Inside the ballroom at Treasury on the Plaza in St. Augustine, we took our seats at our assigned tables for our daughter’s wedding reception. The bridal couple had this lovely corner: The centerpieces were lovely, and the setting in this historic former bank building was as majestic as a palace. The vault in the back has been turned into a really cool bar. The special lighting gave a pink glow to the entire room. The meal was served without delay. This way the festivities could proceed without guests waiting for each course to be delivered. We had salad, a dual entrée of fish with lemon sauce and chicken marsala, and wedding cake to finish. The first dance was beautiful. Next our husband danced with our daughter, and then the groom danced with his mom. The best surprise was a dance number with the bride and groom in a swirl of fog. As they ended their slow dance, their attendants joined them and they began dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It was awesome! They were great, and it was a headliner sequence that we’ll always remember. In between dance numbers, we had time to go around and greet our friends and family. As the evening drew to a close, the wedding planner had us all go outside and light sparklers to send off the happy couple. I couldn’t believe it was over already. Coming Next: The Wedding Breakfast
As we lined up in the foyer prior to walking down the aisle at Treasury on the Plaza in St. Augustine, the tension in the air increased. Finally, it was our turn. My husband and I went in next-to-last. Inside the doors, we stood aside so our daughter could appear alone in the doorway for everyone to admire. We then joined arms and walked down the aisle together as is the custom in Jewish weddings. The moment seemed surreal. I didn’t hear the music or see individual faces. It was hard to believe we were really there at our daughter’s wedding. The ceremony was beautiful, incorporating many Jewish customs. Our daughter looked radiant, and the groom wore a grin the entire time. They performed the custom of circling seven times to represent the seven days of creation. In a more modern fashion, the bride circled three times and then the groom did the same. They made the last round together. Finally, the groom smashed the traditional glass with his foot, and it was done. The beaming couple strode down the aisle, followed by the attendants in the prescribed order. We went next, trailed by the groom’s parents. The attendants and bridal couple went outside for photos while the rest of us segued into the cocktail hour. As I roamed around greeting people, I grabbed an appetizer and promptly spilled it on my gown. My very expensive beaded gown. This was Mishap #3 (or 4, if you count the snap on my dress popping as described in the prior post). In the dark, the stains on the skirt might not show, but they would be glaringly obvious if the photographer shone his light in my direction. Fortunately, I’d had the foresight to bring a backup dress. I’d bought a dress in the same color at Dillard’s and really liked it, but I thought it a bit too staid for a mother-of-the bride dress. However, it would serve its purpose now. Herein lies The Tale of Two Dresses. You can see them here. Most guests in the darkened ballroom thought I’d merely put on a jacket. This dress turned out to be more comfortable for dancing anyway, especially with the snap broken on the first gown. I’d also changed my shoes from a higher heel for the ceremony to a medium heel for the reception. So here’s your wedding tip: Be Prepared. Bring spare shoes, an extra gown, and accessories to match. I wish I’d brought a necklace to go with dress number two, but I’d left my baubles in the hotel room. Next time, if there is one, I’ll double up on everything. Meanwhile, we had to line up again for a grand entrance into the ballroom after everyone had found their seats. Coming Next: The Wedding Reception In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am thankful to all of you for your ongoing support and encouragement. Your friendship, even at a distance and across cyberspace, means a lot to me. Have a blessed holiday with good food, friends and family. May peace and love be with you.
At 10am on our daughter’s wedding day, the bridal attendants and mothers gathered in the bride’s hotel room and donned the special robes she’d provided for each of us. Hair and makeup experts arrived and began their work, starting with the bridesmaids. These young ladies all looked like models, and they were even more gorgeous after the prep team did their work. I was very happy with the way my hair and makeup turned out. Thanks to Carrie Wilson Makeup and Hair by Lisa Moir for their expertise. Our daughter had ordered sandwiches brought in so we ate lunch while sitting around watching each other get done. The photographers arrived as our daughter was finishing with her hair. They snapped pictures of us in our robes. It was a glorious day outside, and we stood on the balcony admiring the view of the bay glistening in the distance. We’d lucked out with the weather. Before we knew it, we had to gather our belongings and make our way to the wedding venue at Treasury on the Plaza in St. Augustine. We were getting dressed over there in the bridal suite. Chaos ensued as the girls all put on their red gowns and touched up their hair in the large space allotted to us, complete with dressing table mirrors and our own restroom and kitchenette. We did a champagne toast to the occasion. Everyone looked beautiful, and it was heartwarming to see our daughter with her life-long friends and her cousin, the maid of honor. As I bent over in my gown to hook my silver shoes, the snap popped on my dress. This snap held the shoulders together at the back. Without it, the dress started to slip down. I had to constantly readjust it. I had told the seamstress the dress was too tight on top, and this proved it. Meanwhile, our daughter left to do the “First Look” photos with the groom. Then they came back in along with the rabbi. The bride and groom signed the Jewish marriage certificate called a ketubah in front of all of us as witnesses. We all went outside to take formal photos in the park across the street before any guests arrived. Then it was time to wait in our private areas (the groomsmen had their own suite) until summoned by the wedding planner to assemble in the foyer. My heart rate accelerated. It was almost time. Coming Next: The Wedding Ceremony
The wedding rehearsal was held at 11am on Saturday. Our bridal party assembled at the Treasury on the Plaza where the wedding planner took us step-by-step through the ceremony. It was a sobering moment as the reality of the wedding hit us. How would we remember all these moves when the time came? Our heads filled with instructions, we went to lunch at O.C. White’s Restaurant in their upstairs room. We had a delightful meal while getting to know each other. During our free afternoon, Richard and I strolled down St. George Street to browse in the shops. St. Augustine is always a charming town to visit with its distinctive restaurants, museums, historical buildings and attractions. Then it was time to rest in our room until the rehearsal dinner at The Floridian. Our private room upstairs was beautifully decorated, and appetizers were laid out on the bar. Mostly this was about connecting with close family members and getting better acquainted with members of the bridal party. Thanks to Es and Rick, our future mechutonim, for hosting this event. Anticipation filled the air. The big day would soon be upon us. Coming Next: The Wedding Day <><><> Sign up for my reader’s newsletter list to stay informed about new releases, giveaways, special offers & events:https://nancyjcohen.com/newsletter/
Our daughter’s wedding was magnificent. It’s hard to believe it is over. All that planning for ten months and then in three days, it was done. There’s relief that things went well mixed with regret that it’s past history, but we’ll relive the event through the photos. (This collage is representative of a wedding but is not ours.) We checked into the bed and breakfast inn at St. Augustine that was designated for the bridal party. Here began the first of our Wedding Misadventures. This historic inn had no private parking area. You have to park in an assigned space at a lot several blocks away. To unload your luggage, you must hunt down a driveway on a street at the rear. We pulled into the wrong place and had to drive around the block again to find the proper loading zone. Our room was in a separate structure from the main building, where our daughter had booked a lovely suite. We had a room that needed renovation as the wall a/c unit blasted onto the beds. There was a long flight of steps up to our second floor room with no elevator. The front desk sent a guy to help us with our bags. Then we backed our car out of the tight driveway and ended up scratching the passenger side. We suspect it came from a latch sticking out from a gate. Mishap #1. Friday evening, we had drinks in the cozy cocktail lounge at the inn and then got ready to meet everyone at Michael’s Tasting Room for an informal dinner. My husband flushed the toilet in our hotel room before we left. It overflowed and flooded on the floor. Mishap #2. We reported it to the front desk, who assured us they would get the maintenance man right over there. We went to dinner and had a delightful meal with the members of the bridal party who’d arrived early. From left to right are the bride and groom. They are toasting with the groom’s brother (aka the best man) and his wife. And here are Richard and I seated with Es and Rick, soon to be our Mechutonim (i.e. relatives through marriage). Anxious about our room situation, we hurried back around 9:30. The front desk person said a plumber had been called, and he was still working on the toilet. We spoke to the man, who said the problem was in a pipe and he had to drill into the wall. We were outta there. After speaking to the front desk, we spent the night at another hotel, planning to return in the morning. The inn refunded our night’s stay. We returned the next day and had a pleasant breakfast on the front porch. I had French Toast Peach Cobbler. That’s the best part about B&Bs – the morning meal. It’s a good thing we ate first, because here’s what we found in our room: Despite the clerk’s reassurance that the problem had been fixed and the maid would clean up, we checked out and booked two nights at the Hilton. Central a/c! Starbucks in the lobby! We were in heaven! We moved over all our stuff and were ready to face the new day. Coming Next: The Wedding Rehearsal GIVEAWAY Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card at Booklover’s Bench.
I’m a big olive fan. When I was younger, I used to eat cream cheese and black olive sandwiches for lunch. Now I like to eat olives as an accompaniment to any kind of sandwich, or olive tapenade on crackers as an appetizer. I like green olives, but they can be saltier. Then we have Kalamata olives, which I enjoy along with nova on a bagel or in a Greek salad. In Trimmed to Death, my hairstylist sleuth Marla Vail goes to interview a person of interest at an olive grove. Along the way, she learns more about this fruit from the olive tree. What’s the difference between green and black olives? The olive is a stone fruit, in which a fleshy outer covering surrounds a pit or stone, which in turn encases a seed. The outer flesh of an olive contains up to thirty percent oil. Olives grown for the table are different from olives pressed for oil. Raw olives have a bitter taste. They need to be processed before we can eat them. They can be sun dried, but more commonly they’re treated to remove the bitter compounds and make them more palatable. Green olives are picked before they ripen and are soaked in lye. Then they’re washed in water to remove the caustic solution and transferred to fermenting vessels full of brine. The brine is changed on a regular basis to help remove the bitter phenolic compound known as oleuropein. Fermentation occurs by natural microbes present on the olives that survive the lye treatment. These bacteria produce lactic acid that lowers the pH of the brine. This helps stabilize the product against unwanted pathogens. Once fermented, the olives are placed in fresh brine and acid-corrected before going to market. Black olives are picked after ripening. Tree-ripened olives turn purple due to an accumulation of anthocyanin, a purplish pigment. These ripe olives need treatment before they’re edible. Salt-cured olives, produced in certain Mediterranean countries, are washed and packed in alternating layers of salt. This draws the moisture from the olives, dehydrating and shriveling them. Once cured, they are sold in their natural state without any additives. Oil-cured olives are cured in salt and then soaked in oil. Otherwise, there’s the fermentation process described above. California black olives, although labeled as ripe on supermarket cans, are really green olives that have been soaked in lye and washed in water injected with compressed air. This process is repeated until the skin and flesh are oxidized, turning the olives black. Then the olives are washed and put into a fresh brine solution. Ferrous gluconate may be added to set the shiny black color before these olives are canned. What is a Kalamata olive? The Kalamata olive from this region in Greece has a deep purple color and is meatier than other varieties. These olives are placed directly into fermentation vessels full of brine until they appear almost dark brown or black. Most Kalamata olives are split to allow the interior to absorb the flavor. Beware these olives are usually sold with their seeds. Even if you get olives that are supposedly pitted, small bits might remain, so be careful when eating them. Why are black olives sold in cans and green olives in jars? Early California black olives sold in jars caused cases of botulism. As a result, the industry switched to a canning process. The artificially-ripened olives are heated to 240 degrees. A canned item can tolerate this temperature, but not a glass jar. Green olives don’t undergo the addition of oxygen and are packed in brine. The salinity is high enough and the pH levels are low enough to inhibit bacterial growth, so they don’t have to be sealed in metal cans and cooked. These olives remain edible for many years stored in jugs, crocks, or jars. No refrigeration is required until opened. Excerpt from Trimmed to Death Hairstylist Marla Vail is talking to a Florida olive grower. “Some olive varieties may be edible off the tree if they are sun dried first. Otherwise, the curing process can take a few days with lye treatment, or a few months with brine or salt packing.” “What do you mean, with lye?” Marla wrinkled her nose at the thought. “Lye processing is mainly used with green or semi-ripe olives,” Ben explained, as they crossed over to another row and then headed back toward the main complex. “The olives are soaked in lye for eight to ten hours to hydrolyse the oleuropein. Then they’re washed in water to remove the caustic solution and transferred to fermenting vats filled with brine. Or, you can avoid the lye process and put them directly into fermentation vessels. There are other methods as well. One technique involves artificially darkening the olive to make it appear black.” This was news to her. “Are table olives different from olives used to make olive oil?” “Yes. Some olives are grown to cure and eat, while others are prized for their use in making extra virgin olive oil. Olive mills press the oil, and the sooner you get the product to consumers, the better the quality of the oil. Demand has increased since the health benefits of olive oil have been recognized. In the U.S., we currently import about ninety-eight percent of the millions of gallons we consume per year. You’re not always getting the product you think you are with these imports. Fraud has become a multi-million dollar enterprise.” Olive Oil Scams are a topic for another time. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about this fruit and are now eager to check out the varieties in your local grocery store. Disclaimer: This information is based on my interpretation of the data I read. Any errors are unintentional. Are you an olive fan? If so, which variety do you like best? <><><> TRIMMED TO DEATH Savvy hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Vail enters a charity bake-off contest at a fall festival sponsored by a local farm. While she waits to see if her coconut fudge pie is a winner, Marla discovers a dead body in the strawberry field. Can she unmask the killer before someone else gets trimmed from life? Recipes Included! Get your copy here: Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2xXmY57 Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/2Kb7oIK iBooks: https://apple.co/2xWHSRP Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/trimmed-to-death BN Nook: http://bit.ly/2sH9vcH BN Print: http://bit.ly/2lEUhkB Smashwords:https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/900157
We took a break and visited the Museum of Discovery and Science in downtown Fort Lauderdale. It had been years since we’d last visited when our kids were young. The museum has two levels plus a gift shop, concession stand, and IMAX theater. We bought tickets to the exhibits only, bypassing the films and the flight simulator or Mars Rover experiences. There’s also an Everglades Airboat Adventure, which we chose not to explore since we’ve been on the real thing in the past. We began our tour in the Florida Ecoscapes section. Here displays showed various South Florida habitats and some of the creatures that lived in them. An impressive aquarium section had colorful tropical fish and this spiny lobster. It’s a good thing the lobster and shrimp that I eat in a restaurant come without the heads and antennas or I’d lose my appetite fast. A section on prehistoric Florida had this giant replica of a sea creature whose only predator was the whale. An overenthusiastic young tour guide told us how its cartilage structure instead of bones meant mainly teeth were found to prove its existence. He may have said the creatures died off due to lack of food during a mini-ice age, but I was only half-listening to his rapid-fire talk. He was very knowledgeable if you wanted a thorough explanation of the era. The otter section is nicely done, with a rocky waterfall that gives the animals room to play. Naturally there’s a hurricane section where you can see a water spout form and watch news broadcasts about various storms. Downstairs also has a kids section that looks like fun for smaller children. Upstairs are the flight simulators and IMAX theater. Models of aircraft cockpits tempt you to sit in them and push buttons to allow you to virtually cruise down a runway. I ended up blowing up my aircraft as we veered onto the grass. There’s a health section where you can read about various bodily functions and medical robotic techniques. An area with brain teasers could keep you occupied all day trying to fit the jigsaw pieces into a square shape and doing other tasks. The biggest exhibit was on The Science of Archimedes, a Greek scientist eventually murdered by a Roman soldier. He designed a great many apparatus that were replicated here. A brief area with rocks and minerals drew my interest, followed by the inevitable dinosaurs. This was a fun visit that took about two hours to roam around inside and check out the gift shop. There’s no café on premises but the museum map shows one under construction. Parking is next door in a public garage. So if you’re in town looking for something indoors to do, visit our Museum of Discovery and Science. It’ll bring out the curious child in you. GIVEAWAY Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card fromBooklover’s Bench.
We got into St. Petersburg, Florida on Wednesday Sept. 5. Unfortunately, I hadn’t booked the conference hotel which was already full when I registered for Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. Events took place at the historic Vinoy Renaissance by the bay. This distinctive structure faces a boat marina and a park on one side and Beach Drive at another end. Our hotel, the Hampton Inn, was on a side street from this main strip that hosts a plethora of restaurants and museums. The town is good for a few days stay with all there is to see and do. Here are shots of the Vinoy that was built in the 1920’s. It was a distinct disadvantage not staying there as we had to tip the valet at the Hampton Inn each time we needed the car. I got too hot walking the five to six blocks in ninety degree heat to the conference hotel while dressed up for the meeting. Once I left the Vinoy in the afternoon, I didn’t return. Daily thunderstorms and the intense heat prevented another long stroll. A shuttle ran between conference hotels, but only in the early morning and late afternoon. So I learned my lesson. Never stay off site again. However, we enjoyed St. Petersburg along Beach Drive even though we didn’t go farther into downtown. Dining adventures included Parkshore Grill where we had lunch on day one. We dined outside at Fresco’s on the first night. We met my former critique partner, Sharon Hartley, and her husband for dinner at Bella Brava. Richard and I enjoyed the early bird special at 400 Beach Seafood. I think I had more fun trying the different restaurants than anything else! I skipped out on the conference on Saturday afternoon for a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts. This two-story building held many exhibits including sculptures, paintings, and valuable artifacts. I liked the clock exhibit. There’s a café and gift shop on the premises. Here are some of the items we viewed. More are in the album on my Facebook page.
Coming Next: Bouchercon 2018 See all my photos HERE GIVEAWAY Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN Gift Card at Booklover’s Bench
As usual when we visit Orlando, we like to try new dining spots as well as frequent some of our favorite restaurants. Besides Bonefish Grill and Longhorn, we celebrated our family’s September birthdays with the Magical Dining Month menu at Fleming’s. I got the beef filet with a salad and carrot cake for dessert. I didn’t fare as well at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival. This being Labor Day Weekend and the opening of the festival, the park was crowded and there was a long wait under the broiling sun just to get in through bag inspection. We made it to a couple of places where I tasted the mini blended burger (very good!) and the loaded mac and cheese (too spicy). Then I succumbed to the heat and felt lightheaded. After a brief rest on a shady bench, I recovered my stamina and we headed to the festival marketplace to pick up our annual passholder magnets. Then we left, vowing to return when the weather has cooled and the crowds have thinned. I just can’t make this trek anymore in the 90+ degree heat. Another day, we dined at La Madelaine, a French café located inside the Florida Mall where we took a nice air-conditioned walk. I didn’t have a problem there and enjoyed the exercise. My meal here was tomato basil soup, Caesar salad, and a half turkey and brie sandwich. The best breakfast was at Keke’s Café where I had a waffle accompanied by fresh berries and whipped cream. The highlight of the week was a bridal shower in honor of our daughter held at Orchid Thai Cuisine in Winter Park. The food was delicious from the buffet-style appetizers to the plated lunch to the beautiful cake. Our daughter was radiant as she greeted her friends and other guests. It’s hard to follow the wedding diet on these meals. I’d say I would wait until after the wedding, since that weekend will involve a lot of eating too, but then Thanksgiving will be upon us. Maybe I should make getting in shape a New Year’s resolution?
Last week brought both sadness and joy as we were called unexpectedly to a funeral and then hosted a bridal shower to celebrate our daughter’s upcoming nuptials. It began on Sunday past when we got a call that my brother-in-law had passed away. I spent that morning making travel arrangements. On Monday, we flew to Maryland. We joined our immediate family for dinner at a trendy restaurant near the hotel. I had roast chicken with mushroom polenta. The next day we visited with my husband’s niece until it was time for the gravesite service. We saw many friends and relatives there. Rest in peace, Bobby. Another meal followed before we were left with our memories and a flight home on Wednesday. Not a moment to dawdle, as on Friday our daughter’s future in-laws were coming to town, and I’d invited them for dinner. Thursday was spent cooking along with hair and nails appointments. Friday we got the house in order before everyone arrived. I picked up the cake for the bridal shower and stuck it in the fridge. We had a lovely dinner together with our soon-to-be new family. Saturday morning, I rushed out to get the flowers, and we loaded our cars with party favors and other supplies. The event was to be held at Brio Tuscan Grille, where they’d partitioned off a private area with a curtain. We had the tables arranged in a U-Shape. Friends and relatives arrived to celebrate the joyous event with us. It was a great day, and we have many happy memories. In another month, we’ll attend a second shower, Bouchercon mystery writers’ conference, and Rosh Hashanah dinner all within a week. Let’s hope we only have happy times ahead as we cherish each day and each person who makes our lives meaningful. Blessings to you all.