setting above you see that I use several of these sort of “bamboo blinds”.  When Gordon fitted our windows with these blinds outside he had to cut them.  We kept the extra that he cut off.  Didn’t know that, did you?  Looks great though!

Always be on the look out for something that you can either recycle or use yourself.  Think twice before you throw anything away. 




May 14, 2013

I enjoy Being a Girl


I have always adored Nancy Kwan! She totally rocked the Flower Drum Song.  This is my homage to her. This movie was made the year I was born, 1961.


Nancy Kwan


I totally adore her!




May 12, 2013

Happy Mother’s Day

Julie and baby Shannon Diana “Veronica” Whann in Honolulu, Hawaii 1987.

I just stole this photo from Veronica’s room.  She had it framed.  That is why there is this dark section around us.  Veronica made me a mother.  Gordon and I were so poor that my grandmother is the one that bought us the baby bed.  My mother gave me the dress that I am wearing as a birthday gift.  Gordon made the origami mobile because we could not afford to buy a real mobile.  If you look closely you can see that he made a Navy ship.  He was in the Navy at the time aboard the U.S.S. Worden.  I was the Worden wives club president at the time. 

To all the good mother’s out there.  Anyone can be a mother but I only care to honor the good ones.  It’s not just biology that makes us mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day!


(Mother to Shannon Diana Veronica Whann and Brodie Keith Kanakaleo Whann).



May 1, 2013

May is National Photography Month

As an amateur photographer myself I am happy that there is a month honoring the ‘Photographer.’  I know that I have more enjoyment when I am taking pictures than when I am doing anything else. 

Here are my latest shots.

Monk and Sugar and I saw the snake outside.  I was curious as to what that ‘black thing was draped over the Boston ferns’ when I realized that it was a snake.  I then herded Monk and Sugar into the house while I grabbed my camera.

Our second backyard snake this year.  And as I say, “Thank godness for my zoom lens.”

Happy Photographing!!


p.s.  Isn’t this the Year of the Snake?  Gordon is a snake.  🙂



April 15, 2013

Girl Scouting


Me and Veronica far right, Brodie sitting in the middle.

He was more or less our mascot.  🙂

Beautiful Hawaii

On April 22, 2013 is Girl Scout Leader Day.  As a former Girl Scout Leader myself, I am reflecting on my past leadership, and my wonderful troop of girls.  It was an experience that I am so grateful that I had. It was also some of the happiest times of my life.  These are memories, and memories are all that matters.  Memories are all that we take with us everywhere we go.  When they are good memories, then we are very lucky.

Me and my Girl Scout Troop Outrigging in Hawaii near Chinaman’s Hat.  That is me, in the middle, climbing on board.  Veronica is on the left holding her paddle in the air.  You can see Chinaman’s Hat in the background.  Why is it called Chinaman’s Hat?  Because it looks like a Chinaman’s Hat.

We had the privilege of living in Hawaii for 13 years.  Both of our children, Veronica and Brodie, were born on the island and grew up with the Aloha Spirit.  Now don’t laugh.  There actually is an Aloha Spirit.  It’s a feeling, it’s a tradition, It’s a lifestyle, and when you let it inside of you, it is wonderful.  We have never recovered from leaving Hawaii.  The only way that I can describe leaving it is to say that it is like getting kicked out of what we perceive to be The Garden of Eden.  When you have had paradise, everything else is second best. I love Florida, but it is second best.

We have many happy memories of Hawaii and we did live our lives to the fullest while we were there.  Here are a few photos of me and my Girl Scout Troop on an outrigger canoe near Chinaman’s Hat.  A typical Girl Scout outing for us.  Now do you see why I miss it?

I could not have hand picked a better group of girls and I have missed them every day since we parted.  They were wonderful.   Now some of them are married and have started families of their own.  I just hope that there is a little place inside of them that remembers “Miss Julie” and our fun Girl Scout adventures.

 Brodie playing in the ocean as we are in one of the outrigger canoes in the background.

 I will miss Hawaii until the day that I die.




Look what I found in my closet!

My old Girl Scout bag. 

I created it myself.  I received this gardening bag in the mail free when I ordered something that I cannot even remember.  I thought that it would make a perfect bag for me to tote all of my Girls Scout things around in for our meetings, especially with all these great big pockets. 


The badges and patches that I have sewn all over the bag, as me and my girls in my troop earned them.  We did quite a lot in my 3 years of Girl Scout leadership.

I never unpacked it.  It still has everything in it from 1999.

The back of my bag. 

I utilized every space for either a patch, a badge, or a pin.

Girl Scouting Hawaii

Volunteering brought me so much happiness.  Why don’t you consider it?

and of course,

Happy Scouting!




April 14, 2013

A Mother’s Bragging Rights

My son Brodie made the brochure cover of his college.  That is him on the left.  HCC, Hillsborough Community College.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             My Daughter Veronica’s Self-Protrait



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        She received an excellent on it from her teacher at her college, The University of Tampa.




Colorful Corner

My old paint brushes and palettes.  A barnacle cluster vase that is holding my paint brushes, an old antique box that use to house silver, and one of my lovely orchids in my Grandmother’s old pot.

Gordon and I recently purchased this hutch for our breakfast nook area.  It was handmade in Mumbai, India.  Funny thing is that we weren’t looking for anything like this but when we spotted it be both instantly wanted it.  I love the rugged distressed beauty of it.  It reminded me of the many colors of an artist palette so I got out my old palettes and some paint brushes and a few other things and set about to make this corner a colorful one.

Veronica’s painting.  The colors go so well with our new hutch.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Regardless of how nice and lovely this piece of furniture is, we desperately needed the storage space.  Now we have something that is lovely to look at and has a useful purpose. 




March 21, 2013

Happy Easter

Me, far left with Dave Longaberger and some other basket enthusiasts in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1994.

When I think of Easter I think of baskets and when I think of baskets I think of the Longaberger baskets.  So as I was setting out some of my Longaberger baskets for the upcoming Easter holiday I discovered this photo of Dave Longaberger, the founder of Longaberger baskets, when he came to Hawaii in 1994. 


                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Here are just a few of my many Longaberger baskets.  I especially loved the Easter ones.  The basket in the photo top right was signed by Dave Longaberger and Jerry Longaberger when I met them in Hawaii.  Dave Longaberger is deceased now but his legacy lives on.

You know, if I had to do it over again I would not have gone so hog wild over these baskets.  They are beautiful but very expensive.  But still a lovely thing to collect.

Happy Easter,



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It’s just not Easter without a chocolate bunny and lots of rabbit food!



March 7, 2013

When It Comes to Donations………….. 

The Spring of Tampa Bay

The Spring

Call Kat

When it comes to donations most of us think of organizations such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army.  But there are many more organizations out there to consider. There is nothing wrong with donating to Goodwill or The Salvation Army but I just want you to consider some other very important organizations that cater to other groups of people.  For example, we recently purchased some new furniture for our home and we wanted to donate our old furniture to a good cause. Our “old” furniture was in very good shape and we wanted to give it to someone that could use it.  So I called around to various organizations that might be interested in our stuff.  I first called the National Kidney Foundation.  But they don’t accept furniture.  They do however have ‘drives’ where they pick up clothing from your home. You can contact them here at their web address.  We have donated to them in the past.

National Kidney Foundation

I then called Habitat for Humanity to see if they would like our old furniture.  They turned me down because we wanted to donate our old entertainment center and they said that no one would buy the older entertainment centers in their store because people were moving more into flat screen t.v.’s and those units did not accommodate the newer t.v.’s.  But they do many other things and I’ve listed their web address below.

Habitat for Humanity

  Habitat for Humanity did recommend The Spring of TampaBay.  The Spring of Tampa Bay is Hillsborough County’s only certified domestic abuse shelter.  This shelter is for abused men, women and children.  I was really interested when Habitat for Humanity recommended this organization especially because March 8th. is International Women’s Day.  Also March 3rd. was the Japanese Girl’s Day holiday that we love to celebrate from our many years of living in Hawaii. It is also a big holiday there.  So I guess you could say that March is all about women for me.   Personally, I would love it if we had a National Women’s Month!  So to the ‘powers that be’ out there, why not? Hear that Hillary Clinton?  If anyone can do it YOU can!  Let’s move on that ASAP!

So I gave The Spring of Tampa Bay a call and talked to a nice woman by the name of Kat and we arranged a pick up time.  They came yesterday and took all of our donations away.  They gave me a receipt for our taxes next year.  I hope that our donations help but what I am worried about the most is that programs like these generally don’t receive the funding that they deserve.  Especially now with the sequester going on in Washington, D.C..  So I would like for you to consider giving to places like this in the future.  If you have any furniture that you would like to donate then you can give Kat a call at .  I also have the website listed above.

They also accept clothing but they will not send the truck out for clothing alone unless you also have furniture to donate.  You can however drop off clothing at their location.  We also donated two television sets as well.

 I suppose that we could have tried to sell the items for a few bucks but ultimately this just feels better.  Giving is recycling and I am very big into recycling. 

Happy Giving!



March 1, 2013

New Camera!

I just bought a new Nikon D3100 and while I was experimenting with it I took my first picture.  The photo below.  Not bad.  I was actually sitting quite far away from these poinsettias that are sitting out on our lanai. 


I also bought a pretty nice zoom lens that I can take close-ups an entire football field away.

This is going to be so much fun!  Below is the second photo I took.
Some of my birthday flowers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Happy photographing!



February 2013

Chinese New Year

Kung Hee Fat Chow

(Happy New Year)

The Year of the Snake

Chinese Take Out and a Movie

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s

Flower Drum Song

Starring the beautiful Nancy Kwan.  She totally rocked the 60’s!  This movie was made the year I was born.  It is now 52 years old.  It is a great depiction of China Town in San Francisco, California in the 50’s/ 60’s. and how traditional Chinese gave birth to Chinese-Americans and the culture clash that followed.

My favorite scene in the movie and probably her most famous one.


Any excuse for us to order take-out.  But we do love Chinese New Year.  This is Gordon’s year as he is a “snake”.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is the best Crab Rangoon in the world! 



Kung Hee Fat Chow!



Wednesday February 13, is my birthday and I will be 52 years old.  I have always loved the number 13 because of my birthday and I am thrilled that this is the year 2013 so I decided to post a photo of myself at age 13.

Julie age 13

  I am looking forward to this year as being very special for me.  The number 13 has always brought me good luck.  Luck is actually all in our mind.  You can make any day a good luck day simply by making it so, the mind is a very powerful thing.  But do you know why the number 13 is considered such a bad number?  It all goes back to Friday, October 13, 1307 when the Knights Templar were rounded up and arrested.  They were eventually found guilty of heresy and burned at the stake. So Friday the 13th. has always been considered a bad day.  Also the number 13 itself.  Most hotels don’t have a 13th. floor, most airplanes don’t have an aisle 13. It skips from 12 to 14.  I do love pointing out to people that sit in seats on aisle 14 that they are really on aisle 13.  That’s the child in me.  But if you think about it bad things have happened on almost every day of the year since time began.  I believe in taking any day and making it special.  It’s all in our minds as to whether the day will be considered good or bad.  We have that power ourselves to take control over it and make it ours.  So why not do it?  I also walk under ladders, I LOVE black cats, I open umbrellas inside the house just to upset my daughter.  Told you I could be childish.  And Halloween is my favorite holiday. So this is MY year!  May the year 2013 reign supreme for all of us!

Happy 13, and Happy Birthday to me! 



p.s. I am enjoying my 50’s much more than I did my 40’s


Talking To My 13 Year Old Self

One of my favorite magazines, The Australian Women’s Weekly, New Zealand Edition, has a section in the magazine called, ‘A Letter To My 16 Year Old Self.’  People such as Terri Irwin, the late Steve Irwin’s wife, a.k.a.  The Crocodile Hunter, and various other Australian and New Zealand celebrities have written advice that they would have given their young selves if they had been given the opportunity and I have often thought what would I do?  What would I do if I could talk to a young 16 year old Julie?  What would I say?  Then I thought that if I ever did have the opportunity I would rather go back to my 13 year old self.  Age 13 is a more impressionable age and besides I was already getting in trouble by age 16 so unfortunately for me I would need to go back in time even further. But let’s skip ahead……………

If I could go back in time and speak to my 13 year old self what would I say? First of all I know that 13 year old Julie would run screaming through the house yelling that ‘Some crazy woman is in my bedroom claiming to be from the future!  Call the police!!’  Realistically that is probably how it would go.  But let’s say that I am able to get my 13 year old self to actually listen to me without having to tie 13 year old Julie up, what would I say?  I don’t really know that I would say anything because although I have never lived a perfect life and I have made tons of mistakes, and have had countless broken hearts and broken relationships and countless bullying that I endured throughout my school years.  I was the new kid in school 9 times in 12 years from living in Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina, several places in each state I might add.  Although I have suffered loneliness and unhappiness and countless “frienemies” and just plain bad things happening to me, all of that has contributed to who I am today.  Julie is a pretty good person.  I happen to like myself.  I happen to think I am a smart person.  I am a generous person.  All of the places that I have lived are experiences that I have had.  Some lessons were good and some were hurtful. Sometimes I learned lessons the hard way.  I have known some wonderful people in my life and I have known some horrible people in my life.  But every person that I ever knew whether good or bad has left an impression on me. My life experiences have shaped who I am and had I not experienced them then would I be the same person that I am today?  Probably not. Most of us look at being wrong as a failure but if you really think about it, it is a blessing.  Especially if you learn something from it.  Life is all how we look at it.  I can look at all my past mistakes as failures or I can view them as blessings because they made me into a better person.  Albert Einstein’s definition of mental illness is, “Someone who does the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.”  Learn from our mistakes and don’t repeat them.

My happiness and my pain have shaped who I am and to tell you the truth that if some powerful person were to come to me and say that they have the power to take all my pain away from me forever and that all I have to do is to take this little pill, I wouldn’t take it.  I love myself far too much to take away what makes me, me.


And alright already, I suppose that I would tell my 13 year old self to stay away from Joyce Ann Young my senior year in high school in Rockingham, N.C..  The word ‘frienemy’ was invented based on her alone.


Don’t trust your sneaky step-brother, Scott, he’s nothing but trouble.  Also, stay away from his family members.


Oh, And to stay away from hip hugger bell bottom pants as well.  You don’t look as good as you think you do Julie.  They still give me nightmares.  🙁



January 14, 2013

The Truth About the Flu Shot

I have been sick now for about a week with what I thought started out as a cold but then grew into the flu.  And no, I didn’t get a flu shot.  It would not have prevented it.  You see, the flu that is sweeping America right now is a new strain.  Whenever you go and get a flu shot, in that flu shot are hundreds of past strains of flu’s, but never any new strain. 

Whenever a new strain of flu does comes out and starts to infect a community, city, or even a nation, our political leaders and our television news personalities encourage us to run out and get a flu shot to prevent the spread of this new flu.  They lead us to believe that all we have to do is to get a flu shot and we will be fine.

But the truth of the matter is that it will not prevent us from catching this new flu, many of the people that have the flu right now did get a flu shot.

You see, whenever a new strain of flu appears it is then diagnosed, a culture has to be grown, which takes some time.  Then a vaccine needs to be mass produced and then distributed all over the country.  So you can expect this strain of flu to be in next years shot.  That is how it works.

But in the meantime wash your hands as if you had OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  🙂  That means about 100 times a day.

Get well soon,


p.s.  I’m feeling much better.  Oh, and remember that extra weight that I put on over the hoidays?  Well, instead of having to lose 15 pounds I am now down to 6.  The only good thing about getting sick.


January 10, 2013

Sick Day

The Inner Sanctum

Welcome to my ‘sick day’ lair.  I think I’m very brave to invite you into this mess of mine.  But this is all comforting when I am sick, which I am right now.  With a bad cold.
Fluffy pillows and blankets, my heating pad, TISSUES, lots of books, magazines, TISSUES, DVD’s, my Nook, and the most comforting thing of all besides TISSUES………………my laptop. 

Tea and Comfort

Green tea, sugar free Halls, leftover Christmas napkins and every remote control that we have.



Note to self:  Buy stock in tissues and Halls.


My encounter with a teenager that shot me as a child.

Picture day, Gainesville, Georgia 2nd. grade.  We only lived there for 6 months.

I was born in the deep south of Georgia and lived in several different towns in the state before the age of 8.  Rome, Atlanta, Gainsville, and Dahlonega.  It was while we were living in Dahlonega, Georgia that I encountered a teenage boy with a gun, and he shot me!  Now I don’t mean to mislead you, the gun was a BB gun but the experience was painful and horrifying.  I was 8 at the time and I was walking home with my mother and step-father from the town square in Dahlonega.  I think my mother was carrying my little baby brother Johnny.  I can’t remember what we were doing in town but I do remember us walking home.  I can also remember that I was barefoot.  I never wore shoes and my feet were always dirty.  I was one of these little girls that was always climbing trees and large bushes, swinging on my tire swing in the backyard, and riding my bicycle.  I was always playing outside.  If any of you have ever seen the magnificent movie ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, I looked just like that little girl Scout with my pixie haircut.  I was quite homely.  Oh, don’t be fooled by the photo above, it was ‘picture day’ after all.

I was always outside.  I would walk all over my neighborhood, if not throughout the town of Dahlonega.  Sometimes that hot Georgia asphalt would get to me but I would just run really fast over it until I got to the grass.  I went everywhere by myself.  I went everywhere barefoot.  I also went everywhere fearless.  It never occurred to me that something bad could happen to me.  Although I was always stepping on broken glass and rusty nails and would limp home for medical attention.  Usually getting yelled at for not wearing any shoes.

But on the day I was shot I was with my parents.  I was probably 8 or 9 and it was a very warm summer day.  I was wearing shorts.  We were walking past this little park area and that is when it happened.  I can remember feeling this sudden pain in my thigh.  It hurt so badly.  What just happened?  Why does my thigh hurt so much?  I shouted out in pain!  I looked down at my leg and at first I didn’t see anything.  I just started rubbing the area and complaining to my mother that my leg hurts.  As usual she ignored my cries for attention and just told me to hurry along.  My parents, with my little brother, started walking ahead of me while I stopped to try and access the damage to my thigh.  I needed to tend to it, to try and make the pain stop.  That is when I spotted him.  Some teenage boy walking away from me with a gun slung over his shoulder glaring at me. Even though I was young I understood that hateful look.  That is when I realized that the pain in my leg was because he shot me!  That is why I am in so much pain.  That is why my thigh was starting to swell up and turn red.

I limped home.  My leg hurt so badly.  When I got home my leg was bright red and swollen.  I showed it to my parents and I told them that I think that boy in the park shot me.  All my mother said to me was, “Now why would he do that”?

 I think she gave me some ice to put on it and I went and lied down on the couch. I was upset and I was in pain.  My leg started to feel better the next day, but I didn’t.  I was upset and hurt that some boy would do that to me.  He didn’t even know me.  I wondered what I could have done to make him do something so bad to me?  As if it were all my fault?  And you do think that it must be your fault.  Because you just can’t fathom why anyone would do such a thing to you? You’re confused, you’re hurt, and you’re upset.  Then you start to wonder how I could have prevented this?  Maybe had I worn something different?  Maybe he didn’t like the clothes that I was wearing?  Maybe had I been walking closer to my parents? Maybe had I been a prettier little girl then he would not have shot me?  Maybe had I looked like my beautiful friend Anne Catherine Folger?  Or my cute friend Monica Moore?  But eventually I realized that it had nothing to do with me. He shot me because there is something wrong with him.  Because there is something very mean and vile inside of him and that has nothing to do with me.  He was the one with the problem.  Eventually I learned to stop blaming myself for what happened.  I got over it and not because of any support from my parents. I got over it because I was a strong and smart little independent girl and I learned to take care of myself.

Moral of the story:  People do what they do because it is in them to do it.  There is no “WHY”?  “WHY”? “WHY”?  It has nothing to do with you!  It is because there is something wrong with them!


I sincerely hope that this time our leaders will do something to help protect us from all of these weapons of mass destruction that we have in our country. Here we tell other countries that they can’t have weapons but we allow them in our own country.  Yes, I know, The Second Amendment.  Our founding fathers were referring to a musket when they wrote The Constitution, not assault rifles.


Thomas Jefferson said that our Constitution should be updated every 20 years to allow for change as we progressed as a nation.  After all, they were riding around in horse drawn carriages at the time.

I’ve been ready for change for a very long time, are you?


 p.s.  Maybe the next time won’t be with a BB gun.



January 2, 2013

New Years Resolutions

I’m sure we can all guess what mine is.
Here I am standing on my bathroom scale.

Every year it is the same thing.  People always ask, ‘what is your new year’s resolution?’  What changes do you plan on making in the coming new year?  What aren’t you happy with about yourself? 

First of all whether I am fat or skinny I am always happy with myself.  🙂

Most years I don’t even make’ new year’s resolutions’ because I have known so many people that can’t keep them.  And why should we?  Why do we have to wait until January 1st. of each and every year to decide to make improvements in ourselves?  If I want to lose weight in June why shouldn’t I?  Why wait until January 1st. to decide to do that?  If I want to take up yoga then why can’t I do that in September? Why wait until January 1st. to suddenly take that on?  So I do see ‘new year’s resolutions’ as a waste of time.  BUT, in my case, and probably most people,  I have put on a few pounds since Halloween feasting that I do need to do something about.  I am a borderline diabetic.  Most of the time I tend to eat very light and healthy meals but I do have to confess that during the holiday season I do tend to become a bit slack.  After all I am married to a culinary student.  I become a slave to all the delicious fatty and festive foods of the season.  Willingly I might add.  So now is my time to hit the treadmill, cut back on the eating, and buckle down to become a more slender and healthy person.  So that I can get back on track to being the person that I am most of the year. It is o.k. to slack off occasionally. But when it comes to our health it is very important to get back on track as soon as possible. 

The Christmas before my grandmother died she was still watching her weight and not enjoying all the holiday foods that the rest of us were.  She then died the following month in January.  I thought to myself that if she had known that was going to be her last Christmas would she have enjoyed it more?  Would she have feasted instead of fasting?  I know that I would have.  So I am not kicking myself for putting on a few pounds.  I think that we all deserve to live a little.  But, now I have to get back on track. 

So I suppose that my ‘new year’s resolution’ is to hit the treadmill and to lose a few pounds, or 15!!!  Shh…………  No one needs to know that number but me and you.  🙂


I want to be a healthy person into my twilight years and the only way to do that is through diet and exercise.  So that is my goal.  My ‘new years resolution’, so to speak.  May all of you achieve your goals as I wish that all of us have a safe and healthy 2013. I LOVE the number 13 so I do view this year as my lucky year.  I was born on February 13, and I have always considered the number 13 to be a good one.  So I am very excited about this year.  I am determined to achieve my goals and I wish you the best in achieving yours.

Happy New Year!!!!




December 11, 2012

Celebrating Christmas and Knowing Its Origins

I love Christmas! 

I cannot get enough of Christmas and even go so far as to have two Christmas’s each year.  One at our house, and one at the beach condo.  Our decorations vary between traditional vintage and antiques that I’ve inherited from my female ancestors, to inexpensive, fun, beachy, Florida and Hawaiian, bordering on tacky sometimes, decorations we’ve collected over the years.  I can go from a formal Christmas to a casual one and not miss a beat.  I can eat delicious rich formal foods then switch to a lighter fare and enjoy each one the same.  I can wear something dressy and formal to one party and then shorts and a top to another.  As long as I can take off my shoes, I’m happy.

  I LOVE Christmas! 

 Christmas is a joy, Christmas is a feeling, and Christmas somehow just connects us all to each other.  Whether we are rich or poor there is just this magic in the air and you can’t help but feel it. 

However among all this Christmas joy that I experience, I also know and understand the origins of Christmas.  I think we should all know why we celebrate this or that.  Where our traditions come from?  Why we do what it is that we do?  Christmas is one of those holidays that not many people know the history of.  Oh, people believe that they do, but they really don’t.  Some people believe that December 25, is Jesus’s birthday, but actually it isn’t. It was 4th century Pope Julius I who decreed that Christ’s birth be celebrated on December 25thto coincide with the Winter Solstice.    Although no one really knows the exact date of Jesus’s birthday, many historians believe that it is in the spring, April 17th has been a date that has been mentioned.  Scholars do agree that King Herod I died in 4 BC and Jesus would have been born in 7-4 BC.  That would put Jesus’s birthday on April 17, 6 BC.  The actual date on the Roman Calendar would be written 17/4/47.  If this is correct then Jesus’s sign of the zodiac would be Aries the Ram.  Jesus is considered the “Lamb of God” and lambs are baby sheep whereas rams are male sheep. 

I do find this all quite interesting.  I am certainly not a scholar and I do not purport to be one but I do consider myself an informed person and I do love to read and learn.  I don’t think we ever get too old to learn.  I have an open mind where learning is concerned.  What I do find interesting is why we put up a Christmas tree?   Where the Yule log comes from?  Why do we do these rituals every year? 


                          Our Christmas/Solstice Tree.

The First Christmas

The reason that Pope Julius I chose December 25th. as Jesus’s birthday is because this was an attempt to “Christianize” the Pagan celebrations and rituals of the day.  The Pagan’s would bring an evergreen into their homes at this time as a reminder in the bleak of winter that spring is just around the corner.  Hence, the Christmas tree.  There were also celebrations of gift giving and feasting.  So when people today remark that ‘Christmas has become too commercialized or gluttonous’, well guess what?  It always was.  Everything that we do to celebrate Christmas is what the Pagan’s would do to celebrate Winter Solstice.  Christmas isn’t just a Christian festival, it also has roots tied to Jewish Hanukkah and the festivals of ancient Greeks and the folk customs of the Druids in Europe. 


Why do we sing carols? Why do we give gifts?   The Roman festival of Saturnalia was a time of great celebration and merry making.  The festival fell around mid- December where people would go around to other people’s homes singing and entertaining them.  Saturnalia was the celebration of Saturn, the Roman god of plenty and agriculture.  This is when gifts of food and money were given to the poor. 


Why do we use holly in our Christmas decorating?  Holly has religious significance that pre-dates Christianity.  The Pagan’s would put it on their doors and windows to protect against evil spirits. Now it is a staple in many of our homes this time of year.  .  Hence, the holly branches being woven into a crown for Jesus.  Legend says that the berries used to be white but Christ’s blood turned them red.

Mistletoe also has religious significance and was used in religious ceremonies and seen as being sacred. It grew on the oak trees, which were viewed as being sacred.  Therefor the mistletoe was seen as being important. 

The Twelve Days of Christmas.  The Medieval Christmas lasted 12 days from December 24th. to January 6th., Twelfth Night.  The Epiphany. This is also where the Yule log comes in, yet another Pagan ritual.  The Yule log was brought into the home on Christmas Eve and put into the fire place. Wine was sometimes poured over the log so that it would burn for 12 days.  The Twelve Days of Christmas.  This was considered good luck if it could burn that long. 

Banning of Christmas celebrations.

The Puritans of England in 1644 didn’t like the Pagan influence in celebrations of Christmas so they set out to ban all merry-making.  No more decorations of holly and mistletoe, no more drinking, no more gift giving and no more caroling.  Christmas was to become more religious, a day of prayer.  Not only in England but here in America as well. This was done from the mid 17th century to the mid 18th century.  Thus the tradition of the Nativity began in churches. 

I could go on and on about all these many traditions and celebrations that we have today that is rooted in so much history.  I find it fascinating.  However, this is the season of Christmas and with a million things to do I must end this. What we need to realize is that Christmas is a combination of Christian, Pagan, and folk traditions that date back centuries.  But the beauty for us living in this age is that we can create our own rituals and traditions and add them to what we already know and do. 


To quote Clement G. Moore the author of T’was the Night Before Christmas, “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

Merry Christmas! 




November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

from Julie and Gordon

This year we kept it small and did every single dish differently. 

Nothing was our usual traditional.
We cooked a turkey breast instead of the entire turkey.

The spread was great and delicious!

Gordon made Michelle Obama’s green beans from her

American Grown The White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America book. 

They were delicious!

Tomorrow it’s extra time on the treadmill.




November 2012

Nearly New

Nearly New Shop
Sun City Center Plaza
Sun City, Florida


Store Hours
Wednesday and Saturday
8:00 – 12 Noon

This thrift store located in Sun City, Florida is truly a gem and I wanted to share it with you so that you may go and check it out as well. 

It is a very well known store within the community and very busy most of the time. 

You will see signs directing you to the store.  See the small sign at right.  

It is quite hidden.

I LOVE a good thrift store!

Here I am happily sitting in the car with the goodies that I purchased.

There are a series of thrift stores located behind the Sun City Center Plaza Shopping Center that constitute the Nearly New Thrift stores. 

Just drive to the very back of the shopping center.  There is parking but arrive early.

PB100229_smallHere are just a few of the shops. 

You do have to plow through all the stuff in order to find your treasures.
We weren’t interested in the furniture,
we were looking more for vintage and antique glassware, serving platters, my amber that I collect  and some green glass for Christmas.

Below, a charming vender with excellent prices on his home grown veggies using only sun and water.  That’s how we like it.  🙂

Gordon bought us some acorn squash for our Thanksgiving dinner.

But THIS is what I love most about this place.



Sun City is a senior retirement community, A.K.A.  Cocoon, where they all drive around in golf cats.  It’s quite cute actually.

Can’t help feeling as if we are in the cast of Cocoon.

Now I want a golf cart!


p.s.  Always check out thrift stores around senior communities.  Seniors tend to start to downsize their lifestyles by getting rid of their belongings.  You can find some excellent good quality items.



November 8, 2012

The Day After

Congratulations to our lovely First Family!!


November 4, 2012
(Daylight Savings Time Begins Today)

Early Voting!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Gordon and Brodie standing in front of our poling station last Thursday,
November 1, 2012.  Lines were long but moved quickly.
Brodie’s first time to vote.

Now we just remain optimistic and keep our fingers crossed until the results are in.  But we did do our part.

If you don’t vote because it is just too much trouble then you don’t matter and you have no right to complain about anything!


P.S.  Voting CHAOS in Florida!!  People being prevented from voting!  Unbelievable!


Saturday Night Puu-Puu’s and a Movie

The Campaign

starring Will Farrell and Zach Galifianakis

Let’s face it, the election is getting to all of us and sometimes you just need to have a good laugh over it and relieve some stress.  So we did!  Even though the movie is the equivalent of a Saturday Night Live parody, and a lot of the cast are SNL alumni, it is amazing just how true to life it really is.

Every now and then we skip the traditional dinner and just have lots of Puu-Puu’s in front of the t.v.  (Puu-Puu’s are Hawaiian for appetizers).

Zesty cream cheese spread, seasoned goat cheese, seasoned feta cheese, horseradish and hot mustards, Kalamata olives…..


                                                                                                                                                      Oven roasted garlic and sweet turkey sausage.

Crackers, toasted ciabata bread and savory puff pastries.

I feel better already!



October 24, 2012

The Claw

Well, look what I did? Stabbed myself with a very sharp chef’s knife and sliced my hand up good. Now I type with my “claw”. Very, very, slowly.


One inch slice at the base of my thumb.


Consoling myself with sugar-free vanilla ice cream in a mug. No bowl for me. It has to be a mug. Just like when I was little.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Happy Halloween,

Julie Boo-Boo

p.s. Update on the claw. Getting better everyday.


October 16, 2012


My Japanese movie poster, The Grudge, that I placed on a picture stand right next to my Asian collection curio cabinet. I thought it was a great way to display something “scary” next to something “normal”.

Be sure to check out my “spirit photos” below. 🙂

Happy Haunting!



October 2, 2012


(Spirit Photos)



Shutter movie posters from both movies. The Japanese original and the American remake.

The Japanese have an excellent way of telling ghost stories through their movies. They LOVE ghosts and they tend to laugh at us over here in America when we make a movie about a ghost, and it features the hero or heroine defeating the ghost. In their stories the ghost always wins because it’s a GHOST!

A “spirit photo” of my daughter Veronica that I took at Epcot Living Seas. It is definitely interesting!




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I took this photo, bottom right, last week with my Polaroid camera. Look to the right, at the top. Orbs! Two of them. I have seen them around that light fixture before and decided to just see what turned up. Well, what luck! Two of them! I took the photo at 6:00 p.m.

My daughter Veronica and I love the American remakes of the Japanese ghost story classics. Such as The Grudge (Ju-on), The Ring (Ringu), and now Shutter. Shutter is a remake of the Japanese movie of the same name that stars Joshua Jackson and Rachel Taylor. A young recently married couple that go on their honeymoon to Japan only to discover that all the photos that they take become ruined.

Shutter, starring Joshua Jackson and Rachel Taylor.

Camera “Shutter”

Joshua Jackson’s character Ben Shaw reunites with two of his friends that he knew while he was living in Japan as a single guy before he met Jane, for a photography job. While he and his wife Jane, played by Rachel Taylor, encounter a woman on the road while Jane is driving, an accident occurs. Jane tries to avoid hitting the woman and ends up wrecking the car. Jane believes that she has hit the woman yet both she and Ben cannot find a body when they search the road. Which leaves Jane haunted as to figure out exactly what happened. Jane and Ben continue on to their honeymoon destination and Ben’s photography job in Tokyo yet they are haunted by someone or something that keeps appearing in their photographs that they take.



Jane and Ben Shaw on their honeymoon in Tokyo.

I happen to love this movie. It of course, was not a huge hit or a big blockbuster, most of my favorite movies aren’t. But none the less this movie is about unexplainable phenomena that appear in photographs. I am posting that I have been seeing things like this show up in my own photographs for years and ended up just throwing them away! I could just kick myself! But from the time I first learned of “spirit photos” I have been keeping them and even treasuring them as something special.


Ben Shaw is a photographer.  Jane investigating the “spirit photos”.

Images from the movie.






  MY Spirit Photos


To the left, a photo that I took while atop Diamond Head Volcano in Honolulu, Hawaii. What is that in my photo?

To the right, a photo that I took of my daughter Veronica about to be sucked into a interdimensional vortex. 🙂


Yet another “spirit photo” taken in Hawaii when we were camping.

An old photo of Veronica’s room.

Veronica in her room with an “orb” keeping watch over her. Kewl, huh??


Moral of the story is, you know that neck pain that you have? May not be neck pain at all. It just might be a little Japanese woman on your back. 🙂 (Gotta watch the movie to get that).

Happy spirit photography…….



p.s.  Actually I have a little theory of ‘spirit photography’, I think that those funny things that show up in our photos might just be a life form on our planet that isn’t visible to the human eye.  I mean, I have no idea what they are, but I do think it is fun to believe that it is some other worldly spirit.


August 5, 2012

The Book Nook vs. The Nook Book

When we lived in Rockingham, North Carolina back in the late 70’s through early 80’s my family decided to open a bookstore. My step- father was the town surgeon and my mother a medical technologist, but at the time was a stay at home mom, we all grew up with a love of books. It was the 6 of us, my parents, me and my 3 younger brothers. We were not the type of family that only read one certain kind of book, we read everything. Every topic, every subject, from politics to gardening, from biographies to auto-biographies, from science fiction to self-help books, from fashion to cooking, from travel to opera, from history to health. We read it all as a family. We may have had our favorite topics but that did not limit us to just reading about those interests. It really didn’t matter the subject, the excitement was just holding the book in your hands and reading it. So it made sense that a family that loved books as much as we did would open a bookstore in town. I remember the grand opening, it made the paper. I am in the photo of the article but yet I can’t find it. I know that I have it cut out some place but I cannot locate it. But I did find these photos of our bookstore.

The Book Nook

Washington Square

Rockingham, N.C.

And yes, that is me with the dark hair standing behind the counter with another employee. The last remnants of my ‘Erica Kane’ days.

We all grew up with a love of bookstores as well. Not just the Border’s and Barnes and Noble’s that are out there today but the old second hand musty smelling bookstores as well. Where there is this wonderful layer of dust all over an antique book with its yellowed pages and smells of age. Something straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.

Photos below are of our many books in our home. Of course I didn’t photograph all of them but here is just a sampling.



August 9th. is Book Appreciation Day so that got me thinking about the past, our bookstore and my absolute love of all books. We had the bookstore for a few years before we had to close it down. The town just didn’t support it enough. That is why all businesses go under. I can remember all the nice comments from people telling us that they wish that it was still open and how there is no other place in town to buy books and how much they missed it. I just wanted to tell them that if it meant that much to you then you should have supported it more.

This is my messy book corner. Stacks of outdoor garden books, tropical plant books and some of my cookbooks. My postcard rack is to the left of the photo. I also collect postcards.

In addition to selling books in our bookstore we also sold magazines, greeting cards, and gifts and collectibles. One year we even had a Santa Clause in the store around the holidays. Our bookstore was located in a prime location in the town square. It was a very charming store. My parents would let us shop in the store and not pay for any of it. I would sometimes go overboard though and my brother’s started calling me “The Book Nook Crook.”

The photo at bottom left is of one of our old Book Nook store bags. I have a stack of them. When I was plowing through one of my parents storage barns on their property in Georgia a few years ago I found them and brought them home with me.


Photo top right, my Nook sitting atop some of our books. It just looks so wrong. As the old Sesame Street song goes, “One of these things just doesn’t belong here………

I suppose these tablets are a good thing. Less trees to cut down, reduces clutter, more convenient,  etc. But as someone that loves books it makes me sad. I like holding a book in my hands, turning each page, looking at each photo and reading each chapter. I’m one of these people that take the time to read the index and the copyright and the publisher…….

I like seeing books all over my house, on tables, on shelves………

Here are some more of our books.


We have stacks of books all over our house like in the photo at left.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now we’ll all be carrying around our tablets like Counselor Deanna Troi from Star Trek, The Next Generation.


All that information crammed into some 8 x 5 inch tablet that we’ll be carrying around our starship someday like some futuristic t.v show or movie. (If you notice they don’t wear jewelry in the future either. In an interview they said that it is because humans are not as materialistic and have evolved in the future. Did you ever see Deanna Troi or Beverly Crusher wearing any? But yet they take the time to put on their make-up and fix their hair!)

I have to admit that I do like my Nook for reading novels. But when it comes to picture books then I want something big. Also my books don’t run out of batteries while I’m reading them and have to be recharged before I find out what happens to Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games.

A favorite thing that I like to do occasionally (especially on a stormy, rainy Florida day) is to take the day off and “blob out”, as my Kiwi friend Trish says, and do nothing but set up a comfy area on the sofa with pillows and blankets and surround myself with lots of my favorite books. I wear something comfortable that I would NEVER leave the house in. Then I just flip through book after book, reminiscing and remembering things that I’ve forgotten in them. Some of them I’ve read so much I know them by heart but that doesn’t matter. It’s like comfort food. Books ARE comforting to me. Then I fix something simple, yet comforting for dinner, then top the day off with one of my Barefoot Wines. O.K. TWO glasses of wine. Or thereabouts. 🙂 Then for the icing on the cake pop in a season of Monk, or Psyche, or Burn Notice, or Veronica Mars, or Star Trek (any of them), or my absolute favorite STAR WARS!!! OR, ANY ALFRED HITCHCOCK MOVIE!! Then my day is totally set! Life just doesn’t get any better than that! Books, movies and wine…….. and just me, myself and I.

But regardless I just wanted to take this time out to add to the appreciation of the day.

Books, Books, Books…………

As my Nook tablet says whenever I turn it on: Read Forever. I think I will!



July 21, 2012
Tragedy in Aurora

I woke up yesterday morning, July 20, 2012, to the tragic news of the shooting at a movie theater, Century 16, in Aurora, Colorado. I had the news on all day hearing of the horror and the eye witness accounts of the gunman, the 12 dead and the 58 wounded. 11 of the wounded are still in critical condition. If you were like me then you waited to hear the news conferences by the Aurora Police Chief Dan Oats and various other city officials including the Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper.

We waited to hear about just who could do something so horrible? Was it just one person or more than one? Most importantly we wanted to know why? Why? Why do this? Who could do such a horrible thing?

CNN featured one of the dead, a beautiful young woman Jessica Ghawi age 24, an aspiring sports journalist sitting in the theater waiting to watch the movie with her friend. As of this writing we don’t yet know the names of many of the dead. But as I was watching Anderson Cooper last night doing a great job of reporting, I noticed the CNN headline, Movie Theater Massacre. Movie Theater Massacre? I have to say that the headline bothers me. It sounds like some tabloid headline. Something we would see while waiting in line at the grocery store on one of those cheap tabloid magazines. To me, Tragedy in Aurora is just more appropriate. I guess that I just don’t want this tragedy to be reduced to some tabloid article. I don’t want us to forget about this tragedy. I want us to do something about this. I see this tragedy as a turning point for all of us here in America. How many more times does this have to happen? How many more people have to die before we start debating this issue? Now is the time to start the conversation about our lax gun laws. Do we really need assault weapons for sale here in our country? Should all this professional body armor be for sale so easily? Should we be allowed to buy 6,000 bullets at a time? From what I understand from the police reports the gunman sprayed a good 500 bullets all around the theater in a matter of just minutes! I mean, why buy so many bullets unless this is what you intend to do with them?

I’ve heard the arguments before from various pro-gun supporters. “If we start regulating the sale of guns and ammunition in our country then only the ‘bad’ guys will have all the weapons.” Well, I’ve got a news flash for you, the alleged killer was considered one of the “good” guys. He was an honor student from an upper middle class family. Working on his Doctorate in Neuroscience. Described as a smart guy, quiet. No criminal record. Everything he purchased he bought legally. So as far as we know he was never considered a threat to anyone before. But perhaps had the sale of all of this weaponry been monitored in some way then I would assume that some alarm bells may have gone off.

I just don’t understand how we can go to war with Iraq because we were led to believe that Sadaam Hussein had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and we were appalled by that, yet we allow our own fellow countrymen to possess ‘weapons of mass destruction’ under the guise of ‘Second Amendment Rights’? When our founding fathers put the ‘Second Amendment’ into our Constitution they were referring to a musket, not an AK-47. There was no police force back then and settlers had to defend themselves from wild animals, thieving drifters, warring Indian tribes……. But now we have a police force to protect us. Personally I am against gun ownership but I do recognize a person’s right to possess a gun in their home for protection. There are stories of home invasions where owning a gun did save lives. But there are many more stories of accidental deaths because there was a gun in the house.

The gun industry is counting on our short attention span with this shooting. Regulation to their industry means less money for them. In Canada they have just as many guns as we do but they have more regulation. They do have their occasional shootings but not to the extent that we have here. If a divorced man in Canada wants to buy a gun he has to get written permission from the ex-wife before he is allowed to buy one. Guns are to be kept safely locked away in cabinets in the homes. Also police officers in Canada make around $100,000.00 a year while our cops probably make around $26,000.00 to $45,000.00 a year.

It’s time to start the debate. I want to live in a safe country and not the ‘wild west’ where we all carry guns and have shoot-outs at the mall. I want to know that my government is doing its best to protect us from people being able to buy all those weapons and ammo and using them on us. Chris Rock once said let’s allow everyone to own all the guns they want, but let’s make bullets cost $5,000.00 each. I think he has the best solution. Maybe if they cost that much then people will think twice about pulling that trigger.

My condolences go out to the people of Aurora, Colorado. You’re going to be affected by this for a long time to come. But from what I have seen on t.v. about your lovely town and its people, it looks like a very nice place to live.


The Brady Center

I’ve added a link to The Brady Center to Prevent Violenceand I ask you to join the campaign. Jim Brady was appointed Assistant to the President and White House Press Secretary in January of 1981 by Ronald Reagan. He was shot on the same day as Reagan on March 30, 1981 by a mentally deranged man by the name of John Hinckley when he tried to assassinate our President. Jim suffered a serious head wound that left him partially paralyzed for life. James S. Brady and his wife, Sarah, have been tireless champions of sensible gun laws.

Now is the time.

Very Sincerely,



July 3, 2012

RIP Andy Griffith

Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor on

The Andy Griffith Show

I loved this show! The cast of characters made me laugh.

Sometimes I will still watch the show in repeats and I still laugh

just as much as I used to.

Andy Griffith was born on June 1, 1926 in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

I loved his liberal values, he created the ‘sheriff that didn’t carry a gun’.

He then went on to create the television show about it. Oh he and Barney

would break out the guns when there was real danger but that wasn’t often.

Andy used his brains and not bullets to keep the peace and to keep the town safe.

He did his best to try and get along with everyone, even those he disagreed with.

His show was a great example to all of us.

I loved all the characters and I’ve written about the show a few times in my past blog posts

I will miss him. He was 86 years old.



July 2, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Fireworks at the White House in Washington, D.C.

July 4, will be our Independence Day celebrations here in America, otherwise known as the 4th. of July. I wanted to write something “patriotic” in honor of our holiday but I decided that the best people to write anything patriotic was to use the words of our founding fathers. So here are some of my most favorite quotes from my favorite founding fathers and other American patriotic people of inspiration that I admire.

Some of these quotes are over 200 years old yet they apply to our current political and social climate.


Mark Twain

Although not a founding father I have admired him for many years.






My most favorite quote of Mark Twain’s. It’s so true too. The brave speak out first and suffer scorn in doing so. The brave pave the way, do all the work and suffer the consequences the most, the rest follow along once it’s safe, proclaiming their patriotism as being just as strong as the brave.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Autobiography of Mark Twain

My Mark Twain autobiography. It is 736 pages and is only Volume 1! There are 3 volumes. I am still getting through this one.

I’m glad his handwriting is as bad as mine. 🙂


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Here are some more of my favorite Mark Twain quotes:


“Prejudices are what fools use for reason.”

“Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it”

” Laws control the lesser man… Right conduct controls the greater one.”

“We have the best government that money can buy.”

“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man that can’t read them.”

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”

“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native criminal class except Congress.”

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Mark Twain


Benjamin Franklin
(My most favorite founding father).

One of the Founding Fathers of the United States.  A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.

WOW! What a resume!!


Now for my most favorite B.F. quotes:

“Make yourself sheep the wolves will eat you.”

“They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.”

“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.”

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made,
What’s a sundial in the shade?”

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

” It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”

“There was never a bad peace or a good war.”

“Be at war with your vices, at peace

with your neighbors, and let every

new year find you a better man.”

(I try, but Benjamin Franklin doesn’t know my neighborhood. ) 🙂

“If everyone is thinking alike, then no

one is thinking.”

Benjamin Franklin


Abraham Lincoln

(Our 16th. President of the United States)

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

“I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end…

I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left,

and that friend shall be down inside of me.”

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

                                 Abraham Lincoln


James Garfield

“Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress.  If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption.  If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature….

If the next centennial does not find us a great nation…. it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.”


James Garfield, the twentieth president of the United States, 1877


James Madison

“America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity.

That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.”

“And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

“Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.”

James Madison


John Adams

(He was George Washington’s Vice President)

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the

republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measure in opposition to each other.  This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

JOHN ADAMS, letter to Jonathan Jackson, Oct. 2, 1789

“Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.”

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.”

John Adams



Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams was an American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.  As a politician in the colonial Massachusetts, Adams was a leader of the movement that became the American Revolution, and was one of the architects of the principles of  American republicanism that shaped the political culture of the United States.  He was a second cousin to President John Adams.

“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.”

Samuel Adams


Thomas Paine

“Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”

“My mind is my own church.”

Thomas Paine


Although not a founding father I still wanted to include former President Bill Clinton to my list of favorites.  One da he will go down in history as the great President and human being that he is.  Most great people are never appreciated at the time.  Only years later when we step back and really take a look do we see the entire picture.

William Jefferson Clinton
(Our 42nd. President of the United States)

“We must teach our children to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons.”

“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”

Being president is like running a cemetery: you’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.”

–Bill Clinton


June 27, 2012

Tropical Storm Debby

Check out what Debby has been wreaking on us in Indian Shores, Florida!

You can see the wind blowing the palm trees.

I’ve been out at the condo for the whole of Tropical Storm Debby, see Lancaster Condo page.


NOTE: I think tougher names should be given these storms. I mean, Debby? Really? Who’s afraid of a Debby? It just sounds like some cheerleader is coming our way.

I came out here to secure the condo and get it ready for the next people checking in. It’s amazing that although it was just a tropical storm, conditions were pretty severe. Our back docks have been closed until they can be inspected to make sure they are safe. Our elevator isn’t working and hasn’t been for the past 3 days. We’re on the 3rd. floor, by the way. I’ve already made 4 trips to take loads down to my car. I had brought several projects out here with me to work on during the storm and now I am regretting it. Pieces of the roof next door to us have blown off and the bottom floor window had been blown out. Our building fared pretty well compared to other condos in our area. There was also a lot of flooding with trees down and debris strewn everywhere.

The ocean was spectacular to watch all those HUGE crashing waves! And the wind! I can’t even begin to tell you how strong those wind gusts were.

We only lost power for about a minute one night. Just long enough to mess up all the clocks in the condo that I now have to reset before I leave. But now that the storm has past we are back to blue skies with lots of beautiful sunshine. Just when it’s time for me to leave.

BUT, when it came time to coming out here and not knowing what to expect, weather wise, I was glad that I always keep with me a weather radio and a flashlight and always extra water. I have pictured here two of my weather radios. One I keep in my car and the other I keep in our “owner’s closet” here at the condo. The small one I purchased from L.L. Bean a few years ago. If the batteries go dead it even has a power generator hand crank. It also has a mini flashlight built in. Nice and small and perfect to keep in my car.

The larger radio is equipped with a television, releasable flashlight, a siren, a compass, movable lanterns, a thermostat, also various outlets that I can use to recharge other equipment.

My portable weather equipment.

When the power goes out these items are very necessary to help keep you informed.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To the left top, I keep here at the condo for our renters the emergency phone numbers from NOAA. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
To the right top, my small weather radio has a hand crank generator in case my batteries go dead.


Removable flashlight, and lanterns that can be rotated.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I also have a compass.

A good idea when a storm is on your way is to start saving water. Not just to drink but to wash with. For example. Fill your washing machine with water and when the basin is full, turn off the washer cycle and save the water to use to wash your hands or to clean things. We always need lots of water and you never know if you might lose your water in a storm.

The condo washing machine and dryer.

Also you can fill your bathtub up with water to save in case of emergencies.


                                                                                                                                                    You can also use things like buckets, pots and even save your milk carton to store extra drinking water. Use your imagination and use what you have. Always be prepared.


If you have double sinks you can fill one with water and use the other to wash with.
These are just a few ideas that you can use to help you in case you are ever faced with severe weather where you will need to survive on your own for awhile before help can reach you. The rule is that you need enough to survive a good 72 hours and that means saving plenty of water for yourself and your family.



June 4, 2012

Lauren’s Open House to commemorate her High School Graduation. Pictured here are Brodie and Lauren.


Gordon and Julie with Brodie and Lauren. Congratulations Lauren! Class of 2012!


Good luck at FSU in Tallahassee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Congratulations to the graduating class of Bloomingdale Senior High School 2012.



Florida Hurricane Season

Hurricane season begins June 1st., and ends November 30th here in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean. This is something that we live with here in Florida every year at this time. We just finished encountering Tropical Storm Beryl.

When we were living in Hawaii we lived right across the street from the beach in Iroqouis Point in Ewa Beach and although that is heaven in good weather, it is hell in bad. We had to evacuate for Hurricane Iniki.

Hurricane Iniki, Hawaii, 1992

I remember it well. Our very first hurricane evacuation. It was terrifying and exciting all at the same time. Coincidentally the devastation hit on September 11, 1992. I was 7 months pregnant with Brodie at the time. The military base where we lived closed and made us all leave for our own safety, of course. We had friends that lived high up in the hills near Pearl City where we stayed until the ‘all clear’ was given two days later and we were allowed to return home. Luckily we came back to no problems what-so-ever. Our home and yard were intact. Unfortunately for the island of Kauai, Hurricane Iniki turned its full force on them at the last minute. We were in its original path, living on the east coast of Oahu. One thing the Hawaiian locals are very prepared for is hurricanes. While the women make the preparations, the men go surfing. Great waves. At least they have a relaxed view of them anyway. They all have their ‘hurricane kits’ and supplies and their evacuation plans. We learned from them.

So when we moved here to Florida we were prepared for whatever Mother Nature threw our way. When we were living on MacDill Air Force Base from early to mid 2000’s, again surrounded by the ocean, MacDill is a peninsula. We were evacuated for a total of 3 hurricanes in one season! It got to be exhausting. I didn’t even bother to unpack our suitcases after the second evacuation! So when it came time to buying a house once Gordon retired from the Navy we made sure that we were far enough away from the ocean and the flood zones AND the evacuation routes.

I do however have to ride out to Indian Shores to secure the condo,

Lancaster Family Condo Link

for when we have a hurricane threat coming our way. It can be a scary process when there is a mandatory evacuation and the evacuation sirens are going off all around you. Mandatory evacuation actually isn’t mandatory, there is no law to say you have to leave. But it’s a good idea to LEAVE! When we evacuated for Hurricane Charley in 2004 that was quite an experience. We had our New Zealand friends Trish and Bob visiting us and had to get them off to the Tampa International Airport earlier than planned to get them out of harm’s way, then secure the condo, and then evacuate at literally the LAST MINUTE before the bridges were closed. Once the winds are over 45 MPH they close down the bridges. The winds can be so strong that they blow your car off the bridge. If you don’t make it out then you are stuck on your own to survive until it’s all over. So I highly recommend evacuating as soon as possible.


Our 2004 evacuation hurricanes that we experienced.

Hurricane Charley: August 9 – 15, 2004

Hurricane Frances: September 5, 2004

Hurricane Jean: September 25, 2004


I can remember driving across the Gandy Bridge on my way out to Indian Shores to prepare the condo for Hurricane Charley that was on its way and being the ONLY car headed TOWARD the beach, while the other side of the road was bumper to bumper with cars FLEEING the area. That’s an odd feeling let me tell you. That’s when I had my Issuzu Amigo with its partial top. Not the best vehicle to have in really bad weather.

Brodie when he was younger giving the thumbs up that we had survived Hurricane Frances.

Here Brodie is sitting in a chair in front of our “barricade” that the kids and I built when Hurricane Frances blew in the window at the condo. We were on our own as Gordon was working a skeleton shift on the base. We used a series of skim boards, boogie boards, the ironing board, the couch and chairs to hold that window shut. It was flapping open ready to blow right through the condo, the winds were that strong. It was only a category 1 at the time. Image if it had been stronger? We are proud to report that not one drop of water got in.

I think we all have our ‘hurricane evacuation stories’ here in Florida but one thing that we all know is that we do need to be ready and we do need to be prepared for the inevitable. So here are a few areas of advice that I hope I can help you with.

Never underestimate the power of these storms.

Know your hurricane evacuation routes and just follow the signs.

First and Foremost: Have an evacuation plan if you live in an evacuation or flood zone. You can find out if you do by looking in your phone book or online for that info. Next you need to have your important papers at the ready. For example Deeds to your home, all your insurance info, wills, birth certificates, etc. Any important papers that you may need. Paperwork is sometimes the most important items to grab in an instant.

Also think about important photo albums, wedding albums, baby books, school records. These things are irreplaceable so make sure you take them with you. The good thing about hurricanes is that we usually have plenty of warning. If you are basically prepared then you need only gather up those special things.

Picnic Baskets at the Ready

In my kitchen, high up on a shelf I keep several baskets at the ready. All I need do is grab them in case of emergency or when we go camping. In them are our basic supplies that we will need. It’s a good idea for you to do the same. That way all you need to do is to grab them and go.

I don’t have a top to this basket so I have used a tablecloth as a liner and wrapped all my supplies inside of it. Tied the knot to hold everything in.


A rule of thumb is that everyone must be able to survive on their own for a good 72 hours. So plan for that. Make sure you have plenty of bottled water, flash lights, batteries, lanterns, canned food, blankets, clothing, a good medicine kit, gasoline, emergency candles and plenty of matches and even a lighter, etc. We have lots of camping equipment, that includes a camp stove. So we have something with which we can cook on if worse comes to worse. Also if you have any kind of a grill, whether it be charcoal or propane make sure you have everything that you will need to cook your food. Eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches gets really old after awhile.

Whenever there is a hurricane on the way everyone seems to make a run on the grocery stores or commissary’s in this last minute mad dash. But if you are prepared then you only need to pick up is a few things. Most things you should keep on hand.

Here is a simple checklist of food items to always have in your pantry to either take with you when you evacuate, or to eat while hunkering down and enduring the storm. This is only a guide to get you started. You of course can add or subtract whatever you like.

Plenty of water and juices (One gallon of water per person, per day).

Tea bags (You can make sun tea if necessary, just make sure you have a large jar to make it in).

Instant coffee

Dried milk

Non-perishable foods such as peanut butter, Nutella, cans of soups, beans, canned fruit, tuna, etc.

Jams and jellies

Salt and pepper

Breads, cereals and crackers, trail mix bars

Dried fruits and nuts, raisins, prunes

Comfort food of cookies and chocolates and instant puddings

Don’t forget things like:

Paper plates, plastic silverware and cups

Aluminum foil

Plastic wrap

Non-stick cooking spray

Food baggies to store food

Basin for washing dishes, dish washing liquid

Plenty of hand wipes and paper towels

Trash bags

(If you have ever gone camping then you have an idea of what you will need to take with you).

Also consider taking with you some basic tools such as a wrench, screwdriver, knives, pliers……

It is also a good idea to have with you some extra CASH. Debit and credit card machines may be down because of power outages so cash will get you what you need.


A good resource guide for either evacuating or staying put and enduring any sort of emergency is a book called APOCALYPSE CHOW, How to Eat Well When the Power Goes Out by Jon Robertson with Robin Robertson.

I came across it a few years ago and it is such a nice guide and resource book on how to eat in style in cases of emergencies. It’s humorous,full of recipes and lots of good information. Check it out.


When all is said and done there is no reason why we shouldn’t just sit back and make the best of it. 🙂

The Florida Hurricane

-2 ounces amber rum

-1/4 cup passion fruit juice, or 1 tablespoon superfine sugar

-1/2 teaspoon grenadine

-juice of half a lime

-cherries and orange slice to garnish

-ice cubes

In a cocktail shaker mix the rum, passion fruit juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add the grenadine, and lime juice and stir to combine. Add the ice cubes and shake. Strain hurricane into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange and cherries. Yeild; 1 serving.


Water Spouts

I took these photos from the condo balcony in Indian Shores. What you are looking at are water spouts. Tornadoes on the water. I was in the condo when I noticed people running from the beach so I looked to see what they were running from when I saw these. Luckily everything was alright.


NOAA stands for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Here is our weather radio that is on at all times. It warns us about any storm whether mild or serious in our area. It also gives us warning to any sudden tornado threats. In addition to our hurricane warning plans we also have our tornado plans and when NOAA advises us to seek shelter then we do. We retreat to our family safe room. I grab the pugs and we shut ourselves in our laundry room. You want to retreat to the center of your home. Sometimes that is a hallway or in our case, our laundry room. Then you stay put until NOAA gives the all clear.

Good luck and may the force be with you!!! 🙂