Animal Kingdom Safari

We took a break and went to the Animal Kingdom at Disney World to make use of our annual passes. Our parking space was within easy walking distance of the entrance so we were lucky in that regard. We walked along the shady paths toward Africa.

Animal Kingdom

After stopping at Starbucks for some snacks to refuel our energy, we headed onto the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. No wait in the line, which we also saw later at Expedition Everest. The park is so spread out that it didn’t seem terribly crowded. We got front row seats in our safari vehicle.

   

The animals were strolling about or lazing in the heat. We viewed quite a few as you can see from these photos.

           

We lunched in Dinoland at a fast food place where we could sit indoors and enjoy the air-conditioning. On our way out, we browsed in the shops and then headed home tired but happy.

   

 

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Cranes Roost Park

Cranes Roost Park

This past weekend, we went for a stroll around the lake at Cranes Roost Park located in Altamonte Springs, FL. This one-mile paved walkway is shaded by large trees while the boardwalks are mostly in the sun. Numerous benches provide seating to people watch or gaze at the lake. This 45-acre park also has an amphitheater and a plaza with a water fountain.

Cranes Roost Park     

We spotted turtles, ducks and birds as we meandered along. The azaleas were in bloom, adding bright splashes of color against the green landscape.

   

At Café Murano, we picked up a fresh baked pizza to go for lunch. It had a thin crispy crust just as we like it with garlic and mushrooms for our custom toppings. Inside, a live band played for Sunday brunch. This restaurant is definitely worth a repeat visit.

        

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Did you miss my guest posts? If so, check these out:

“Writing about Real Places”
Guest Post on Cozy Florida

Author Interview with Nancy J. Cohen
Guest post at Eat my News 

“How to Make an Audiobook”
Guest post at Hallard Press Gazette 

“True Life Experiences in Fiction”
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Lake Lily Farmer’s Market

Visit the farmer’s market held on Sundays from 9am to 2pm in Maitland around Lake Lily. This delightful five-acre park, located at 701 Lake Lily Dr in Maitland, FL, has a trail around the lake, a short boardwalk, abundant wildlife, a playground and gazebo, plus a historical house that you can tour.

             

After our stroll around the lake, we examined the booths with wares on display. I bought an almond croissant at a bakery stand and these vegetables at a great price by the produce booth.

I wrote about the Waterhouse Museum on a previous blog. Built in 1884 for carpenter William H. Waterhouse, the Waterhouse Residence Museum at 820 Lake Lily Drive in Maitland, FL is available to the public for a peek into the late Victorian era. It’s a fascinating place to tour.

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Comfort Food

Home cooking can get tiresome under forced isolation, but not with easy-to-make comfort foods. I’ve been rummaging in the kitchen of our new house trying to find where I’ve put things while preparing meals. Maybe you can find inspiration in some of these dishes that have been on our dinner table in the past week.

We had the kids over for brunch last weekend. I made this Zucchini Biscuit Bake with the recipe from my cookbook, although I added fresh mushrooms this time. I’d also served a Costco quiche, plus thin bagels with cream cheese. Dessert was peach cobbler.

Zucchini Biscuit Bake  Peach Cobbler

Because we’d cut up too many zucchini and onions, I put some aside and made this stir-fry dish for dinner. Sliced hot dogs became the go-to protein addition.

Zucchini Stir Fry

Once those leftovers were gone, the next order was to use the multitude of strawberries we picked before they spoiled. So I made my first strawberry bread using a recipe I found on Pinterest.

Strawberry Bread

Next dinner I made these Swedish meatballs with white rice for dinner, accompanied by a premade salad. If there’s any gravy left, I freeze it to use in Shepherd’s Pie. I’ll share this recipe with you.

Swedish Meatballs

 

Swedish Meatballs

Ingredients

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 egg, beaten
tsp. garlic powder
1 cup finely chopped onions, divided
cup dry bread crumbs
12 oz. bottle chili sauce
18 oz. jar grape jelly
15 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 cup sweet Marsala wine

Directions

Make meatballs: Mix ground beef with beaten egg, garlic powder, ½ cup chopped onions, and bread crumbs. Form into small balls. Set aside. (Or use frozen turkey meatballs instead of making them from scratch).

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, blend together chili sauce, grape jelly, and tomato sauce until jelly is melted. Toss in remaining onions and add wine. When mixture is bubbly, add meatballs to pot. Stir gently to coat with sauce.

Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Periodically lift lid, being careful of steam, and stir. Cook for 1 hour on low heat (or ½ hour if using frozen meatballs). Serve over cooked rice as an entrée or by itself as a party appetizer.

These recipes and more can be found in A Bad Hair Day Cookbook – Order Your Copy Now

What have you made in the kitchen lately? And no, “a mess” isn’t the right answer.

 

 

Oak Haven Farms

We took a break from isolation to visit Oak Haven Farms & Winery to pick our own strawberries and roast hot dogs over a fire. It was a fun excursion, about a forty-minute ride from our new house. We parked in the dirt field then poked our heads inside the gift shop, café and wine tasting room. A staff member told us to go out in the field and someone would give us a crate to fill with fresh picked berries.

Sorrento Florida    Oak Haven Farm

We stooped to pluck the strawberries off the stems. When tired of bending, we gave up and headed into the shop to have our bounty weighed so we could pay.

u-pick strawberries    Nancy in field    fresh-picked strawberries

Then we bought hot dogs that came with rolls and a forked tool. We wove the meats onto the tines and went outdoors to cook the hot dogs in an open fire. I loved the charred taste.

  roasting hot dogs    charred hot dog

Then we went back inside to order a strawberry shortcake with whipped cream for dessert. It was a treat and enough for two to split.

We skipped the wine tasting that cost extra as we are not fond of fruit wines or the Florida grape varietal. But if you’re interested, you can indulge.

   

If you wish to visit, check online to see their schedule first. Strawberry season is limited.
Oak Haven Farms, 32430 Avington Rd, Sorrento, FL 32776 or http://www.berriesandwines.com/

Excursion to Oak Haven Farms #Florida #strawberries Click To Tweet

I’m looking forward to warmer weather so we can get out more and explore the many sights of Central Florida. Suggestions are welcome!

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Orlando Explorer

Our most recent visit to Orlando had us visiting Epcot for the Festival of the Arts. I tasted the mushroom risotto at the Masterpiece Kitchen around World Showcase but held off eating more until we went to the Morocco café for a vegetarian platter with hummus and more.
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At Disney Springs another day, I indulged in a root beer float at Ghiradelli. We enjoyed the ambiance as we strolled through the marketplaces and past numerous restaurants. Our adventures continued at historic Winter Garden as we strolled downtown. The main street still has its old-time charm, while a brewery hall attracts a young crowd with several fast-food eating choices. Here’s a peek at the lobby of an earlier era Edgewater Hotel and an adjacent ice cream shop.
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We took walks at Disney’s Riverside and Boardwalk resorts, and gained a couple of extra pounds from dining out the entire weekend. Now we’re home, and we brought a cold along with us as a souvenir.
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Downton Abbey Exhibition

The Downton Abbey Exhibition is currently at City Place in West Palm Beach. We went last weekend to view the scenes and costumes from one of our favorite period piece shows. The exhibit is housed in a former Macy’s location. The restrooms are upstairs, and it’s sad to see how empty the cavernous halls were with even some original signage remaining.
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Back downstairs, we entered to view a short introductory film about the beloved series. The next room had profiles of each character, along with some of their detailed artifacts such as handwritten letters that made it all seem real. You could read about their duties and roles in society at the time, as well as many of the social and political issues dominating the scene.
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Murals along the walls were fun as they gave a larger than life sense of being there.
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I liked viewing the sets the best. It felt as though we were in a historic mansion getting a glimpse into the people’s lives there. Going into a hallway reminiscent of the TV show, we first entered rooms representing the downstairs sections. Imagine the hustle and bustle in the kitchen where the cook and other servants prepared several meals a day.
 
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We saw the servants’ hall where they took their meals and where the bell board was located.
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Then we viewed Lady Mary’s bedroom. Look at this old hairstyling guide. Marla, my hairstylist sleuth, would get a kick out of it. Mary’s dressing table is dimly lit.
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The library consists of projections on three walls surrounding a series of benches. As you sit there, various scenes come to life on screen. Again, you feel as though you’re in the story.
I love seeing costumes, and these were no exception. Which ones would you choose if you could pick from them?
 
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Accessories were included. Here’s a selection of hats, gloves, and jewelry that were necessary to complete your ensemble.
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There were a number of bridal ensembles, complete with beaded veils and embellishments that a real bride could have worn. The detail was amazing.
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Then we come to the dining room. I like to imagine myself sitting there and being served. Note the number of wine glasses and utensils. My mother used to have tiny salt cellars with silver spoons like here. It must have been a tediously long evening with so many courses and even more rules to follow.
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It took us about an hour total to go through each area, ending up in the gift shop, of course. Go to http://DowntonExhibition.com for more information. Use code SHARE5 during check-out for $5 off tickets. Offer valid through January 15, 2019. Or try code FRESH5 if that one doesn’t work. Senior discount available too. If driving the Hibiscus Garage is nearby. The exhibit is at 575 S. Rosemary Avenue in West Palm Beach. Rosemary is closed off due to construction so you have to go around. Take I-95 or the Turnpike to Okeechobee Blvd and head east. You’ll see City Place on the left.
Reviewing the scenes and characters will make you ready for Downton Abbey: The Movie!
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Other period favorites of mine on TV are Poldark and Outlander. How about you?
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Christmas Day in Disney Springs

On Christmas Day, we saw the Aquaman movie at Disney Springs, followed the Christmas Tree Trail, and ate dinner at the House of Blues. It was a magical day. Here are some photos:
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House of Blues
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We celebrated New Year’s Eve with dinner at Buca di Beppo in Davie.
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Our Florida weather continues to be mild, so we are enjoying the parks.
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Check out my personal goal-setting guidelines for this year and enter our Booklover’s Bench contest for a $25 Amazon/BN gift card while there: https://bookloversbench.com/lets-talk-with-nancy-j-cohen-29/

Further Adventures in Orlando

Happy New Year! Time is moving on, so let me tell you about our latest adventures in Orlando over Christmas. We took a stroll at The Mall at Millenia that was nicely decorated for the holidays.
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Dinner included an evening at Bosphorus Turkish Cuisine. We began with their hollow lava bread and hummus appetizer. I really liked the zucchini patties served with yogurt. I could eat this savory dish for an entire meal. The appetizer includes three huge pancakes, so be prepared to share. I didn’t care so much for the falafel ones. My husband had the lamb shish-kabob for his entrée, and I had moussaka. I always like this eggplant dish.
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I’d wanted to explore the Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens in Kissimmee. It’s mostly a retail store with a café and tasting bar. Although they advertise tours and a botanical garden, these don’t really exist. We each enjoyed a turkey sandwich along with our wine tasting. I liked the dry blueberry, the slightly sweet peach, and the cranberry wine. The company has a full-fledged winery at Hawthorne, FL: https://www.islandgrovewinecompany.com/
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From here, we went down the street to an indoor flea market but the twisting stalls held a collection of shlock. Good place for tourists but not for us. It doesn’t compare to the Festival Marketplace at home.
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Coming Next: Christmas Day in Disney Springs
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More Fun in the Sun

On Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, we began the day with a walk in Tree Tops Park. This is always lovely with the tall trees and marshland walkway. I didn’t climb the viewing tower this time, but others in our party made it to the top.
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We saw The Crimes of Grindelwald movie in the afternoon. Lots of plot twists and revelations captured my interest in this film that takes place before the Harry Potter films, although the scenes with creatures could be too slow-moving. The plotting and characters still don’t have the appeal of the original movies, although the world-building elements will appeal to diehard fans.
In the evening, we went for the dinner show at the venerable Mai Kai Restaurant that’s been here ever since I can remember. This was a celebratory birthday dinner. I started with coconut lobster bisque. My entrée was a teriyaki combo with rice. For dessert, my choice was coconut flan. The food was good and the show as spectacular as I remembered. You can see the videos on my Facebook page.
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Sunday morning, we concluded the weekend with brunch at Vienna Café. It was an elegant and memorable way to end the festivities. And now it’s time to focus on the upcoming holidays and get back to work. You’ll be happy to hear that I have finally started writing the next Bad Hair Day mystery novella. It may be slow-going, but at least it’s moving forward.
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