Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sun, Seafood, Sweets,Swimming, Sunsets

(Disclaimer: This is a little lengthy, so if you don't have time to read it, I certainly understand!)
As the temperatures in Indiana began to plummet to below O levels, I was fortunate enough to fly to sunny Florida to spend some time in the sun! I had the flu a few days before we left, so this was a very welcome respite.

My cousin, Nadine, has a condo in Bradenton, and so sister Lou and I were invited to spend this time with her. Her sister Carol was with us for a few days. Above is the courtyard for the condos; Nadine's condo was second from the end in the right hand corner of this picture. The pool was just to the left of the picture.

We arrived late on Sunday evening (the 6th); the next few days were cool (for Florida!) but still mostly in the high 50's and low to mid 60's during the day. Monday evening we went to the Oyster Bar for dinner with some friends in the condo next to ours--Byron and Beaetta, and Darlene (who was a neighbor of mine when we were growing up). Then we went to visit some friends who have a trailer there, Lana and her husband. Lana also grew up in Archbold.

Lou, Me, Betti, Carol, Nadine, Darlene

Tuesday we had supper at "Betti's Cafe"--a sister of Carol and Nadine; she and her husband John have a beautiful condo in Sun City Center. We had a great meal and a fun visit there.

We had supper Wednesday night at a very unique little restaurant. It is called "Jose's Real Cuban Food". It has only a few tables and some stools along the bar. We wanted to check this one out because it is going to be featured on "Deli's, Dives and Diners" on TV. They were going to be taping the program on Feb. 17th, the day we left. It was really good food and a unique atmosphere.

By now you have probably figured out that our main entertainment was food! This was called "Sonny's Real Pit BBQ". I had sliced brisket that was really good. Even better, we went for the "early bird" meal and got a great senior discount.

We had breakfast at this really cute Breakfast House Friday morning. It's in an actual house, and they have a real chef that does the cooking. Everything was not only delicious but presented beautifully.

These were called Tropical Pancakes (I think); I don't know if you can tell from the picture but they had a ring of pineapple baked into them like a wheel in the center. It also had macadamia nuts. Nadine allowed us all to taste them--yummy!

I had never had Eggs Benedict so that was my entree. It has hollandaise sauce on top and some very good home fried potatoes on the side.

This was our breakfast group. On the right is another cousin (by marriage), Carolyn. After breakfast we drove through downtown Sarasota and stopped at the Whole Food Store. It was HUGE! It even had it's own parking garage, and had every food imaginable.

Saturday for lunch we went to "Peaches". There were 7 or us cousins that were there in that same area, and we all got together for lunch. Then we went to cousin Ruth's trailer, as I had never seen it, and we had dessert there.

Sunday was probably the most interesting day for me. We went to church Sunday morning on the "Chapel on a Boat". It was a very pretty chapel inside. The pastor was kind of young, but had a good message. After the service we had time to go out on the deck and enjoy the sunshine.

(An inside view of the chapel)

There were eight of us that went to church together--the 4 from our condo, our 3 neighbors, and Carolyn.

We went to the Oyster Bar for lunch. Lou had her Valentine's dinner, as she had the special--lobster stuffed with crab meat and even some fried shrimp as well. They have an appetizer called "onion straws" which are very, very thin fried onions. We all shared some!

Sunday evening we went to the church that Carolyn normally attends. They had a special singing group, The Sarasota area Mennonite Men's Choir. We got there 30 minutes before it started and just barely got seats. I think there were probably about 1200 people there. There was also a string quartet made up of 4 sisters; they played before the concert started, during the offertory, and accompanied a couple of the men's songs. They were so good! Two of them were twins who are juniors in high school. They were amazing. The men's choir was also excellent.

Monday evening we went to a buffet at "Sweet Tomato". They have all kinds of salad, soups, potatoes and desserts. Once again, I ate just a little more than I should have.

Tuesday night we went to Anna Maria Island and ate at the "Sandbar" restaurant. This is a view of the restaurant from the beach. We got there before our reservation so went to the beach.

After our dinner we went back out to the beach and watched the sunset. Pictures never seem to really capture the beauty of things like this.

Wednesday night we again went to the Island (Holmes Beach) and ate at this little "shack" called "Skinny's". It's not real big and we ate outside. But they had wonderful hamburgers, and after having seafood several times, it was a welcome treat.

Of course, after our burgers, we went out to the beach and again watched the sunset. It was a beautiful evening, with very little breeze and was very relaxing.

NOW, what did we do besides eat? Went for walks, laid out by the pool and swam, read books, watched some TV, visited a lot, pretty much just rested and relaxed. After the first few days, and one sort of rainy day, it cleared up and was beautiful weather the rest of the time--mostly low 70's.

I would not be telling the whole story, if I didn't mention "Sweetberries". It is a frozen custard place that has soft ice cream and concretes, and I think we were there at least 3 times. I know one time we made it our supper stop and also had a sandwich.

What I can't seem to figure out is, why wasn't I able to stay on my diet and lose a little weight? What a mystery!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Too Much Chocolate?

Can you get too much of a good thing? I believe that we came close to going over the line on this one!

We were invited to a fund-raiser for a Christian Youth Center in Hicksville, Ohio. One of the men in our church is a regional Youth For Christ leader in that area. I thought it sounded REALLY interesting, so I talked my hubby into going with me.

It was advertised as a "sit-down meal" of chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and they called it "A Chocolate Chalet". I couldn't quite imagine a whole meal with chocolate in every course--thus my interest in going.(you can enlarge the invitation on the right to see that it does say sit-down meal.)

When we arrived they greeted us, had us sign up for a grand prize drawing, and actually had a coat-check for our coats. It started with hors-d'oeuvres; there were chocolate candies, what looked like a cheese ball but was frosting with mini chocolate chips to put on graham crackers, chocolate-covered pretzels,etc.

Of course, there was also a chocolate fountain with all kinds of things to dip--strawberries, pineapple, angel food cake pieces, etc.

THEN it was time for the sit-down meal. The tables (and chairs) were beautifully decorated. We were served by some of the boys who go to the youth center--with some adult supervision of course. But they did a great job, and looked great in their chef hats.

The first course was the two pieces of candy on the plate. I also wanted you to see how pretty the place settings were.

The second course was a little piece of what I think was chocolate cheese cake and this little mouse. He was very cute. I'm sorry I didn't get a good picture of him. I shared Lynn's and brought mine home, but the pictures I took here were blurry.

The third course was from "dairi-d-lite" and I thought at first it was ice cream, with a long crispy cookie. I think maybe it was like a sherbert or chocolate ice.

The last course was a beautiful (and delicious) chocolate cake. They brought a cake to each table and we cut our own pieces. Surprisingly, one of the men actually did the honors of cutting the cake.

Now, let me say, it was all very wonderful. But was it a meal? It certainly wasn't what I was anticipating. What was I thinking? I guess my first clue should have been that it started at 7:30pm but then I know sometimes people eat late. I love chocolate, and enjoyed it all. My hubby got a "chocolate headache" and ate a sandwich when we got home.

I kept thinking that there is a Bible verse that says something about doing all things in moderation, and not to excess. (I couldn't figure out where it is so maybe I have it wrong). However, I believe this was just a LITTLE bit on the side of excess when it comes to chocolate. Oh yes! As a final touch, they sent us each home with a piece of "Debrand's" chocolate in a cute little box!

Have I had my chocolate fix to last me for a while? Probably not!