Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Found 'em

Ok, Noreen, I took your advice and went searching this afternoon.  By car.  I'm such a great detective.  Happened to notice a TV van alongside the back of The Crystal Beach Hotel or Inn at Crystal Beach, whatever, can't remember the exact name.  So I parked and went into their lobby, faking like I was interested in their restaurant and looking for a take-out menu.  (As if anyone would've cared that I was looking for the Weather Channel's setup.....)

And yup, there it was/is.  Right on the back veranda, right on the beach, just the way it appears on camera (TV camera, that is.)

So here are your photos, of course minus Stephanie Abrams, Mike Bettes and the whole crew, because it was about 4PM and they shoot their live show from before dawn until 11AM.  (Wonder where they stay?  Hmmmmm....)

(Click photos to enlarge)
My "clue" that they were here (but I saw it from behind, not this angle)

And there it sits, just like on TV!

Seen from the beach where they did the "sand angels."

Outside eating area next to the veranda

Scenes of the City

Here are some outstanding scenes of my city, Chicago.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Weather Channel in Destin!

Wow!  I turned on TWC like I do most mornings (musta missed the news of this, though) and lo and behold there they are, Stephanie Abrams and Mike Bettes, broadcasting from the Emerald Coast! 

One of my Canadian snowbird friends, already returned to the North, emailed me asking why I didn't go down, photograph them, and put it on the blog.  Now why didn't I think of that?!

However, it's a good thing I searched the web first and found these photos, as I would never have been able to figure out what hotel or condominium deck they are shooting from....the beach goes for miles, so I could've walked myself to death searching.

So I'll just cleverly repost the photos they posted on Facebook.

(Click to enlarge photos)

Abrams and Bettes with Harbormaster Greg

Guess they went fishing the first day here...Destin does make this boast:

Bettes' grouper and Abrams' chocolate porgy (don't ask me...that's what it said on Facebook)

On Day 2, they set up before daybreak...

And start before the sun even rises....

Posing with the staff from Another Broken Egg, one of my regular breakfast places.  Guess they bring them breakfast before shooting.

Part of today's show, making snow, um, I mean sand angels.

I guess this week's show is focusing on spring at the beaches.  So we'll be seeing more of them.  Stay tuned for more.....

Which Is Healthier?


Multigrain vs. whole grain:  Which is healthier?  I'm trying to eat a healthy diet. Is multigrain the same thing as whole grain?  Which is the healthier choice?

Answer from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Multigrain and whole grain are not interchangeable terms. Whole grain means that all parts of the grain kernel — the bran, germ and endosperm — are used. In contrast, multigrain means that a food contains more than one type of grain; it doesn't tell you whether they're whole or refined grains, or a mix of both.

Whole-grain foods are a healthy choice because they contain nutrients, fiber and other healthy plant compounds found naturally in the grain. Look for products that list the first ingredient as "whole grain," "whole wheat" or "whole oats." Healthy adults should eat at least three 1-ounce equivalents of whole grains a day as part of a balanced diet.

(from Mayo Clinic's website)



(Reprinted post from Solo Traveler, one of my favorite blogs.)

Solo travel by flashpacking: cheap travel with a few perks.
Posted on March 29, 2010 - by Guest

I am pleased to introduce David Jedeikin as this week’s guest blogger. David Jedeikin is the author of Wander the Rainbow, an upcoming chronicle of a gay solo traveler on a seven month flashpacking trip around the world. You can follow him on Twitter where he is @wanderrainbow.

The fabulous hotel I stayed at in Bali for around $40 a night

If there’s one thing backpackers love to hate, it’s “flashpacking,” loosely defined as backpacking with a few frills. “It’s not a real experience,” “you won’t meet people,” “You won’t see the true [fill in the destination of your choice].” All untrue: It’s eminently possible to travel more comfortably than the backpacker norm and still garner incredible adventures. Here’s how:

1. Travel solo and hang with friends (and family)
This applies to everyone, not just flashpackers: if you have contacts or kin anywhere you’re going, make a point to look them up. In much of the world hospitality is highly prized, and friends and relatives may be eager to put you up. Assuming these folks have the space and the inclination, you can be assured of a decent place to sleep and possibly a great tour guide in an unfamiliar locale.

2. Travel Solo and Stay local
What if you don’t have cousins in Cape Town or buddies in Beijing? Staying at a Westin or Marriott isn’t the best-value alternative: international chains charge a hefty premium for predictability. But comfort can be had for a lot less at smaller midrange accommodations geared at local travelers. In expensive cities like Rome or Tokyo, sweet private rooms can be had for under $100 a night; in Bangkok, Bali, or smaller Indian centers $30 to $50 is the norm. Plus many hostels in Europe, Australia, and especially New Zealand offer private rooms for about $50 a night.

3. Scour the web before you travelsolo
The days of leafing through guidebooks or traipsing from guesthouse to hotel are mostly behind us; guidebook recommendations can date quickly, but online resources offer current reviews from fellow travelers. The best-known of these are TripAdvisor (hotels and guesthouses), and Hostelworld (hostels and other budget digs).

4. Gear up – but not too much
Portable electronics have never been cheaper: in addition to digital cameras are iPods (perfect for that just-right playlist atop Macchu Pichu), unlocked cellphones, and especially netbook computers. Internet caf├ęs can be handy – and they are everywhere – but there’s nothing like having a basic machine of your own for privacy and convenience.

Me with my netbook blogging

5. Socialize as you travel solo.
Private accommodations mean you’ll have to work a little harder to meet people – but not too much harder. If you’re staying in a hostel room you can still take advantage of group activities – beer-tasting nights in Belgium or a downstairs bar or dining room. If you identify with any subgroup – gay, Jewish, Rastafarian, role-playing gamer, whatever – by all means make the effort to connect with that crowd.

6. Mix it up
Vary your accommodations choices; the best part about having a little extra cash is flexibility: try a hostel room in one place, a guesthouse in another, a bed & breakfast somewhere else, even a fancier hotel if you snag a deal (hint: off season is best).

7. Flex your points
If you’re flashpacking you’ve probably traveled some already. This is a great time to use those frequent flyer miles: alliances such as Star Alliance and OneWorld offer great value-for-miles awards on long-haul, multi-destination trips; for the equivalent of a simple round-trip to Europe you can fly a half-dozen or more (non round-trip) segments. The rules can be a bit involved and there’s some advance planning required – but most of these awards allow date changes with no extra charge. Some award categories even offer business class for not a whole lot extra.

Comfort on a budget – now that’s what flashpacking’s *really* about.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

Background - Palm Sunday

In fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 62:11 & Zechariah 9:9), Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The crowds lined the street shouting "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." (Psalm 118:25-26) They placed palm branches and robes in front of Jesus. This was particularly disturbing to the religious leaders who were jealous of Jesus. They demanded that Jesus silence the crowd, but he responded that even if the crowd were silent, the stones would cry out.

The events of the next week would forever change the world. Jesus entered Jerusalem and the crowd welcomed him as a king. By the end of the week they were demanding his death. His followers abandoned him in fear. None of his close followers had really understood the events of Palm Sunday and Holy Week until after Jesus returned. They had all expected Jesus to be an earthly king, but God had given them something so much better - an open door into a Kingdom that would never end.

Palm Sunday, in the Christian calendar is the Sunday before Easter, sixth and last Sunday in Lent, and the first day of Holy Week. Palm Sunday 2010 is celebrated on March 28. The other important days of Holy Week include:

Palm Sunday - Jesus enters Jerusalem.

Maundy Thursday - The Last Supper and betrayal.

Good Friday - The arrest, trial, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus.

Easter Sunday - The day Jesus rose from the grave.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What is it about Mr. Darcy?

This is a repost from Solo Traveler, a blog I read.  If you'd like to comment on it, as the auther asks at the end, please go to:

Posted on March 26, 2010 - by Janice

Travel Solo to Bath: What is it about Mr. Darcy?

Janice at The Jane Austen Centre Tea Room

To travel solo to Bath, England is to wander into many centuries of the spa experience from Roman times to modern with the Thermae Bath Spa. But there’s much more. There is the beautiful Pulteney Bridge, one of only four in the world with shops along the full span on both sides, fabulous shopping on the high street for current fashionistas, the Royal Crescent and, of course, Jane Austen.

This city rose to prominence in the 18th century and was made a World Heritage Site in 1987. I can’t help but think that Jane Austen, the continued popularity of her novels and especially her enigmatic Mr. Darcy, had a lot to do with it.

As I travel solo I often hold internal debates.

This time I debated Mr. Darcy. What is it about him that attracts the women so. Yes, Colin Firth is fine to look at, but the sullen nature of the Darcy character is more than I can bear. Am I alone in this opinion?

According to some reading I’ve done, Mr. Darcy is not only loved for the character we know but also as he shows himself in other personas and time frames. He is Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind and Big in Sex in the City. How can I be the only one who objects to these men. I won’t deny that they have a certain sex appeal but I find the entire package to be more repelling than compelling.

And yet, I went to the Jane Austen Centre and thoroughly enjoyed the introductory presentation and seeing the costumes that had been used over the years in various renditions of Austen’s stories. I saw the portrait of Darcy (Colin Firth) on the wall and smiled. There was something familiar and warm about it. And, I must confess, I think the warmth I felt had more to do with a certain sensibility (no prejudice against Pride) than the fact that I had found a warm shelter from the cold rain outside.

My trip to Bath highlighted my ambivalence towards Mr. Darcy and I’d like to learn what the women readers think. Do you find the Darcy character attractive? And, whether you do or don’t, why?

 My comment:  I, myself, used to be attracted to that type, and still can be, until I remind myself that most tall, dark, handsomely brooding and quiet men I've known were much different than I’d thought. Often the “still waters” did not run deep, if in fact, they ran at all. Or they were nursing some deep hurt/anger/bitterness with no sign of letting it go any time soon. In my humble opinion, some women are drawn to those strong, mysteriously quiet types, because they can ascribe to them the characteristics they would like them to have. If someone isn’t real forthcoming in telling you who he really is, you can just imagine the best. (It’s mostly in fiction that some man is dark and mysterious and shy and quiet until he gets to know you, and then, lo and behold, he emerges smiling and happy, an open book, spilling forth his deepest feelings and showering you with love and outward signs of affection, never again to take up the brooding persona.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Florida House

I feel like a food critic with my restaurant reviews. 

I did find a new one this morning and thought I'd post it for all of my Canadian snowbird friends (and U.S.) as most of them are back up north now.  We have only a few decent breakfast places that I have found so far -- three locations for Another Broken Egg, two for the Donut Hole, and then down in Seaside, The Great Southern Cafe with their famous Grits a Ya Ya -- so I am always asking people if they know any good breakfast places.  Usually they come up with these same ones and nothing else.

But I stopped into The Florida House this morning, a cute little red-painted, flower-boxed eatery along #98. It's right next to AJ's, a popular casual seafood place which hosts live bands and is a favorite for snowbirds when they are here, as well as the young during Spring Break.

To my delight, it has an inviting interior, tables and comfy booths, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.  And they have a good selection.  Breakfasts range from the usual bacon and egg dishes, to omelets, specialty egg dishes, French toast, pancakes made with almost whatever you want, Benedicts and fruit, yogurt and granola.  Lunches offer appetizers (try the fried artichoke hearts) to soups and salads, entrees of fish (grouper, salmon, crab, shrimp), turkey, chicken, and meatloat to burger and sandwich platters.  And dinners offer their own different appetizers (my favorite being coconut shrimp) with soups and salads and a good variety of entrees, a few of which are Baked Stuffed Shrimp, Pan-Seared Grouper, Beer-Battered Fish and Chips, Salmon, New York Strip Steak, Filet Mignon,. Seafood Fra Diavlo, Surf and Turf, Chicken Marsala, Chicken Mediterranean, Tortellini Carbonara and Alfredo Cajun.  More children's choices, too, than just hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken nuggets.

Take a look and click to enlarge photos, if you wish:

Front door


Sitting at my booth (taking photos)

Cheery flowers inside and out with little cafe curtains

So there you have it.  A new eatery in Destin, sure to become a popular place, not even "officially" open yet, but serving the public until the Grand Opening soon.  I'll give it two thumbs up (because, um, that's how many I have.) 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Just another beautiful evening in paradise........

(Yeah, now it's paradise....LOL!)

Excuse the was taken through the screened porch.

P.S. Eat, Pray, Love

Just read that in 2008, Time magazine named Gilbert one of the most influential people in the world.  If you'd like to know more about her, her website is

Haven't been to it myself, but thought I'd include it.

(If anyone finds a photo of her husband, Felipe, I'd love to see it!)

Eat, Pray, Love movie-to-come

'Eat, Pray, Love': Delicious Details About the Movie
By Amber James Posted Mar 23rd 2010 04:10PM  (reposted from

The trailer suggests that the movie will offer a lot more backstory than the book, where Gilbert's ex-husband and former lover are discussed only in flashback. The film was also shot in exotic locals, so the gorgeous scenery will definitely set the movie apart from the book.

Roberts admits the role "was quite a huge undertaking. It was a little bit daunting, dragging three little kids around the world, but well worth it." (via Women's Wear Daily.)

"I think that [Gilbert] just showed so much courage and humor. I just felt an incredible sense of need to accomplish the task on a great level. Ryan Murphy, who adapted the screenplay and was our director, was incredible."

"It was really like the acting Olympics. It's been a long time since I've had a full-time acting job. I am really glad that I made the decision to go off and do that movie. I hope that Liz [Gilbert] really likes it more than anything. She's a really interesting woman. I'm pretty fascinated by her, and I think a lot of people relate to her. So that's the greatest challenge [with] a book that's so well-known: You want people to see the movie and have that same sense of interest and comfort that they got from reading the book," Roberts continued.

Gilbert gushed about the new film on her Web site. "There is something surreal about the whole experience, but then again, there has been something surreal about 'Eat, Pray, Love' from the beginning. I have never entirely understood the rocket-like trajectory of that book, and so -- with the movie as with all of it -- I stand back, amazed, watching it all unfold and wondering at this strange turn of destiny."

Of course, readers may already know the big spoiler. In the book, Gilbert falls for an older Brazilian man, Felipe (Javier Bardem). The story ends there, but their love lives on. We can expect a sequel.

(My note:  And if you've read Committed:  A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage by Gilbert, you know the interesting dilemma that led to Felipe's and her eventual marriage!)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Book versus the Movie

Since offering my opinion on this topic not too many posts ago, usually liking the movie over the book, I  learned some exciting news at the theater last night (in the preview trailers before seeing both Alice in Wonderland in 3D and Bounty Hunter...the former very entertaining and fun in 3D, the latter fairly lame, but sometimes ya just gotta go for the light stuff.)

The exciting news is that one of my favorite books, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert will be out as a film this summer!  Julia Roberts plays her ("her" being Elizabeth Gilbert, as the book is really autobiographical.)  Not my first choice.  I think I might have preferred Gwyneth Paltrow.  It will be good to see Javier Bardem in a role that might help fade from my memory his sinister No Country for Old Men role.  Scared the bejesus outta me.

But I am looking forward to comparing it to the book.  We might have a winner in the book this time, but that remains to be seen.....

And the movie trailer:

Sailing to the Mediterranean

And by that, I mean I'm slowly experimenting with more Mediterranean dishes, as I posted what seems like a year ago.....

So I'm "sailing" there rather than "flying" will take some time.  But I am cooking more.  And I'm so proud of my little creation that I thought I'd share it with you. 

I now make my own version of guacamole (stop snickering over there...anything not ordered in or cooked from frozen is a step up for me.)  I'll even tell you what I put in it, although I can only estimate amounts (hey, I think that's what a real cook would say!  Wow!)

Two ripe Hass (or is it Haas?) avocados
Two packages of prechopped tomatoes (sold at the Publix, so I can't tell you how many ounces)
Maybe a sixth of a package of prechopped red onion  (ditto)
A whole lotta fresh cilantro chopped
Half a small lime's juice
Maybe a T. of cumin (might be a bit less....I just shake it in)

Mash it all together and it is so fresh and yummy!  But don't eat it with chips....just toast some pumpernickle bread and spread it on.  And you have a major healthy, what, open-face sandwich?  Snack?  Or dip some Triscuits in it.  By adding all of the chopped tomatoes, you really add volume, so the calorie count isn't bad, either.  And hey, it's the good kind of fat....monosaturated!

And it is that healthy fat that links it to my Mediterranean venture.  (What a segue!)

My Favorite TV Commercials

I have many faults, but one of them is not doing the "Oh, I'm soooo not into television....I don't do the couch potato thing" thing.  As if people who enjoy television don't also enjoy being active.  Or using their minds.

Now, some people truly aren't television watchers.  But you know the ones I'm talking about:  The "Oh, I am so above the rest of you who waste your precious earth moments sitting staring at a rectangle" people.  As if anyone who likes television only watches reality shows, The Bachelor, and inane sit coms.  (Oh oh, now I'm sounding judgmental, aren't I?  And not all sit coms are created equal, let me admit right now.)

Anyway, I love film and for all of its aspects, not for merely a good story or escapism.  So I will watch movies on TV all the time (not Lifetime stuff....real movies....judgmental again.)  I also like smart sit coms like the unfortunately now-defunct Sex and the City on HBO.  And let me add that My So-Called Life of long ago was the only show to date (sorry, Room 222) that depicted high school true to life (and I should know, since I spent my entire pre-retirement years teaching there.)  It presented timely issues and made the audience think.   In addition, I sometimes watch the Weather Channel as if it were a movie, some fascinating recounts of disasters and important information for viewers regarding safety in "what if" situations.

I depend upon CNN to keep me up to date (sorry, conservative Fox viewers....) and am glued to the educational programs that have been created either in specials (HBO is excellent at this) or on channels such as A&E or the History Channel.  And hey, I never would've become interested in cooking, which I just didn't do in my married life or while raising my poor little ravioli-out-of-the-can son, had it not been for the Food Network.  Thanks to Rachel Ray, Paula Dean and The Barefoot Contessa (plus retired, unstressed days and rested body), I now have started a like affair with the activity.

That said, let's get back to the real subject of this post, which is television commercials.  Most stink and are annoyingly too loud.  (Isn't some congressman/woman sponsoring some bill to outlaw that devious automatic volume-raising?)

I have to admit, I do sometimes get my daily quota of laughter from television commercials.  Others I think are either so touching (they really know how to manipulate us, don't they?) or clever, that I am impressed! ( A college sorority sister of mine wrote commercials for a living and ascended through the ranks way back when to head up Leo Burnett in Chicago.  She was always so creative and I really admired that.  Digression, digression....)

So here are a couple of my favorite commercials.  Have you seen them?

The Betty White Snickers Commercial

The Geico Pothole Commercial

and as acted out by a five year old:

I can just see my little granddaughter and grandson acting like these kids do....he watches and copies her and laughs at her "stuff."  :)  And sorry, they didn't offer a screen size small enough to entirely fit onto my blog with this commercial.....

Great Views of Sandestin

I've posted my own shots of this Panhandle area previously, including lots of photos of the resort area I'm located in this winter, Sandestin.

But I've just recently come across some aerial and other views, so thought I'd include them, too.  I'm staying Bayside at Sandestin this year in the little enclave called Bayou Village.  Next year, I'm staying on the beach.

Bayside at Sandestin

Bayou Village

Golf at Sandestin

Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin

Beachside Pool

Beachside Pool (from a friend's condo)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Grand Boulevard

Grand Boulevard is a shopping, dining village adjacent to Sandestin, along the Emerald Coast Parkway.  It is where I grocery shop at Publix, and I can easily ride my bike here in 10 minutes or so if I want to pick up a few things and take them home in my bike bag.

(Click photos to enlarge)

Favorite Ice Cream Shop

Upscale, yummy restaurant adjoining the clothier....


Even the parking lot is pretty!

Spring Has Sprung.....Some More

(Click to enlarge)

I included this one just because I think the fountain and Spanish-style townhouses are very pretty.

And this one because the biking is so lovely in Sandestin.

Just one of the ponds on the resort.....

I love the mix of "Northern" greenery alongside the many palm trees....

Even the grass is greening up now!

Never a shortage of pretty places to sit and meditate.
Even the main road, Emerald Coast Parkway (#98) is beautiful....enlarge this one for sure!