How can you walk into a place decked out like this and not have a good time?
Folks, you’ve got to get yourselves on down to Cantina Louie. Located on Atlantic Boulevard in the small coastal town of Atlantic Beach, Florida, Cantina Louie is consistently one of my favorite and quick go-to restaurants around, any time. But whenever we have a taste for Mexican, we usually end up here.
The food is always good, and the atmosphere is always fun. Really, I personally enjoy all the murals on the wall and the fun lighting and decor flowing throughout. But then again, I do like the food just as much as the art within.
So if you’re looking for a friendly and casual place to dine while in The Beaches area of Jacksonville, this is the place.
Besides, any day is a good day for Mexican food… says anyone and everyone who is put face to face with a platter of tortilla chips and salsa - right? And this place is generous with their chips and salsa. My goodness… it’s the best around, always fresh, and the salsa is absolutely nothing other than addicting. And did I mention that it’s endless? All I can say is - Arrive. Hungry.
And then, after you’ve munched away on the best chips and salsa in town, you’ll need to look down at your stomach, and give it a fair warning.
Says you to your tummy.
Because here comes your entree!
I hope your tummy heard you.
For $9.99 I was presented with all of this darn good food!
I almost always order the combo platter, hardly ever deviating from that selection. With a choice of chicken or ground beef, the platter comes with two tacos and a side of rice and beans.
And this is where the tummy really needs that fair warning. Have you ever seen a ‘side’ of retried beans and rice like this? It’s enormous. It’s huge. It’s beans and rice.
Any time you’re sitting at home and quietly contemplating where you should go out to dinner that weekend… just ask your stomach. He or she will remind you of Cantina Louie and my guess is you’ll be back for another go round.
Hubby got the chicken fajitas with a steak taco. He usually also orders a regular margarita with salt while we’re there. And I always go for the pink lemonade.
So yeah, um… Who else here is a pink lemonade fan? I can’t be the only one, right? Cantina Louie is one of the only places around I can find pink lemonade. Metro Diner has it, and I always order it there, but the list of places is short - very short. So any time I am at Cantina Louie the pink lemonade is a must for me. Such a treat.
And speaking of treats, the answer here is no. I have never had dessert here for the very simple reason that we are always just too full after our meal, every single time. So the meal is the treat. The chips and salsa are the treat... It’s goes sorta like this:
As a wise woman once said,
“Dessert first - my friends.”
Spoken by that wise woman.
If it was up to me where you decide to go to dinner I’d say go wherever you darn well please, but if you ask my tummy for its recommendation, I’d say, get yourself on down to Cantina Louie. Sit outside and play bags on the outdoor patio. Or sit inside under the blowing air conditioning when it’s 105 degrees and you want to cool off with a margarita and some freshly made crunchy chips. Just come; and sit. And have a pink lemonade for me while you’re there, if merely to help keep the supply and demand going for the next time I visit.~
Check out some of my visits to other Jax Beaches area restaurants here!
5] The Reef On SR A1A: Worth Pulling Over For
11] Eleven South Bistro & Bar ~~ Supper Club Of The South
15] V Pizza ~ The Very Best Pizza In Jax Beach!
*Part of ~ Bean’s Best ~ Award Winner 2019
35] Happiest Of Holidays @ Hawkers Asian Street Fare
40] Visiting The Florida Cracker Kitchen ~ Jacksonville
Have you been to Cantina Louie in Atlantic Beach? Do you love pink lemonade as much as I do? What other restaurants serve pink lemonade that I need to know of? Let me know in the comments down below:
Jerry Seinfeld once said after visiting a certain and particular bubble boy in upstate New York... “There’s nothing finer than being in your diner.” And you know what, every time I walk into a diner I think of that episode. The Bubble Boy.
But you know what else? Sometimes I tend to disagree with Jerry on that sentiment… Sometimes, I think there might be just one small thing finer on this Earth than being inside a diner. And that’s being inside a coffee shop… in The Keys.
Located @ 713 Caroline Street, Key West, FL 33040, and open seven days a week, The Coffee Plantation Cafe is a must-visit while in Key West, Florida.
What a complete and total rare gem on an island. During our recent visit to the Keys to run the Key West Half Marathon, on our first day we walked past this lovely little cafe late in the afternoon. Everything about it looked very tempting. We had just visited the Race Expo for the event we would be running early the next morning and strolled past the shop as we headed back to our hotel. Just one glance and I knew I had to go in there before our short and spectacular visit in Key West came to an end.
So, after exercising for hours upon hours that next morning at the race, my brain told me it was definitely time to get some much-needed and well-deserved coffee. In fact, toward the end of that crazy and fun and ridiculously challenging race, coffee is what held me together. Coffee kept me going. Coffee was my motivation. Well - at least the thought of said coffee.
So shortly thereafter crossing the finish line, and obtaining my highly coveted compass race medal, and eating all the cornbread my stomach could handle at the post-race party, and drinking a lot of water just for kicks, coffee was the next thing on my agenda. Actually, it was the only thing on my agenda. I just wanted fresh, hot coffee, if I accomplished nothing else that entire day.
And The Coffee Plantation Cafe is smack right there at the race finish; in the heart of downtown Key West. I’d say the cafe location is quite ideal for both tourists and locals alike. It’s right in the middle of everything, but off a quiet little side street. It’s quiet and cozy inside, but always seemingly busy. It’s friendly, and warm, and welcoming. And quite intriguing with all the beautiful art adorning the walls of the shop.
With lots of both indoor and outdoor seating available, there’s something for most everybody. Walking in one passes cold cases of bottled drinks and such to grab and go. And then at the counter there is a variety of baked goods for sale. Fresh and tasty, and very tempting, we had to buy something. We had no choice. We were forced into it. After 13.1 miles almost anything and everything looks good, but this stuff would have looked good even if I had just rolled out of bed and hadn’t burned one calorie off my behind yet that day.
We ordered one very large cinnamon roll, to split. The hubby ate his half right away, as he doesn’t need to watch his calorie intake and can do whatever he pleases. But I saved my half for a treat that evening, as I do now watch my calories every day and had already had an amazing plate of cornbread for breakfast after the race.
Hubby ordered a large iced latte, and I ordered a large hot latte. They were perfect. I could have visited this shop every day of my visit in Key West. And I was sad when I actually did have to leave. Had I been a resident of this quaint little area of the world, this cafe would definitely be on my regularly scheduled itinerary.
They also sell a variety of little gift items inside the cafe. We purchased a Key West Southernmost Point magnet with a lovely little piece of art in a matte frame. There are some little sea creatures floating around inside the drawing, and they’re now nestled hugging my refrigerator back home with us… But gosh you know what, every time I look into their eyes as I open the fridge, they give me a sad little look and even a sigh. Ughhhh, I think I hear. I tend to think deep down inside they’re a tad bit homesick for their favorite Key, and would rather go back to where they came from.
We sat on the comfy couches inside the cafe for a while. Needing to give our legs a rest after the half marathon, I probably could have fallen asleep inside the shop and slept for days on end.
So after that realization we decided to step outside and see the action of the town go by while finishing our drinks.
Something I will always love about the state of Florida is that I can sit outside with my cup of coffee in the morning, and the month on the calendar tells me that it’s January on this our Earth. That realization never gets old. And can maybe and probably only be truly appreciated from someone who grew up in the North, with its potential for bitter cold in the month of January. I am outside now more than I ever was my entire life before living in Florida. And I cherish every drink I sip sitting outside in the fresh and salty air. Florida Winter, ahhhh...
As we finished our drinks and called our Uber back to our hotel, I had already decided I need to come back to this shop at my very earliest convenience. I miss it already, and I do hope if you visit Key West you will have a lovely and delicious and quite caffeinated drink at The Coffee Plantation Cafe, while sitting there on their comfy couches. I hope you enjoy sipping your large hot latte while sitting on their front porch watching the world go by, as much as I did. Because there really might be nothing finer on this Earth. ~
Here’s some more stories about life and adventure living in The Sunshine State:
9] Sago Coffee: A Cup Of Friendly & Flavorful Florida
*Part of ~ Bean’s Coffee Shop Challenge ~
13] 2 Pro’s & 2 Cons About My 2 Night Stay - In Celebration, FL
16] Beach Diner ~ If You Feed Them They Will Come
42] Where Does The Chicken Cross The Road?
Have you been to the Coffee Plantation Cafe? What is your favorite coffee shop in the Keys? And even more important, what’s your favorite Seinfeld episode? Let me know in the comments down below:
I absolutely LOVE making Beef Stew! Especially in the crock pot. In fact, is there any other way to make Beef Stew? I’d love to know - because the crock pot is actually the only way I’ve ever cooked this recipe.
We make this recipe A LOT. It’s VERY simple, and takes hardly any time at all to prepare. Plus, by slow-cooking it, I get to enjoy the wonderful and hearty aroma floating around my entire apartment all throughout the day. By the time the dinner bell rings, I’m much too hungry. If only because my brain has been breathing in beef and potato filled oxygen all day long as I paint in my studio.
Another bonus with this recipe is that it is extremely hearty and healthy for anybody trying to build or maintain a healthier lifestyle.
The beef is loaded with protein - which keeps you fuller longer, and has the added bonus of making your body work harder to digest those proteins - thus, burning more calories in the process of consumption and digestion. And the remaining ingredients are loaded with other nutrients.
I love carbs... and I really love potatoes. So if you are aiming to get healthy and stay healthy, and you are leaning toward that low-carb or no-carb lifestyle - I highly advise against it. It may backfire in the long run, with the individual doing the restricting ending up craving carbs until they ultimately binge on them. It’s best to live WITH the carbs and not restrict the carbs - in my opinion. And add those carbohydrates into your life in a healthier manner. EVERYTHING in moderation does includes potatoes.
So don’t y’all ignore the potato - it might just become your best friend!
Besides, potatoes are one of the healthiest and nutrient dense foods on the entire planet. If you don’t love potatoes, go ahead and learn to love them. And NO - I am not speaking of french fries, even though, yes, I do love them like the rest of the world. But go ahead and add an entire bag of baking potatoes into the stew with zero guilt about eating a carbohydrate. Just don’t fry that potato up before you pop it into the pot.
In our two person, plus one furry angel dog, household - this recipe makes a great dinner, with about two more nights of leftovers. I recommend making it on a Sunday and eating it right away on a Sunday night in - then you have one to two nights of leftovers during the week - depending on how many people you are serving. I really hope you enjoy this recipe; I hope you enjoy cooking it; and I hope you love it as much as my hubby and I both do.
Roughly 3 pounds of baking potatoes - give or take - I usually buy a 5 pound bag and have a few leftover, to be used in other recipes throughout the week.
1 ½ pounds of beef stew meat (beef stew chunks cut into cubes)
1 bag of whole carrots from the fresh produce section
About 3 whole sweet onions
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt as needed - roughly less than a small tsp
Freshly ground pepper as needed - roughly a small tsp
Water (enough water to fill the ingredients about halfway or less in the crock pot)
Heat slow cooker to Low (8-10 hours)
Peel all the potatoes and cube them
Peel the carrots and cut into roughly 1 inch chunks
Peel and chop the onions into chunks or quarters
Pour in Olive Oil to coat the bottom of the crock pot
Add all the beef stew chunks next as the bottom layer
Add carrots next
Add potatoes next
Add onions next as the top layer
Add seasoning on top the onions
Cook in crockpot on low for 8-10 hours
Share and enjoy! ~
For more of Bean’s Bold Recipes, check out these recipes from my kitchen to yours, below:
10) Bean’s Soulful Southern Chili
25) Don’t Google It, Just Do It ~ Christine’s Chocolate Chip Cookies ~ *Part of ~ Bean’s Baking Series ~
30) Bean’s Sugar Cookie Recipe ~ *Part of ~ Bean’s Baking Series ~
38) The Year Of The Sweater ~ Bean’s Minestrone Soup Recipe
*I’d love to know if you make my Beef Stew recipe? And, did you enjoy it?! Go ahead and leave me a comment down below:
And if you aren’t yet signed up for my twice-a-week newsletter, go ahead and sign up below, now. As one of Bean’s Sunshine Subscriber’s, you’ll receive two emails per week from me. One every Monday, and one every Friday. I’m here to help you turn your Monday’s into Friday’s, and live life like it’s a Friday, every gosh darn day of the week!
ANSWER: Duval Street.
QUESTION: WHEN Did The Chicken Cross The Road?
ANSWER: During The 22nd Annual Key West Half Marathon.
~ On Sunday, January 19, 2020, the 22nd Annual Key West Half Marathon took place on the picturesque paradise that is Key West, Florida.
The last of the Keys and the most special of Keys. The infamous Key. The best Key…
Let me just tell you one thing and one thing only. If you love road races - if you love running - if you love fitness - if you just even merely love to move - then get your cute little tushy on down to the Keys in 2021 and RUN. THIS. RACE.
I can hardly believe it myself, but I was one of the participants. I partook in the 13.1 Mile Half Marathon, however, there was also a 5K race available taking place coinciding with the much longer race. For all those who deemed the Half to be maybe just a bit too much, too silly, or just too ridiculous of mileage to attempt.
I guess I fall in the silly and ridiculous category myself. And yes, I did finish - purely to get that highly coveted medal, of course. But it was not without a lot of self-discipline, patience, and maybe some sheer will power thrown in for good measure.
The race was a definite challenge for me, but one I knew I could do, even if I was very, very slow toward the end. And yes, there were lots and lots of chickens participating in the festivities alongside about four thousand humans. And those silly little creatures were a source of joy and good humor to me during such a lengthy physical task.
Taking place on the Sunday of the Martin Luther King long holiday weekend, this is quite a popular race in the Keys. And naturally a big race coinciding with a holiday means hotel prices throughout the island were on the high side. If this is something you may be considering for next year, I’d highly recommend booking your stay far in advance. We booked our room back in June of last year, and rates were already high. This weekend, there were ‘no vacancy’ signs all throughout the island.
And I registered for the race itself back on May 21 last year. We were confident that we were going to run it, so we were sure of booking our hotel back when we did far in advance, and just assumed the price would only increase as registration fills and the race date inches closer. And naturally as the holiday itself got closer.
We stayed at The Reach Resort Key West, a Hilton property. And after our arrival on the island, we checked in and then quickly made our way over to the Race Expo, which was open from 12pm-6pm on Saturday. The Expo took place for the two days prior to race day. And in case you are in the habit of registering for races and then forgetting all about it afterward, never fear. We got plenty of email reminders prior to race weekend with all the necessary details.
My husband and I have run many road races in our lives. Up north throughout all of Chicagoland, and in a large variety of cities and states. We’ve made races part of our travels many times prior to our move South, and we also finished many races in Florida since our move here. If I could leave you one reminder as you potentially prepare for a race in the Sunshine State. and one thing only about racing in Florida it is this: It’s hot here.
If you do run any race in the South, my best recommendation to you is to focus on yourself, your body. Basically, your entire self-care routine should take precedence over attempting any personal bests or world records you may be aiming for. The heat, and the blasting endless sun, alongside the potential for volatile weather events any day of the year here should be on your radar.
In Florida I have run races on highways, races on the beach, races late at night, and races starting before the sun even decides to grace us with its presence. At any and almost all of those times, it’s been hot. It can be humid. The “real-feel” weather is even hotter on the body. And the other issue is water. Right when you need water the most in your entire life, it may not be there for you…
Yes, that’s correct, we’ve even been to races where they run out of water. It’s not pleasant. So, basically, this is all a big and bold or even a small and subtle way of reminding you to take care of yourself and plan for yourself. And don’t rely on supplies to just be there for you if you need it because sometimes they do run out of things. Pack water and plan accordingly.
So, needless to say, when we got the final email reminder for the race, I was very pleased they put out there front and center and big and bold to us as a reminder: They basically told us this is Key West.
Yes, Key Freaking West. Have fun out there. And to NOT make this the race you choose to go for some personal best or some world record breaking time. Something I already knew from lots of previous experiences at these types of races. But others may not. There is always a new and inexperienced runner who may benefit from this. So there they put it. And hopefully that warning helps even one less person end up in a medical tent due to overdoing it, pushing it just a bit too hard, or to help remind them to pack an extra bottle of water or Gatorade.
So basically, have fun out there why don’t ya? Go slow and not care why don’t ya! Take in all the sights along the way. This is NOT a highway race. There is something cool to see and watch and hear each step of the way.
Back when I was in college, the men’s cross country coach, who is still coaching there, had a motto that’s now legendary. Al Carius, head men’s coach at division three North Central College in Naperville, IL, always, always says “Run For Fun & Personal Bests.” I believe that is simply Golden advice for all fitness levels and abilities. It should be fun. And it should be your race, and not anybody else’s.
And I really think the Key West Half Marathon is the perfect race to “Run For Fun & NOT Personal Bests.” Just don’t care about the time on the clock. Only care about how much pure fun and enjoyment you are having while that clock is running.
Either that, or maybe “RUM For Fun & Personal Bests.”
And that’s just what I did. I did the fun part, but I do like the idea of the rum part too. The entire race was a dream race for a road runner. The scenery alone is worth the entry fees and hotel stays and all the planning and traveling to get to that perfect little island.
The course is an out and back route. It starts at the heart of downtown Key West, ventures down the famous Duval Street, wanders around neighborhoods and then out onto the shoreline. Once hitting the seaside, there we stayed for miles upon miles. As the sun came up it definitely was kind of surreal. After all the races I’ve run over the years all over the place, in many states, there was definitely something special about running in my most favorite state, in one of my very favorite places, and watch the sun come up at the same time.
Morning is my favorite time of day. I’m up early, always before the sunrise, a race day being no exception. When I woke that morning in the 4AM hour, I was up with the roosters. And I must say hearing them crowing was an exciting way to start the special day. And gosh, were they crowing. They were loud, and they were hilarious. I imagined a little feathery creature sitting on our balcony starting off his day. Because that’s how close they sounded.
And somehow those quite loud little cuties didn’t manage to wake up the hubby, nor our sleeping puppy. But I tend to think that’s only because when our dog travels, it’s a hard life for a little Sheltie on the road. And she needs extra beauty sleep for the occasion. And the hubby, well…. I’ll just say he literally slept through Hurricane Dorian blowing outside our window for hours on end in the middle of the night, so he basically can sleep through anything. A little rooster chilling out on our 3rd Floor balcony having his morning coffee with some cream and sugar and singing a special tune at the same time would never awake my husband.
So me and the roosters got ready for the race. I had no idea I would meet my new feathery friends again all throughout the race course. But that I did. And after my hubby was all ready as well, we Ubered over to the start, which was about 1.25 miles away. I needed to save every extra step for the long race ahead of me and was glad I did by the end of the day. So Uber worked out perfectly and lots of other families did the same. I also saw lots of bikes and golf carts and taxis making their way to the start from our hotel and the surrounding resorts.
We left our room at 6:27am on the dot. Ventured to the lobby. And ordered our car. Uber arrived at 6:42 and we made it to the line with time to spare before the 7am start. Including my hubby going through bag check.
For experienced racers, all this last minute timing might sound a bit crazy to you. Usually with most of the bigger and longer races we’ve run in the past, they always recommend arriving far in advance, thousands of people filing through the corrals. And lots of standing and waiting enmasse for the gun to go off.
And that’s exactly why I chose this particular race to run my first long distance event in a very long time. There was no hustle and bustle ahead of time. It was more like calm, cool, and collected. Plus some relaxation thrown in for good measure. And bubbles flying through the sky. Oh yeah, and we can’t forget about some good old fashioned chillin.
The gun went off right on time, at 7am on the dot. And it was off through Duval Street we went. There were lots of spectators and cow bells and cheers and bands and then some. To me, it was all so reminiscent of The Bix 7 Mile in Davenport, IA. Held every July, and even though I haven’t run it in years upon years now, The Bix remains one of my absolute favorite, and most memorable and special of road races.
Duval Street was packed with people. Lots of fun music flowing all throughout the course. A Jimmy Buffett Band was playing off to the side of me and yes, I did a double take, because he did look and dress exactly like my dear friend Jimmy.
There were horns and trumpets and full dj’s blasting fun tunes. And of course more cowbells sprinkled throughout.
Once the race route hits the shore it’s a very long out and back toward the airport looking at the ocean all the way, and then back to the center of town. I was fascinated with the jets coming and going next to me at the small airport. Taking off right in front of me, and flying directly overhead with the sun reflecting on the water. I was just absolutely fascinated.
Hitting the turnaround at approximately 6.5 miles, it was all downhill from there, don’t ya know…. Or so joked countless people on the sidelines as we passed.
By this point for me, the sun was really awake and I was glad I had put on layers of sun block before we left the hotel room. At about 8:35am I really felt the sun on my skin. (Me, going slow of course and still with plenty of miles to go.) I imagined my hubby at the finish drinking beer, and he soon would be.
And I ran another slow few miles, back toward town. I would say miles 7 and 8 were really slow, and I planned to walk from mile 9 onward. Like I said, I really just wanted the medal. And there ain’t nothing wrong with a good solid walk, ever.
So very, very slowly walking at this point for the last few miles of the race, I approached a turn on the shoreline. I thought we were headed toward town. Nope, not yet. They had one trick up their sleeve yet. We turned outward onto the vast and open sea. I walked out and back a very large pier before continuing onward. I had studied the race course but I guess I forgot about that part.
The mind starts playing tricks at that point. Oh my gosh, this is too far? An extra out and back! Shall we just stop and sit on this bench for the rest of the day? Yes, I’ll just sit here and watch the pelicans do their thing. Hmmm, sounds like a perfect idea to me… I thought of the old man floating on the old boat on top of the old sea… Was he out there now with the big Fish dragging him around all of creation? I think I saw him on the horizon!
And so, back to reality, I had to tell my brain to shut the heck up. Remember, you know better than what your brain tells you sometimes, so just tell it you are in charge. Even Hemingway and The Old Man himself knew that. I wanted that medal shaped like a compass real bad. I kept going.
Back into town and headed toward the finish, my husband, who had now finished his Half long ago, found me and kindly walked the rest of the way into the finish line with me. We weaved and bobbed throughout the Mallory Square area. At this time of the day, Key West was in full swing. People sitting having a late breakfast or an early lunch at outdoor cafes. A huge cruise ship was pulling into port and I was able to watch it dock as I walked directly past the huge beast.
Making the final turns into the finish, I was more than ready to be done with this very fun race. I came through the finish after walking the last 4.1 miles. Still lots of people coming in even though many hours had now passed.
I made it to the land of the medals. Finally I had my very own compass medal. I love it. It was worth every step. It was worth the push, the mind trying to drag me down and me defying it. It was all worth it. If you want to run a Half, but don’t think you can run the entire thing - definitely walk whatever you want. During those last miles I was surrounded by lots and lots of walkers. It doesn’t matter how you finish it, it matters that you finish. So get out there and walk it if you must. You’re still moving you know, and just moving is really the most important thing.
And at the post-race party, it most definitely wouldn’t be a race in the South without…. corn bread! And that’s just exactly what they had. Banana halves, and Gatorade, and cornbread. Back when my husband finished, they also had bagels with lots of cream cheese, muffins and coffee cakes. But I didn’t mind that was all gone. Cornbread and I happen to be fabulous old friends. And we had a splendid time catching up with each other and chatting on the hard ground.
We sat down on a curb and just did some pure chillin afterward. As there wasn’t much else I could imagine doing at that point anyway, so that all worked out quite perfect. In fact, the actual fact that I was sitting on a street curb in Key West, Florida, glancing at the beautiful sea before me, on a breathtakingly beautiful Florida winter day, reminded me that I really like doing just exactly that.
And if post-race beer is important to your post-race experience, then never ever fear. You know those races where they take a small tag off your race number in exchange for one, single, very small beer after 13.1 miles??? Nope, not this day. At this race - they were handing it out like it was candy. And no tag, receipt, or coupon necessary. Beers all around please!
As our adventure came to an end and our hotel was desperately calling our names, we finally called our Uber to drive us the 1.25 miles back to The Reach. And yes, I’ve never been so happy for the existence of Uber in my entire life than I was sitting in the back seat riding through town during that 1.25 miles instead of walking that final stretch for the day.
Overall, the Key West Half Marathon was absolutely fantastic. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was hard, it was a challenge, it was grueling. But it was also Heaven on Earth. Sometimes the hardest things you accomplish in life are the very best things in all of life on this Earth.
This race was all that and more. It was happiness. It was community. It was bubbles flying through the air. It was music playing live on the beach. It was the breathtaking sunrise down at the end of the world. It was the planes flying over my head so close I wanted to touch them. It was Jimmy Buffett singing to me as I went passed him strumming his guitar. It was all those gosh darn cute little chickens crossing the road right in front of my feet. It was all the roosters yelling at me to keep going, as they laughed at me while they sipped their morning coffees in lovely little Cuban cafes. It was simply - FUN.~
BEAN’S BONUS TRIVIA~~
WHAT TIME: Does The Rooster Start Crowing?
ANSWER: 4:58 AM.~~
Some related adventures for y’all:
1] Happy Birthday America! ~ 4 Simple Steps To Help You Have An Easy Americana 4th:
3] The Dog Days Of Endless Summer
27] Thanksgiving & Pete’s Bar ~ Not All Resolutions Need Be Fulfilled On January FIrst
37] New Year/New 007 ~ Here’s 20 Tips That Will Have You Seeing 20/20 In 2020 ~
*Have you ever raced the Key West Half Marathon or 5K? Did you love it? I’d so love to know. Let me know in the comments down below:
There was once a little doggy named Minnie
And she was named after a Mouse
She lived very high and mighty
Yes she was The Queen of her house
Minnie The Mouse went on lots of adventures
Traveling very near and quite far
And while her life at home was filled with great leisure
She also spent lots of fun time in the car
She traveled to all of the farthest reaches
Yes that car took her to very beautiful beaches
That car took her to many little parks
Where she went on lots of lovely special walks
The window rolled down and she felt a lovely breeze
She visited lots of places and got to eat very special treats
Her shiny fur was the pure color of the best pumpkin pie
And she was the special apple of a certain little one’s eye
And Minnie was shaped just like a perfect little burrito
Because she really loved her tasty puppachinos
Plus cookies and cupcakes, pies, pizza, or even crumbs
No food was not too tempering for her to succumb
Because she would eat anything inside of the house
Yes this was the luxurious life of Queen Minnie The Mouse
She even traveled far up Up UP to the North Pole
Just to make sure she wasn’t given a piece of coal
She met the very man himself Mr. Santa Claus
And sat upon his lap with her four delicate little paws
She told him she was being such a very good little Doggy
And could he please bring her a squeaky little Dolly
Yes, Minnie’s travels let her to feel the wind in her fur
All the while her Magical Life with us went by in a blur
And her favorite ride of all was inside the stroller
Sitting side by side with her favorite little toddler
That little boy and her were quite inseparable
Yes it all was most undeniable
Minnie’s days were also spent with her little matching Bullseye
And we cannot forget both tiny Pua and tiny Hei Hei
And last but not least we must remember her little Fish
Then one day they All helped her make her Birthday Wish
She wished for happiness till the end of days
And mostly never ending time to play
To sleep and eat and dream and run
And simply for that LIFE of pure fun
Minnie got her special Birthday Wish come true
And she now lives on in our hearts, while eating lots of good food too. ~
~ This poem is dedicated to:
The life and many adventures of Minnie The Dachshund Mouse;
All those who will miss her precious presence in this world;
And to all those who miss their own furry creatures every single day. ~~
Check out @beansfldreams on Instagram for all my Floridian Dreams and latest artwork.
If you like my stories, here are some more for ya:
36) The End Of A Decade & My New Year’s Wish To You
34) Merry Christmas ~ And How To Buy For That Person On Your List Who Saved Your LIfe ~
28) The Scent Of Christmas In The Air
26) Deck The Chairs ~ BE THAT CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THIS OUR VERY OWN AND SHAREABLE WORLD
23) Faith ~ And Life Lessons Learned Living With Wild & Untamable Hair
21) Cinottis ~ And Why Life Is Too Short To Not Eat Donuts
If you liked this story, please let me know. Do you have a special little furry creature in your life? I’d love to know. Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below:
Are you looking for some real, Southern, down-home cookin’?
Well, then look no further than the Florida Cracker Kitchen.
I had an absolutely Fabulous outing there, and I Must tell you about it!
I’ve driven past the Florida Cracker Kitchen many a time these past few years. Probably hundreds of times in fact. And always wanting to stop in, and always on my way somewhere else. Well, finally, that somewhere else turned into my somewhere to be.
As we finally made our way to this lovely little destination, we pulled into the Cracker Kitchen lot and curved right on past the cow statue which stands guard out front of the building. I’ve glanced at this cow many times as we passed on by traveling Beach Boulevard. And he always looks back at me and waves hello.
Stepping out of the car there was someone playing the guitar on the front porch. I was immediately reminiscent toward the Cracker Barrel, of which I am a fan. With their rocking chairs out front, and gift shop in the entryway, this place made me think of many meals out on the road.
The Florida Cracker Kitchen has a bags game outside for those who want to play while waiting for their table. They also have an outdoor bar where patrons are served their drinks out of an old truck. And yet another neat sight was an antique fire truck sitting out back. They even have their own Little Free Library, next to a lounging horse statue. It seems the cow was on his shift, while the horse was on his break.
An absolutely gorgeous and calm Florida winter day presented itself to me, as it tends to do most every day in the winter here. So there was no need to worry about sitting Inside v. Outside because Outside it was.
We were seated at a nice, pet-friendly screened-in outdoor patio, overlooking Beach Boulevard. And while we were walk-in during the prime lunch rush, with no reservation, there was no wait and we were seated immediately. And the porch was packed. Not a table beside ours to be had.
Mason jars of icy lemonades and sweet teas, and ceramic mugs filled with coffee etched with the upside-down boot shape of the state of Florida adorned all the wooden table-tops.
We were starved, and placed our order straight away. As our meals were cooking, I smelled many things. And all of those things were good things.
Breathing in through my nose, I was immediately transported to my childhood. To the house I grew up in when very young. As I napped in the afternoons, I remember my Mother cooking the best home-cooked meals… I remember waking from a nap and smelling the aroma of good food. And that is exactly what this patio smelled like. Meals from Mom’s Kitchen.
I smelled meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I smelled swiss steak and fried potatoes. I smelled casseroles and I smelled stews. I smelled ribs. Now, mind you, I had no idea if these were things even on the menu, but I smelled it all. I smelled every meal my Mom ever made me. And it all smelled swell.
Do you think we might have been hungry when we arrived?
Our plates were served to us as my daydream came to an abrupt end.
Stepping back into the immediate present, I was face to face with the best breakfast platter I’ve had in ages.
I was presented with a plate loaded with protein and carbs, and all quite delicious. I ordered the two egg breakfast which comes with two scrambled eggs, two slices of bacon, a homemade biscuit, and a large serving of fried potatoes. All for $7.49.
The potatoes reminded me of my grandfather’s fried potatoes, with tiny sprinkle of seasoned salt mixed within. I can picture him cooking them in their small kitchen on a skillet; these had onions slighting caramelizing a bit inside as well.
And all of those doughy breads are made daily in house. That’s all their white breads, french toast, biscuits, and especially their cinnamon rolls.
If you are wondering how I am maintaining massive weight loss being served such a tasty platter of this size and full of all temptation, the answer is quite simple. I merely ate half of what I was served. I took the other half home with me, and ate it for dinner that evening. If you want to start halving your portions for weight loss while dining out, I highly recommend giving it a go.
When you start the habit you may be quite discouraged, as the meal sitting in front of you will be very tempting. And once you eat half you will think you are still hungry. Your brain will tell you to give it all up and just eat the whole darn platter already why don’t ya. But never fear, it gets much easier over time to tell your brain to just shut the heck up! Believe it or not, you know better than your brain does. And repetition of this practice will lead you to be an expert plate-halver just like myself. So all you have to do is practice.
Easy, right - so just keep on keepin’ on, and keep going out to eat. The more you halve your plate, the easier it will be on you. You will resist temptation and cravings and you will be able to tell your brain exactly what Kevin McCallister tells his basement furnace, just like a pro in no time flat. I promise.
Hubby ordered the Cracker Omelette priced at $9.99. This consisted of eggs, sausage, bacon, onion, bell peppers, and both jack and cheddar cheese; and comes with a side of the fried potatoes and a biscuit.
And the very best part of the meal was what we ordered to take home with us for our dessert that evening.
Before our visit to the restaurant, I had signed up online to become a Grits Club Member. This entitled me to one of MeMa’s Giant Cinnamon Rolls for free during our meal. I would highly recommend signing up, if merely to get an amazing free roll. It’s valued at $3.99, and when the server places the order it will come up as a $1.00 charge on your receipt. When you pay at the front counter (inside the gift shop on the way out), you can then show the cashier your email coupon again on your phone and the $1.00 charge is taken off your total bill.
We took our cinnamon roll from MeMa on home with us to split as a treat that evening. I heated it in the microwave for thirty seconds and then spread all the frosting on top. It was one of the best nightly treats I’ve had in ages. And yes, even though I lost weight, I am sure to allot myself calories for a treat each and every evening, no exceptions to that. Because I’m not living if dessert isn’t allowed in my life.
On the way out of the restaurant, we of course, browsed the gift shop in the adjacent room. It houses lots of restaurant-branded merchandise including tees, ball caps, baby bibs, and lots of decals for the car. There were countless items branded with their famous logo of which is that upside down state of Florida represented as a cowboy boot. I was in immediate love with their boot logo and purchased the cutest pink beaded necklace at $32.00 plus tax when we paid our tab.
Overall, I’d say to get your cute little behinds on down to the Florida Cracker Kitchen forthwith. You will not be sorry you went. And if you’re watching your calories, just plan for your other two meals that day to be lighter and you’ll be fine. And if you’re not watching your calories, you’ll enjoy it just the same or more so.
The meal was very inexpensive, and it ended up being significantly less than our meal of the same type at Another Broken Egg Cafe - of which I like and am a repeat customer. But just saying so that you know it’s not pricey at all.
Definitely give the Florida Cracker Kitchen a go, and get a nice and hot, real southern meal. When we got in the car to leave, I said, “I haven’t had so much fun, since the last time we had so much fun.” And that’s the gosh darn truth. ~
For more of my Floridian Fun - feel free to check these links out why don’t ya:
7) My ‘Before & After’ ~~ How A Single Act Of Kindness, Lime Bubly, And MyFitnessPal Helped Me Lose 77 Pounds In One Year
16) Beach Diner ~ If You Feed Them They Will Come
17) Fall Flavors ~ Six Simple Steps I’m Taking This Fall To Maintain My Massive Weight Loss
19) Another Broken Egg Cafe ~ A Taste Of NOLA @ The Beach
39) The Very Official & Quite Serious Donut Debate of 2020
*Part of - Bean’s Coffee Shop Challenge - series
Is it me, or does everyone debate EVERYTHING nowadays?
Flip or Flop
Who wore it better?
Kate vs. Meghan
Netflix vs. Hulu
Disney vs. Universal
Coke vs. Pepsi
What came first… the chicken or the egg?
Who played the best James Bond ever?
Jelly vs. Jam
Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?
Paleo vs. Keto
Do plants have feelings?
Blake or Miranda?
N’SYNC v. NKOTB (wow, that’s a tough one)....
Oh wait, I think I’m starting to date myself over here… Moving onwards… pay no attention to me sitting in front of a square box tv watching NKOTB. Wait, they are still really together!
Yes, the list could go on forever… Because, guess what? Everyone does seem to debate everything nowadays. Ha, would who have thought?
We even debate on Twitter if an award show was totally awesome? Or was it horrible and the worst award show that ever aired on network television? In fact, now we debate not only who the host of the award show should or should not be, but if there should be a host at all? Huh?
And we have all this before even mentioning politics. The dreaded word. Lest we all forget the upcoming presidential debates ahead of us this year - yes, an official presidential election year. It looms ahead of us, taunting us all. Ahhhmmm… whether we like it or not, it’s all coming, and it’s all coming for us.
Yes, we are alive during a very interesting time… Or wait, is this time period actually interesting? Maybe we’re not even really alive? Maybe we live in a simulation. You’ve heard about that one, right? Or maybe we’re living and breathing inside an alternative universe - right now. And yep, you can easily fall into a YouTube rabbit hole on that one… Do we live in a UNIverse or do we live in a MULTIverse? THAT - is the question. Or do I have too much time on my hands? That - might be the question also.
But any way you shake it, if you are in need of a debate topic for a school project, the list is nearly endless. NO ONE should fail debate class nowadays. It should be a minute and mere impossibility.
Or should it?
So with most everything and anything up for debate today, I’m throwing my hat in the ring.
With all the seriousness going on everywhere, how’s about a good old-fashioned and silly and completely useless and utter waste of time and ridiculous debate. A debate that no matter who wins and who loses, the world won’t end. The loser won’t cry. And the winner didn’t actually even win anything? Cause, guess what else? I Don’t even have a trophy to present.
So to the loser, I say here and now: No hard feelings. It’s all just for laughs… Well - and to give me something to do...
So earlier this week I decided to go on a couple of outings, all involving donuts... I wanted to conduct a taste test and experiment of my very own. So, my husband and I played out my first ridiculous challenge of 2020. And I am hereby calling it:
“The Very Official And Quite Serious Donut Debate of 2020”
Nope, I’m not here to talk politics. Nor the Golden Globes. Nor the Oscars. Nor the Twitterverse. Nor even the Universe V. Multiverse theory. I’m simply here to talk about donuts.
And to make matters even more nonsensical and useless and to waste even more of everybody's time and efforts - I was completely biased going in, and I had many preconceived notions... How dare I?
I thought I knew who was gonna win, and I was overly confident in who I thought would lose. Yes, I was completely biased. And bias is allowed. Cause guess what? It’s all for F.U.N.
I mention my bias, my preconceived notions, etc. because at the end of the day the winner actually surprised me. Honestly. Yes, I was wowed by one, and I was under-wowed by the other. And the winner was NOT at all who I thought it was going to be.
Here’s my bias:
First of all, I LOVE donuts. Yes, I love donuts so much that people have made fun of me about it many times in the past. I am the donut girl. Long story. Not relevant. No big deal.
But, anyways, I love donuts. So, naturally, I love Dunkin Donuts. Or, ‘Dunkin’ as they are calling themselves nowadays. I know and love their coffee, and I know and love their donuts. I know how many calories are in their donuts and how to plan their donuts into my day no problem without gaining a bit of weight. Cause since we’re talking scientific theories today, weight maintenance is all about the Calories IN V. Calories OUT theory.
And, here’s my preconceived notions:
I always assumed Krispy Kreme was THE BEST. And I have NEVER ever, once ever, been to a Krispy Kreme. Did I mention never?
I know, I know…. How does someone who loves donuts not once have stepped their feet inside a Krispy Kreme?
It’s possible. Because I have never been to a Krispy Kreme until this week, for this challenge.
And, again, I just assumed through my preconceived notions and probably through their very good marketing strategy throughout the years that reflected upon me a highly sought-after and nothing-like-it-on-this-Earth quality donut.
So, I decided that I wanted to finally try Krispy Kreme, and see if they measured up to my beloved Dunkin. My forever faithful, my forever reliable, my delicious, and my heavenly, Dunkin.
So, naturally, step one of my challenge meant that I needed to go to Dunkin. Because it all starts at Dunkin. I needed to purchase their plain original glazed Dunkin Donut to try before trying the exact same at Krispy Kreme.
And yes, we ate a lot of donuts this week, and all for the sake of the written word, or for science. My tummy thanks you for the opportunity to present this completely educational and very scientific information to you.
So off we went to Dunkin. One large hot latte for myself at 130 calories (my favorite drink of the moment), and one large iced latte for the hubby - who doesn’t need to count a single calorie... so none will be listed here.
We each tried one original glazed, which clock in at 260 calories per donut. Good. Great. The best ever. According to me.
Hubby thinks they are just fine - he is not at all passionate about donuts like I am, so this answer was exactly what I expected from him.
Dunkin is busy. Always. Very busy. We always wait in a line - during the morning commuter rush. No complaints, just mentioning because they seem to have a large fan base. There are always customers. And, most all of the tables are taken inside the small shop on Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. As just as many people sit and linger, and talk, or work on the WiFi, as they do take their orders and run out the door with them. After all, American Runs On Dunkin, right?
Up next - Krispy Kreme. The next morning - same time of day. To finally try my first original glazed, fresh out of the fryer. The original. The classic. Since 1937.
So there we off and went, and actually left the island… “Over the Ditch” as the locals say.
So over the river and through the woods we went. Or over the Intracoastal and through the swamps. Same thing. Until I had finally arrived for the first time in my entire life at a Krispy Kreme. Specifically, the Krispy Kreme in the city of Jacksonville, Florida - the one on Atlantic Boulevard.
They were busy but not too busy. There was always someone placing an order, but only one table out of all the many was actually taken. Almost the entire dining room area was empty. Most everyone took their orders to go, and no one stayed, or lingered, or worked or conversed, even for a second. It was buy and run. And most ordered a box of a dozen - Just as we did.
We asked for two coffees and a dozen original glazed @ 190 calories per specimen placed atop the Bunsen Burner.
They immediately proceeded to inform us their coffee machines were broken and they could not serve us any coffees, lattes, espresso, or even any of their delicious and temptation-filled-looking frozen drinks - etc.
I was crushed. I can’t even tell you how crushed. If there’s anything I love more than donuts - it’s coffee. My laboratory might have well just exploded in my face. Ouch!
So, minus our coffee, we proceeded to sit at the counter overlooking the bright and sunny day outside the window. And we took our dozen shiny specimens and tried them hot and fresh, straight out of the fryer, and straight off the belt.
They were good. But that’s just it. They didn’t wow me! They were simply good. Immediately I was completely shocked at myself. I was expecting to be blown away. I was expecting to tell myself that these were the best donuts I ever ate and that I would be needing them in my life, every single day. For the rest of my life. But, Nope. They were just “fine” to me.
And not only were they just fine, they had a strange aftertaste. In each bite. I naturally attributed this taste to the donut coming straight off the conveyor belt? And I thought I’d wait it out before trying another one. To see if that taste went away?
So after I ate one whole donut very, very hot, and had this realization, I immediately decided I would try my next one well after they were cooled off. To taste the difference based on the temperature of the donut. All for research purposes, of course.
So we went home, and I placed the donuts delicately on top the kitchen counter.
And there they sat… thumbing their fingers at me... just waiting… yep, begging to be devoured. And still fresher-than-fresh mind you. They were just letting off some steam, I guess.
So, later that day I succumbed to all temptation and tried my next specimen, my room-temperature Krispy Kreme original glazed donut. And to my sincere shock and great surprise, that donut utterly and completely WOW - ed me. It really tasted a literal THOUSAND times better than the first one!
Ok…..? So, I just don’t like HOT donuts? I asked myself. I guess I like ‘normal’ temperature donuts?
And without even mentioning as much to the hubby… he then came along and tried his second donut. And he said the same exact thing. Wow! They are much better cooled off.
So, there ya go. We were both in agreement as to the fact that we did not care for the hot donuts. But we both loved them cooled off, after they had a chance to breathe fresh air before consumption.
Turn the page, will you?
The very next day came along.
And we both tried ‘day-old’ donuts...
Even better, yet again. 1000% better than the previous 1000% upgrade! Wow!
So basically, I came to the conclusion that the hot ones tasted like fried dough, from a carnival booth, which I love, but also with some strange and funky aftertaste. And the older ones tasted like a real, normal donut. A really good donut, an amazingly good and delicately frosted donut. And the older the donut got, the farther away that aftertaste was in my mouth.
So after all that, I really was genuinely surprised. I challenged myself to try Krispy Kreme for the first time. I sincerely thought that after one bite I would fall in love and tumble into and under a terrible spell and never to be awakened. But alas, that was not the case.
I still loved Dunkin better. Yes, even though Krispy Kreme did WOW me. I guess it’s all because they didn’t WOW me right away. I went all the way there to truly be wowed by their donuts. But that didn’t happen till much later on. And let’s not forget about the coffee - although I understand they can’t help that their machines were down. But Dunkin - omg - I love their every donut, I love their coffee selection. And I love that they are just about anywhere and everywhere you need them to be. And I love that their coffee machines have never been down on me once. I just - LOVE them.
And even though I loved the Krispy Kreme better the older it got, I still favored Dunkin after all that. After all said and done. And eaten.
Of course, I’m being completely biased, and to be completely fair I totally understand that I may have arrived at a Krispy Kreme for the first time in my life on the very day their coffee machines went down, and much to my detriment. However, the donuts just weren’t that ‘special’ to me. They were normal. They were not “leveled up” as I sometimes say. They did not wow me in any way - except - in the act of comparison to itself as it changed temperature - the thing that did WOW me was the difference in taste between a hot donut and a room temperature donut. That was the only real and true wow Krispy Kreme gave me.
I did like them enough that I will go back though. In fact, we purchased the dozen this week on a coupon they sent us in the mail for $5.99 per dozen. And our receipt revealed that deal gave us $3.00 off. And then, so ironically and only one day later after our scientific experiment concluded, and after never receiving Krispy Kreme coupons in my life until just this past month, yet another coupon arrived in the mail. Giving us a few dollars off a future dozen.
So, I’ll be back. And I’ll get that coffee I missed out on too. And I’ll be sure to try some other flavors in that dozen… like some frosted, and some sprinkled. And I’ll fill you in, if you want to be filled in on my future findings? After all, what’s a scientific experiment without repeat trials?
But for now, I’m sticking with my reliable and consistent Dunkin Donuts.
Dunkin - who is never far away from me.
Donuts - that always wow me with every bite.
Latte - that is my drink of choice for the time being.
All in all, and to summarize my findings, I hereby present and give to ‘Dunkin’ the award for best glazed original donut - over Krispy Kreme, coming in a not-far-behind second place, with a very doughy taste. Both were wonderful. But Dunkin is my go-to, and like I said... I guess I’m just completely biased.
I went into it all thinking Krispy Kreme was going to win, hands down. Thinking I’d be awestruck by them. To go over the moon for them. But that did not happen. And Dunkin it was for me, and still is. And that shocked me too.
So while this was all for fun, and our tummies consumed much deliciousness and many calories all for nothing really except this herein stated conclusion, maybe we all can take something away from this today.
Maybe we all can just laugh at ourselves more… and hate ourselves less. Maybe we all can be nicer to one another… and more forgiving of one another... Maybe we can all sit atop the counter for a while… and let off some steam before taking our next bites. After all, things might taste very different after some time has passed.
And so to conclude today’s task at hand, while I can tell you which donut I like better - please, please, PLEASE - don’t ask me to choose between Kate and Meghan. I’m begging you. That’s much too serious a topic; and I just can't do it. I love them both equally... There are some things in this world that just aren’t up for debate. ~
Hey! You there -
For more stories like this one above, check these out while you’re at it, why don’t ya:
21) Cinottis ~ And Why Life Is Too Short To Not Eat Donuts
17) Fall Flavors ~ Six Simple Steps I’m Taking This Fall To Maintain My Massive Weight Loss
7) My ‘Before & After’ ~~ How A Single Act Of Kindness, Lime Bubly, And MyFitnessPal Helped Me Lose 77 Pounds In One Year
It’s winter y’all. And while it’s still pretty darn warm here in Florida at the moment, I’ve become so acclimated to the intense and fire-breathing dragon which is our summer heat, that right now it might as well be winter in Chicago. Any drop on the thermometer, even a pinch, and I’m absolutely freezing!
No joke. Like, for real.
And, I never enjoyed wearing sweaters. One year, many Christmases ago now, and after I was married, I received all sweaters for Christmas. All sweaters, and nothing more. Everybody who gave me a gift that holiday gave me a sweater. By the end of the evening on Christmas Day, I was literally drowning in sweaters sitting upon my lap.
I didn’t even ask for sweaters.
But sweaters I did get.
And to make matters even worse, my husband received all sweaters as well.
My mother-in-law correctly deemed it... ‘The Year Of The Sweater’ … and she really was absolutely right.
It remains to this day, one of the funniest things she ever told me, and it was all just so very true.
I’m not sure if anyone else on Earth has ever received as many sweaters for gifts as my husband and I both did that holiday a long time ago.
And for years afterward, I could not even look at a sweater without thinking of The Year Of The Sweater. I basically hated and despised sweaters since that infamous day of unwrapping all that extremely itchy wool I was then surrounded by and being suffocated from.
I mean, it could be well below zero outside, and I could be driving in a car with the windows rolled down, and I still would not succumb to the temptation of a nice and beautiful looking sweater that happened to be sitting next to me on the car seat. If it was a sweater, I was NOT wearing it.
Fast forward to today.
Living in Florida.
It’s beautiful. All year round. No joke. It’s perfection. I feel like I’m living in a paradise, or Heaven, or some combination thereof. I'm so used to the perfect weather that when the temperature takes a dip, I wear more layers than I’ve worn in my entire life, combined.
I could very easily be teleported to the Arctic tundra, and Santa Claus would hire me on the spot to work for him in his outdoor garden, simply because he wouldn’t need to buy me the standard uniform that would need to be worn in the elements. I’d already be wearing it. I’m ready for the cold.
So, yes, finally, at long last, the sweater has come back into my life. And it sits there and laughs at me with every breath I take.
It could be 69 degrees out here in Jax Beach, and I’m frozen solid.
And this winter is the worst yet - in terms of clothing. I’m in my third year living in The Sunshine State, and I was so desperate when the temperature took a slight dip that I had to go out and buy a big winter down puffy coat to get through the coldest days and nights.
And now, I’ve resorted to complete and total desperation while at home.
I currently take perfectly clean and dry sweaters, put them into the dryer, simply to get them feeling nice and toasty - steamy ... hot.
I RUN to the dryer the instant it buzzes me, and I wisk open the door of the magical appliance. I grab for the hot sweater, and hurl it around me. And then, what the heck, I might even throw on another layer. Then, finally, I can get back to work in my art studio, and I can actually concentrate. I’m from Illinois - and I’m now in Florida sitting under layers of blankets and sweaters with palm trees and perfect blue skies outside my window - I’m absolutely pathetic.
So naturally, while wearing sweaters, long pants and slippers, what does one eat when it’s a cold and frigid 70 degrees outside?
Soup. Of course. Minestrone Soup.
Today, I’m very happy to share with you my minestrone recipe that I have been making for years and years. It’s probably one of my favorite recipes that my husband and I both make together. It’s reliable, it’s consistent and tastes the same every time, it’s easy, and it’s very healthy.
I would say this recipe is a combination of my mother’s minestrone recipe, the internet’s soup, and our soup - rolling all those ideas into one perfect pot. We’ve tweaked it many times, and the recipe below is the one that is deemed perfection by my taste buds. So, we finally never waiver from this, our very perfect Minestrone Soup.
Also, I’ve done the calculations on MyFitnessPal, and at only 239 calories making 8 servings, it's not even heavy on the calories. And did I mention that it’s very healthy?
When we lived in Illinois, we tended to make this soup more so only in the winter months, as we tended to grill out every chance we’d get throughout the entire summer period.
But it IS winter in Florida, y’all.
So, as I freeze under fleece blankets and heavy sweaters, we desperately needed a hot soup to eat. We proceeded with the task, and dug out our biggest pot on New Year’s Day. Sometimes we make a big pot of chili on New Year’s, but this year, I needed soup. It called to me as much as I needed the warmth of a sweater straight from the dryer.
And I tend to think the best thing about this recipe is the week full of leftovers it will leave you with. (In our two person and one furry creature household, we have the first main dinner, and then about three nights of leftovers, both eating one bowl per night).
And I always recommend making a pot of soup on a Sunday. It’s the best day of the week for soup. On Sunday’s while you tend to your chores around the house, you can enjoy the scent of the long, slow simmer on the stovetop. But better than that, you have leftovers for the work-week ahead of you. So Sunday it is for us. Or New Year’s Day.
So this year, cold as we were, we enjoyed a nice, leisurely New Year’s holiday at home. Our little sous-chef helped us out in the kitchen…. It’s really important and vital to the entire kitchen operation that you hire such a chef. Your soup might not turn out correctly without one on staff.
And as our soup simmered long, and slow, and low atop the stove, we went through the annual routine of packing up and storing away all our holiday decor for the season.
I’m a huge fan of leaving everything up through the new year holiday if we can help it. So barring any trips or scheduling issues that would prevent us, we always take down the tree and pack everything up for the season on New Year’s Day.
We used to be completely dependent on the weather in Chicago as to when all our outdoor decor came down. If given a window of ‘nice’ weather, we had to go outside and take everything in before the world froze up again. Otherwise, we could be so unlucky as to potentially have everything sit out there until March or some other crazy date. So now I absolutely love that living here in the South the weather is not a factor to anything in terms of my household schedule.
I also took every item out of my plastic storage bins, and gave each bin a deep clean. By the time I was done with the entire process, my storage bins were clean enough to slap a pizza on top and eat right off of the plastic if one wanted. Clean AND organized, on New Year’s Day. Such a bonus.
We also purged a few older items, donating them to charity. Out with the old, in with the new. I try not to let clutter pile up until it’s unmanageable.
Overall, we had a very relaxing and productive New Year’s holiday. The soup made the day though. And as we sat down to dinner that holiday evening, watching Blue Bloods Season Eight on DVD, I was sitting under layers of blankets to keep warm during our Florida winter. And as I watched NYPD PC Frank Reagan sit at the head of his dining room table during one of the infamous Reagan family Sunday dinner scenes, surrounded by all of his kids and grandkids, including my favorite television character of all time, Danny Reagan, I couldn’t help but notice that Frank tends to almost always wear the same straw colored, button-down, cable-knit sweater to family dinner each Sunday. ~
Bean’s Minestrone Soup Recipe
For more of Bean’s recipes - click below:
~ Bean’s Soulful Southern Chili ~
1/3/2020 0 Comments
I hope these first few days of your 2020 have been fabulous. I imagine that you have been rising early, with desire and intent, looking at the sun, and planning out the wonderful day that lies before you.
And now that 2020, as well as a new decade, is finally upon us, this year means one thing and one thing only… James Bond comes back to the big screen! Yes, that’s right folks. And you know something strange about that? Bond never seems to get old, his looks never change, and he’s always in shape. It’s one of the great mysteries of life. I’m fairly confident that he holds the secret to a long and healthy existence - despite being tortured and shot at on a semi-regular basis.
His favorite hobby is resurrection though, so I guess it all makes some sense.
And while most of us can’t keep up with Bond, we shouldn't be trying to either.
We should be out there living our own lives to the best of our abilities.
I wanted to start the year off with some tips for a better YOU. Some of these may be refreshers to you, some may be common sense, and some may be curious and new ideas. The tips, ideas, and calls to action below are basic, they are self-explanatory, and they are quite simply - easy.
But sometimes, putting easy ideas into action is a difficult task indeed.
I tend to think it’s because lots of people are running on the all-or-nothing train. And I’m here to tell you to get off that train right now; and to instead hop on board the all-encompassing train. While the all-or-nothing train is all about doing or dying, the all-encompassing train does it all without dying while on the ride.
While the world may not ever be enough, you can make the world everything and more, if only you want to.
So grab that remote, and turn off The Doctors, and don’t listen to Dr. No either.
You can make continual changes to improve your life, and these changes don’t need to be tackled all at once. Plus, they don’t have to be bold, harsh, rash, or dramatic changes. I basically mean that you don’t have to do something extreme to see and feel an improvement in your life.
Simply take what you like from the below pointers, and leave what you don’t. But just know that making a continual effort toward self-care is better than no effort. And that making a tiny effort, each and every day, may be much more beneficial than making a huge lump-sum effort come January one, and then quitting at some point after the first of the year comes and goes. Never quit on self-care, and never quit on YOU.
You don’t have to tackle or even master all twenty of the the below bullets to help improve your life. It is simply my recommendation to you, based on how these tips have helped me practice self-care, and practice giving to others, and really to help me lead an all-around better life.
To me, nothing on this list below is new. And that’s EXACTLY why I wanted to share this with you. While not new, they are also not old or outdated. I practice each one of these ideas ALL.THE.TIME. They’ve helped me have great success, and I want you to benefit from my experience in any way that I can help. So, while, like I said, none of this is new to me, at the beginning of each year I always go through my goals and aspirations for the upcoming year. These 20 are my keepers.
I have been actively doing this for a few years now, and have only been increasing and improving upon it all over time. If you are curious as to HOW I have been living my very best life, every single day, these 20 simple tips are a major factor. And each of them on their own, is one small act. I talk a lot about how small acts can become something grand. I’m simply presenting you with examples of small acts.
The list below is not in any particular order. Because life doesn’t happen in order. So, here’s 20 tips to help kick your 2020 into high gear. Also, shhhh… this list is For Your Eyes Only:
1] STOP Resolving... And START Goal Setting.
Not everything needs to be done on January ONE. Life happens during the year too. There are 364 other days in the year. Make each one of them as important to you as how you feel come January the first few days in January. And live to die another day.
2] Move More.
Yes, move more. It’s that simple. Stand up. Sit down. And stand up again.
Q gave me the best tool in his arsenal a while back: The Apple Watch.
I firmly believe is the best tool out there for movement. Hands down. I’ve had a Fitbit for years. And I’ve had Apple Watch now for years. I will not be who I am today without my Apple Watch. I’m not dependent on my watch in any way, but I also believe it is a fabulous TOOL.
And tools don’t have to become crutches. You can live with something every day, and if the power goes out, still know you need to move. You don’t NEED the watch. You may WANT the watch though. Don’t be dependent on it to tell you to move, but once you do start moving, you will simply keep going.
But however you get moving, just get started. It is simply my recommendation that the Apple Watch was Q’s best development in his research facility. It is the Quartermaster’s best tool he could possibly ever give a OO on his way out the door as he departs for his next mission.
3] Build Momentum.
Building momentum is literally built upon the previous step. After you have started movement, or taken on a new action, it becomes easier to build upon that action… To keep going… That’s momentum. Once you start moving, more movement will follow. Allow your body to build that momentum, slowly, and just keep going. So grab a set of keys to the bold and fancy Aston Martin, and hit the gas pedal for a wild ride amongst all the spies.
4] Make fitness a priority.
And this one builds on the previous two. Start moving, build momentum, keep moving. Once you are moving, fitness follows. Fitness does not have to be extreme - and it can really just be all about making movement in your life a priority.
It’s kinda like how James Bond is really, really good with a deck of cards… He didn’t just magically become a good card player, he has had years upon years of regular practice, right? He really seems to make the game a major priority in his life. Whether he’s working or on vacation, he seems to keep the game a part of his day. That’s how you should treat fitness. As part of life, regardless of where you are at, make it a priority.
5] There are no cheat days to any place worth going.
Poor James Bond, he never gets a day off. Even when he’s on vacation, M finds him wherever he may be. He is always needed in some fashion. He can never truly go out on a luxury yacht, in the Italian Riviera, without MI6 bothering him in some way.
Bond may think he’s on vaca, but the government knows they own him. He can never escape their wrath and their power.
There are no days off while living a healthy lifestyle. Going back to the beginning. There are 365 days in a year. Not 1, and not 364 other days. Make EACH day a healthy day. There are no cheat meals because… There are no cheat days in life. Make each meal, and each day, as important as the next. This doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself, or eat anything you want in moderation. It’s simply about lifestyle. And lifestyle means repetition, routine, balance, and moderation. Live life every day, the healthy way.
6] Cook More - Process Less.
The more time you spend in the kitchen, the healthier you will be for it. The next time you want to hit the McDonald’s drive thru, just be bold and tell your taste buds you’re giving them some time to contemplate their life.
And spend some real quality time in the kitchen.
Drive home instead of drive thru. Drive as fast as Bond does, away from that fast-food joint, and head straight into your own garage.
Then cook something amazing, even if it’s a bag of frozen steamable green beans in the microwave that Q gave you. You will be so proud of yourself, your tummy will thank you, and you will realize you hold all the power. You have all the tools you need. You have all the tricks already at your disposal.
7] Don’t drink your calories. Period.
Simple. Or, Drink Less Calories. I tend to think James goes heavy on the drink. It may be one area of his life he can improve upon?
8] Drink More Water.
Whether it’s 8 glasses a day, a large tumbler full, or you drink straight out of a gallon, add water into your lifestyle. If you don’t like water, tell you brain:
Or, “So What.”
And get over it, and get chugging.
This one time, James drinks a poisoned drink. But then, you know what? He saves his own darn life afterward while he was dying. Well, Vesper and others help. But he does help save himself too. It was a very famous scene in Casino Royale, and I’ll never forget watching it the first time. And every time I do watch that scene, I still breathe a sigh of relief when it’s over. Why is that? Every time I see it I know he saves himself, he survives... I guess I just think at one point he may do something different? Or maybe he won’t even drink the poison in the first place?
Get over the boring taste of water, and save your own life with it. I believe in tough love sometimes and I think this is a real tough one for some, and may be real easy for others. But it will change your life, and anything that changes your life is a bit tough to handle at first. I promise you’ll start to like it after a while. And your body will be glowing from the inside out with the healthy vibes you’ll be giving off. So stop with all the sugary drinks, all the Coke, and all the poisons and digitalis, and detox your life, and save your own life, with one of Earth’s greatest gifts. Water.
9] Learn to Love Black Coffee.
Did you know black coffee has zero calories?
I went from being a full on large Dunkin coffee cream and sugar drink person to a zero calorie plain The Best Part Of Waking Up IS Folgers In Your Cup kind of a gal. If I can do it, you can do it. And the best part of it is I LOVVVVE the new me. I wouldn’t trade my Folgers, or basic store brand coffee grounds for anything. It really is the best part of my day - scooping out those grounds into my basic Mr. Coffee pot each and every morning.
You CAN acclimate to black coffee. Even if you don’t like it at the beginning. I promise. And the sky won’t really fall either.
There is much power in the pen.
We - meaning us humans - are a whopping 40% more likely, or even more, to act upon something if we write it down. ON PAPER. And - Nope, your phone apps do NOT count on this one. Buy yourself a journal. It’s a treat to your body. It can be the fanciest, funnest, brightest colored journal that comes with a thousand stickers included, or it can be a notebook from the Dollar Tree. Either way, just find some paper. The kind made from wood, and not from a digital keyboard that floats away into the digital diary you keep yet you can never find in your cloud... This message will self-destruct in five seconds...
Oh wait - wrong film franchise.
But really, just things down. Every day. Write your goals, write your thoughts, write the list of books you want to read this year. Write a good old fashioned Rory Gilmore pro-and-con list. Write anything. Write everything. Use your goldenfingers if you must. You’ll thank yourself later.
11] Read REAL books.
Again with the paper here: Books on paper. One of the finest gifts you can give yourself is the act of taking the two hard-bound covers of a book, closing it after finishing it, and telling yourself how much you enjoyed what happened in between those two book covers.
I’ve got nothing on Bond for this one. It’s just that important. No joke.
12] Burn MORE candles - And burn LESS anger.
Candles set the mood.
Bond was really into mood-setting.
Think of candles as an important factor that adds to the setting and character development of a good story.
A form of self-care for YOUR character.
So Light one. All. The. Time - if you must. Invest in cheapo ones straight from the dollar store, from your favorite candle shop, or even from your local farmers market.
Right now, I’ve been tending to love the ones from any farmers market I happen to visit. They will most likely cost a tad more money, but with that purchase you are supporting a small business venture in the process, and they are almost always 100% all natural, which means safer for you to breathe in too.
So never feel bad about burning a good quality candle, and treat yourself. And become a happier person soaking in all the good vibes that fire brings into your home. Mood. Set.
13] Bake something delicious.
And share the creation with someone you wouldn’t normally share it with… A neighbor you rarely see. A friend whose house you drive past all the time, but you rarely if ever stop on over. Or the evil villain who wants to destroy the world with a nuclear bomb. Go ahead and drop a plate at their doorstep, with a note that says ‘Hello!’
Tip - the barista extra for no reason whatsoever other than to pay it forward.
Give - extra to the server who was too busy to spend a lot of time on your table.
Give - More.
Give - what you don’t have.
Give - when you don’t want to.
Give - when you don’t have the time.
Give - when you don’t have the strength.
Give - when it’s the hardest.
Give - Solace.
I promise you will get back what you give to the world even when you think you have nothing to offer.
15] Try a new hobby. Easy.
Sign up for a class, join an interesting and intriguing new club, go to a craft store, join a book club. Watch a film you’ve never seen before. Or paint a canvas… It may become a life-changing experience. And, if it doesn’t change your life, I promise it will add some benefit to your day, and... boom, that rocks, just like a thunderball.
16] Get on your social media - and then got OFF your social media.
Set time-limits for social media. And/or scheduled times of day to check it. Don’t randomly check and scroll throughout any random time of day and night. Key word here being random.
Make and commit to a designated time frame that you will be amongst the Twitterverse or the Insta or the Zuck or YT or the pin boards. See it, conquer it, and then, most importantly, GET OFF IT. And then Get Going with your own life. I promise you, this will change your life.
While it’s not impossible to live without social media - in fact, I took a long 69 week break from it all at one point - it has become increasingly difficult for most people to maintain a social media-free existence if you want to remain at all social nowadays. It’s just how people communicate, it’s how people find out about events, it’s how people stay connected to friends and relatives who live great distances away. And it’s free...
But remember this… just as freedom isn’t free, the “free” social media apps on your phone do come with a hefty price. Your time.
How valuable is your time to you?
Do the social thing…
Do the media thing…
But then do your OWN thing.
Life is not lived on the phone. But the phone can be utilized as a great tool. Just don’t use that tool as the key to your own survival on this planet.
So get on the social, then get off the social, and live the life that is for your eyes only.
17] Pet your dog.
Or your cat - as you plot to take over the entire world.
Or feed your fish; watch them swim in their tank.
Look down at your pooch and look deep down into the eyes that are always looking straight up at you for everything. See the world from your furry babies point of view. Perspective matters. It’s important to view the world from a different vantage point. And if you don’t have one, consider getting one. Dog - or point-of-view, that is.
18] Say NO to more stuff.
And say YES to a simpler existence.
Follow the rule of one in and one out.
Don’t buy what you don’t need, unless you can use it to really benefit your life in some manner.
Learn the power of your voice with the almighty dollar.
And remember that diamonds are forever.
19] Invest in yourself when you wake up - even if it means waking up a tiny bit earlier.
Get up before the living daylights.
20] Stop wanting and start obtaining.
Nothing on this list matters a bit if you don’t start to take some action. So get out there, and start DOING.
Don’t just breathe,
And don’t just survive.
You don’t just live twice.
So don’t just die another day.
And don’t just make it through another day of life - make your life make it through another day with you.
Get out there and live.
Remember, you have a license to kill - it. ~
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