Monday, September 26, 2016

Sunday in Kissimmee - Last day of our "mini" vacation.

Sunday was really a fun day.

After morning coffee and waking up, our first stop of the day was at McDonald to grab a quick breakfast.  Nothing big, because tonight would be an all you can eat buttet!!!  So we had a sausage breakfast burrito ( he had TWO) and a hash brown and continued on.............

To the Osceola County Pioneer Village.

  "The Pioneer Village is comprised of a permanent collection of authentic structures which, once upon a time, stood in different areas of Osceola County.  They were carefully relocated to the present location and gently preserved to demonstrate how life was once lived before our modern times."

I really enjoy museums ( well not all of them ) and love looking back in history.  This is definitely not one of Rich's most favorite things to do - but he came along today -   to make me happy!

First stop was the blacksmith shop.


The Tyson House - was built in 1882.  The Tyson's were a farming family in Osceola Country.   "This family had 11 children, and at one point 11 members of the family lived in the single room dwelling."  !!!   Makes you kind of appreciate what you have today!


Seminole Village  After three wars with the Seminole Tribe..there were about a few hundred Seminols remained in the isolated areas of Osceola Country.  Their dwellings are called chickees, an open round-log wood frame with a thatched gable roof, with a platform about 3 feet off the ground.Palmetto logs support the roof of thatched palmetto leaves.



This is the Cadman House - a very wealthy family who bought this home and lived there until 1980, with several additions over the years.  Because of the fire stoves, the kitchens were always a separate building.  Two bedrooms with a separate building "bunk house" for the boys.


Packing houses were very popular for the preparation and packing of citrus fruits to be shipped north by train.   The bottom right is a sample school house.


Built in 1889 by the Lanier family, prominent ranchers in Osceola County.  The Cracker House is defined by the center breezeway.  House included a wash house, smokehouse, gardens, barns...........all essential to homesteader life in the 1800's"  Rich on the breezeway...Me in the horse stall.


I am just so fascinated with this time in history.  It would have been awesome to live back in that century........but without the air-conditioning .......it would have to be up NORTH, not here in FL. 

Back to the hotel............we both had to shower after walking in that hot sun for a couple of hours!!!!  And then we headed to Capone's for dinner and show.   

We've been here 3 or 4 other times and have always enjoyed the fun atmosphere and the buffet is not too bad either.  But with this visit we purchased the VIP tickets, which allowed us to arrive early, do a little gambling for prizes, enjoy a free drink from the bar ( I had a delicious Margarita! - Rich, just a beer)  They had horderves ( pizza, nachos and cheese sauce, onion rings.....)  Excellent.  Get seated first and first to the buffet, and two shot glasses to take home. 



As for the show - this was probably the best we've experienced.  Pretty much the same show - but a new cast, and they were sooooooo funny and much better singers.  Very glad we decided to come here!

Headed back home Monday morning..........with just one stop at the Sebring Diner for breakfast!    Unpacked, cooked dinner, and resting before the first presidential debate tonight!   (If I can stay awake that late!)



Saturday in Plant City, FL

My (former) sister-in -law Mary Redder passed away a few weeks ago.  She had been married to my older brother John (Mick) Benjamin who passed away several years prior.  It was in the late 80's, early 90's when the family moved from NY State where we all lived, to Florida and settled in the Plant City area and Mary re -married.    That was the last time that I saw Mary or my 6 nieces and nephews.  Most of them had never met Rich.  We did catch up with one of the six kids, John and his wife Mary for the first time a few month's ago.  Five of the kids still live here in Florida, Plant City, Lithia or up near Clearmont and the other, with her husband moved back to NY State.

We drove from Kissimmee to the funeral home in Plant City, where the memorial service was being held for Mary........It was a beautiful ceremony and two of the children spoke as well as the minister.  It was just unbelievable to see the family.  We were all so young when we last saw each other.  Now all six of them are married, with children, AND grand-children.  So.......at our very young age, Rich and I are already a Great, Great Aunt and Uncle..................many times over!

This is a picture of my nieces and nephews:  back row - left to right:  Kevin, Bonnie, Linda and John.  Front: Steve and Lourie.  This picture was taken at Kevin's home in Lithia.


Following the memorial ceremony the family headed over to Kevin's home for family time and eating.  It was a miserably HOT day - so most everyone changed from their "ceremony" clothes to more comfortable outdoor wear!

There were so many- that we were sitting inside, outside, in the yard, on the porch!!!  And there was every kind of food and dessert imaginable. We enjoyed the laughing and hugging, and even the crying as we met our long lost family.  It was a wonderful, most memorable day.   And we ALL promised to make a point of staying in touch.

A few more pictures of the family:




And the rains came...............................and we headed back to Kissimmee.


Friday at the Rodeo in Kissimmee

Friday was pretty much a work day for Rich so nothing was planned, as far as during the day.  Pretty good breakfast at the hotel so we wandered on down before it closed at 9:30.  We decided to do dinner before we headed to the rodeo instead of just getting something at their concessions stands.  It was one of those days when we were not real sure where we wanted to go, or what we were hungry for.  We saw a Subway, it looked good to both of us................so we stopped.   Unfortunately something was wrong with their registers, they could not ring up anything, take a credit card OR even make change.............so we left.

Just a few doors down was a Pizzeria!  Checked out the menu and decided to give it a try.  Rich ordered a Calzone, which  he said was very good, and I ordered a meatball sub (which is what I wanted at Subway!). I'm don't like mozzarella cheese on my meatballs - so it was not as good as I'd hoped.  

While waiting for our meal, we noticed a Ms. Pac Man Game!  Rich used to always play the Space Invader game - but Ms Pac Man could keep me happy for hours!  Unfortunately - the only thing this one did was eat my quarter! Oh well.


Friday night we headed to the Kissimme Sports Arena Rodeo.   It was looking a whole lot like rain.........but fortunately it passed us by.  We arrived almost an hour before start time, so wandered around a few minutes and decided to go into the lounge for a drink.

It was a really really hot evening - but with the threat of rain we decided to sit in the bleachers with the roof instead of the open!  Despite the hot weather and the hard bleacher seats...........the rodeo was very very entertaining.  Would definitely go back again.  Really hard to get good pictures with the bright lights.....but managed a few.  




Friday, September 23, 2016

An extended weekend.....of FUN we hope!

Made some plans to just get away for a few days - not too far away.  Always something to do in or around the Orlando area, so on Thursday, mid afternoon we packed the car and headed for Kissimmee, FL.   And a couple of hours later we arrived at our hotel.    We've stayed at this hotel 3 or 4 time, the last time, about a year ago.  In the last year - it has really started to go down hill.  Our friends warned us several days ago, and suggested that we cancel our reservations.

Now - having said that it has deteriorated, is true, but the room was still clean, the breakfast was great, the people are friendly and the price was right.  But the place really does need a face-lift.  Our biggest issues - the beds are not real comfortable, and trying to find a place to plug anything in, that is relatively convenient is not real easy.  WORST of all - they have reduced the number of TV stations, particularly the news stations.  The ONLY one we get, is one we NEVER watch - and that's CNN!!!  So you can imagine how happy that made Rich!

Anyway!!!!  We settled in and then headed out for dinner about 5:00.  Had a free $50 gift certificate for the Longhorn Steakhouse.    Dinner was excellent!  Yes - that's right.........even I thought it was excellent.


When we go to Outback - we always order the Blooming Onion.....The closest we could find here was the Texas Tonions...... drizzled with a little sour cream , with a side of nice spicy dip.  Yummy!  Rich ordered the Rib-eye with a loaded baked potato, and I had the 6oz Filet with a Sweet potato.   The meat was so tender it just melted in your mouth.   And the Medium/Rare was just perfect; warm red in the middle.

We decided to head over to Old Town, with the intention of going to the Great Magic Hall for the later showing at 9:00.  We spent a couple of hours wandering the streets.............   Checking out all the unique stores........


And the places for entertainment..........


It was a Thursday night, so there were not a lot of folks around....but it was the parade of Motor Cycles...........and there were tons of bikes there..some really really cool.    And we enjoyed the Golf Carts that were out and about..


By the time we made our rounds, it was only about 8:20, and I could tell that Rich's back was bothering him..........and I don't think either one of us, at this point felt like walking back to the Magic Show.   So we called it a night and headed back to the hotel.

Friday - still a work day for Rich, so we'll probably stay in most of the day.  But plans are to head for the Rodeo Friday night at the Kissimmee  Sports Arena.  Saturday we'll be heading for Plant City, for my sister-in- laws final ritual at the Funeral home, and then to my nephews ( her son's) afterwards.  We'll head somewhere on Sunday afternoon, and then head for Capones Sunday night.



Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dinner with friends...........and Family update.

Not a whole lot going on the past week or so.    That constant, every day thunderstorm is starting to die down, so it's getting that time to start some outside chores.  The days are still pretty darn hot, but we decided to get the cleaning supplies and pull out the hose and get both the front porch and the back lanai cleaned.  It has not been done since the end of May........so both were looking pretty bad.  Top to bottom - the ceiling, the screens the furniture, the floor........



 Twice a month we can put out our pulled weeds, branches etc. to be taken away.  So we did find time to get out and get some weeding done all the way around the house, as well as cut  a few of the bigger branches.

While pulling weeds, Rich made a new friend.  This little one would let pet him.  When he would start to walk away the squirrel would run right back to him.

A busy week for family business too:  Sunday September 11th, my baby brother turned 63. He and his "best bud" celebrated with a sausage/egg croissant, hash browns and coffee at DD's, a three mile/one and a half hour hike at Clark Reservation State Park, and a birthday dinner of Delmonico Steak and Scallops!  Wish we could have been there to help him celebrate!  But I did send him Birthday Greetings and this card from Jake:


 At the same time Dennis and Crystal met up with Dalton at the University in Iowa City for the Iowa Hawkeye's game both on the 10th and again on the 17th!  Dennis is constantly taking selfies..............and always manages to get some pretty good ones.  One of himself - a couple with Dalton, and one with him and Crystal and Dalton on the train to Kinnick Stadium.


Davenport West High School, where Chauna attends, was on lock-down for a few hours because of the proximity of an escaped convict with a gun.  Guy was caught and all were safe - but a bit of a scare!!!

Chauna and her boyfriend Ryan also attended the Homecoming Dance this past week.  A few pictures of our beautiful grand daughter and Ryan  from their special day below!  



Once a month there are six of us that try to get together, at least for dinner.  Rich and I and Buddy and Diane were gone a good part of the summer, so it was May when we last got together.   Buddy and Diane got back just a week ago so we made plans to meet at our favorite place, the Hibachi Grill in Sebring.    Unfortunately, Krystal was having one of her not so good days..............and we really missed seeing her.  But we were so glad that Nathan was able to join us.  We can't wait to get back to their place to visit..........Nathan has built a new target game............for the guys to practice their shooting skills!  


  And just a few days later, on Wednesday, our good friends Nick and Tonyia were passing through Lake Placid, gave us call, and came to visit and show us their new Nissan Altima!   We all decided to head into town for dinner at the Golden Corral.   Can not believe I did not bring my camera!!!!    That's OK - I'll catch them in another week when we head for the Broadway Palm and the Shell Factory in Ft. Myers.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Show Palace and Tarpon Sponge Docks

It's been weeks since I last updated this blog.........but with the exception of the rain and thunderstorms, and watching to see where Hurricane Hermine was heading - not too much going on.    Pretty much just planning some fun get-aways.   Have not even been out for dinner!!!  But we did enjoy a delicious Stromboli one night and Rich tried a new pie crust!!!  He found this recipe for pie crust which called for one Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix, one whole egg and 3 egg yolks, and butter........  He thought about using this for his pumpkin pies on the next Holiday - but decided to try it first.  Plans for Cherry Tarts turned out to be a Cherry Pie.  And as you can see - he's not real good at a two crust pie...................so he just made a Smiley Face!  How was the pie?????  The Cherry filling was delicious..........the crust???? Not too good.


As for the fun-getaways,  I've booked 3 so far.
And on Saturday morning we packed and headed to Sebring to meet up with Nick and Tonyia.  Nick was the driver for the weekend, and after checking out all of the construction underway with the remodel of their home, we packed the car and headed for New Port Richey, where we would be spending the night.

We stopped in Bartow at the Perkins Restaurant for brunch, and despite me not being a big fan of Perkins, I have to admit that everything was very good.   We arrived at the Quality Inn and Suites in New Port Richey, around 4PM and got settled in.  Nice enough hotel - very large, great pool area, and a Lounge/Restaurant.  Unfortunately - our rooms were WAY in the back, and definitely showed a lack of proper housekeeping.  I don't think either of our bathrooms were cleaned!  Rich and Nick grabbed a beer and Tonyia and I opened a bottle of wine.  Plenty of time before we headed to the dinner-theatre.


While Hurricane Hermine came one shore here in Florida a bit further north.... low lying areas along the coast of Tampa Bay did experience some flooding.  We observed a lot of standing water along the roads and neighborhoods both in New Port Richey and on our way to Hudson.


On Saturday evening we had reservations at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson, Fl, and we arrived just before 6:00 PM.  Before dinner we ordered a cocktail, selecting "King of the Road"  which included an ice cream base, Bailey's Irish Cream and root beer, topped with whipped cream, and served in a souvenir hurricane glass that we could take home.   Despite being a little short on the Bailey's - it was delicious!  Dinner was buffet style and included Roast Pork, Crusted Backed Pollock, Lemon Pepper Chicken, Lasagna Rolls, Rice, Mixed Vegetables, and Salad Bar, with Jello, Bread Pudding, or Rice Pudding for dessert.  Food was pretty good.


The show, "Route 66" left a whole lot to be desired.  It was four guys who did nothing but sing ( and not very good) and attempted to dance a little. The staging/props were pretty much what you see in the picture.  It was a bit TOO corny, and far from entertaining.   I've seen more talent in a High School Play!  Pretty much the worst dinner/theater event we've ever attended, and certainly no where near worth the price we paid.  

The next morning we left the hotel a little earlier than planned since the weather station was reporting that several areas were being evacuated because of local flooding.......... I was getting a bit upset - the show was bad enough the night before, and I did not need today to be "wash"!  

And it was not.............. We checked out of the hotel, and got 20% deducted from each of our bills after informing them of the condition of our rooms.  And a half hour later we parked at the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs.



And over the course of the next couple of hours we made our way along the streets, stopping to check out the sponge ships docked along the shore.

We continued on checking out many a shop or bakery  and even stopped for some  Chips on a Stick!

Below are several more of my favorite pictures taken while visiting the docks.


And Nick surely did his share of shopping!


Rich totally agreed that this was 100% ME!



I am standing at the front of this huge, historic Sponge Diving Boat. 


Enjoying some of scenery ...........This one caught Tonyia's eye!



Yes - This is what Rich comes to the Sponge Docks for......... Best Greek Pastries!
( but he did share with all of us!)


Glad that friendly cop came by - and offered to take this one of Rich and I



We didn't do a lot of shopping - but we did take home this beautiful turtle wood chime. 


Nick and Tonyia also took home a wind chime, a beautiful sun dress AND all that stuff Nick was carrying in that other picture!!!  But one more stop before we left to pick up a loaf of Greek bread,


But wait folks............we are NOT done shopping yet!   As we headed for home, Nick wanted to make ONE more stop.  And so we pulled into the Oldsmar Flea Market.   Would have loved to spend the rest of the afternoon wandering through here, but both Tonyia's and Rich's back and legs had had enough for the day...... and Nick had found what he wanted for his yard!


And so we headed for home, crossing the Sunshine Sky Way Bridge.    A beautiful structure across Tampa Bay.................... Last stop was for lunch/dinner at  Cracker Barrel Restaurant before the last leg home.  


Less than a mile from Nick and Tonyia's where our car was parked - the transmission went in their car.  Pretty darn frightening........fortunately we were not traveling at a high speed or it could have been a pretty serious event!

Nick, Tonyia - Hope all goes well with the repair............or replacement vehicle!  Thanks for joining us this weekend.  We always have a great time with you guys!     See you in a couple of weeks in Ft. Myers!!!

Yes - two more trips are planned, and I still need to work in the cataract surgery in between.   Next trip is a four day trip to Kissimmee, Fl.   - just Rich and I this time!  And then to the Broadway Palm in Ft. Myers, again with Nick and Tonyia.  Our good friends Buddy and Diane are back in town - so I expect that the six of us (with Nathan and Krystal) will resume our monthly get togethers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A slow week ..........but enjoyed some time with friends.

Well  Dennis and the family headed out to dinner this week with Dalton's girlfriend, Sara, and Chauna's boyfriend, Ryan before Dalton heads off for collage.  This  family is so close, and does so much together, that I know it's going to be real difficult for Dennis and Crystal to  see Dalton leaving home.    And I'm sure that Miss Chauna will miss her brother, as well. 


As a member of the Iowa State, Hawkeye Marching Band, Dalton needed to head out a couple days early.  His good friend, who he is rooming with, and his girlfriend, Sara will be joining him  the following Thursday

Here's Dennis  at the University with Dalton, saying his "goodbyes"

Good Luck to you, Dalton...........Hang in there Dennis!!

As for Rich and I, this week has been pretty slow.  I had my follow-up with my Gastroenterologist - after my rotor rooter procedure.  All looks pretty good.  A couple of small pre cancerous polyps removed, and evidence of  Diverticulosis forming in the large intestine, so probably a good idea to maintain an even higher high fiber diet, so as to prevent diverticulitis!   They did not discover anything that may be causing the abdominal pain or back pain, but fortunately that has subsided significantly. 

Encountered some reception problems with the satellite for Direct TV, which required some cutting of tree branches from the tree between our house and the neighbors.  Probably as good a time as any for that to happen.  With the exception of the Olympics - not much good on TV - although Rich was having some problems with his news channels. 

With all the recent booking of hotels recently, we earned a couple of free $50 gift cards, so on Tuesday we met up with good friends Nick and Tonyia at the Red Lobster.

Been dark skies and rain most every day, and as we headed for Sebring the skies got very very dark and the lightening was flashing!  Pretty dark looking across Lake Jackson...............But the sun was out and we caught a decent rainbow on the way home. 



  Food was awesome at Red Lobster, and it was really nice just enjoying the atmosphere and catching up with what our friends have been up to.    Rich opted for the Create your own combination, of Garlic Grilled Scallops and Shrimp Linguine Alfredo. Nick went for the Admiral's Feast, Tonyia the Cajun Chicken Alfredo, and I had the Lobster Scampi.  And, of course, here we all are outside, saying our goodbye's. 


I got a very nice surprise phone call today...... Tonyia was heading here to Lake Placid so she made a stop to visit.  We pulled out the Mexican Train  game and she proceeded to beat my in TWO games.   Enjoyed playing and enjoyed the company. 


Hopefully, we can do this a little more often...............or maybe Bingo tomorrow???

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Donald Family HIghlights!

I am ashamed to say that I am so far behind in sharing those special moments,  happy days, celebrations, recognitions, accomplishments........about the family

First - going all the way back to early July when Dalton made the Iowa Hawkeye's Marching Band.   His dad, says it best:

"Proud is only one of many feelings for this moment!  You got mail Dalton....  it's official..... He Did it!!!!  He made the Iowa Hawkeye's Marching Band!!! Rah Rah!  OMG"

"Long story short that's been close hold, a couple weeks ago when he auditioned, he cut his playing hand finger on the music stand setting up for audition & still performed bleeding & overcame that setback & still nailed it!  Road trips for football games but halftime show it's ON!  Go Hawkeye's & Dalton.......Loves you Buddy!"


And on July 30th - my awesome daughter-in-law celebrated her birthday.  Happy Birthday Crystal!  Love and Hugs!  And that little tree is also celebrating - Crystal planted it two years ago, on her birthday!


Moving along to August 4th.  Dennis and Crystal celebrated their 26th Wedding Anniversary.  An awesome couple and super parents.  Love them to the moon!!!


And this year our beautiful grand-daughter is a senior in High School.  WOW... How quickly time passes.  Her Mom shared her senior pictures, taken recently by Aubrey Kall.  She did an amazing job!



That should bring everything up-to-date.......  So Blessed to have such a happy, smart, caring, beautiful family.