Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas in Florida – With Marcia’s Side of the Family

Home in Holiday / Tarpon Springs area, FL

Marcia's side of the family -- Brother Skevos cutting venison

When you get a bunch of Greeks together, there is going to be food.  Here is Marcia’s youngest brother, Skevos, cutting up some freshly smoked venison from a deer that the oldest brother Ted shot just a few weeks prior not far from where they live in Brooksville.  The gathering was at Skevos and his wife LInda’s house, and in the background you can see a spiral-cut ham, and behind him and outside of the picture was shrimp, Greek Salad, Dolmathes (grape leaves wrapped around a meat/rice mixture), Pastitsio (Greek baked pasta dish with ground meat and b├ęchamel sauce) along with some desserts like Karydopita (Greek Walnut Cake).  I did not really look over the desserts…not on our diet, neither was the Pastitsio or Dolmathes, although we both had one Dolmathes each.

Marcia's side of the family  

Most of our activities were in the backyard…which here in Florida you can typically depend upon a 70 degree day on Christmas Eve…which is exactly what we got.  A bit warmer when the sun broke through the cloudy skies…no wind. 

Marcia's side of the family - Marcia's sister Marion and brother Skevos

Pictured left is Marcia’s younger and only sister Marion.  To her left is Nephew Stephen, son of Skevos and Linda…that is Skevos to far right.

Marcia's side of the family - Marcia and sister-in-law Linda

Pictured right is Marcia (with her new walker which she LOVES..she walks much better with it) getting a hello kiss from Skevos’s wife Linda.  


Marcia's side of the family - niece Suzie and child       Marcia's side of the family - brother Skevos and Grandchild

Above is their daughter Suzie with her third and youngest child, and that is Grandpa Skevos to the right.  This was a HUGE surprise because Suzie, husband and kids live near Houston…they left around 4 pm yesterday, drove all night just to surprise them Christmas Eve morning with numerous knocks and door bell pushes.  All they told their kids (the oldest is around 12 years old) was that they were going for a drive…now days with cell phones you can’t depend on everyone keeping a secret!  Skevos is Marcia’s younger brother.  All of these brothers and sister are from her Father’s side of the family…she has another brother from her Mom’s side of the family whom we have had pictures of many times, and that is Dean and his wife Caryl.

Marcia's side of the family - brother Ted and Marcia

Pictured left is Marcia getting a hello kiss from her older (yet younger than her) brother Ted.  In the background is her middle brother Mike, who attends the same church we do, and who watches over our mail and Condo when we are gone.

Marcia's side of the family

Sitting at the table above, lady with long hair is Linda’s sister Suzie who lives about a block away from Skevos and Linda, Ted’s wife Carol, Skevos’s son Stephen (standing) and sister Marion (back to the camera).  In the background left is brother Mike, brother Ted, and Mike’s wife Sandy.  Sitting in background is Ted’s two sons (Randy left and John right) with Skevos’s son-in-law (Suzie’s husband who drove all night coming from Houston) sitting in the middle.

Marcia's side of the family   Marcia's side of the family
Marcia's side of the family

Upper left is some of the grand-nieces.  Interesting fact, the one in black shot her first deer with her first shot at the age of 12, and the next year shot another deer with her first shot bow hunting.  Her dad John had three girls, and she is the only one interested in hunting.  Upper right is brother Mike, Skevos and sister Marion (I don’t know why I got so many shots of Marion’s backside).  The bottom picture above is Ted with wife Carol, and Marcia talking to Linda’s sister Suzie (Linda named her daughter after her sister…a common Greek thing to name children after parents or relatives).   Between them in the background is Mike’s daughter Aly.  She has two boys and another child on the way if all goes well.

Logun and cousin

Pictured left is Aly’s son Logun (Mike and Sandy’s grandson) walking with one of his many cousins.  Logun is autistic, a smart young guy who use to be out of control, but is in much better control now.  He LOVES his hand-held games, and most of the time is very polite.  He always asks about Skruffy, and loves it when Bubba is over at Mike and Sandy’s house where Logun lives with his mother and grandparents.  His brother Braxton has a job at a movie theater, and had to work until 8:30 last night.  And with that, it wraps up another Christmas Eve with Marcia’s family…too numerous to show all, but we had a great day.

Angle from neighbor Mary      Angle on display

Which brings us to Christmas Day.  I can remember the excitement my kids felt waking up and seeing MORE presents under the tree than were there when they went to bed.  Stephanie, my middle child, swore that she heard “Santa and the Reindeers” in the middle of the night…perhaps inspired by a “HO HO HO” and the ringing of a few bells by her daddy.  Today, around 3 pm, we finally decided to open up the gifts given to us by my sister Sandy and by our neighbor Mary.  How surprised we were when we opened this beautiful Angel Snow Globe, which is now on display on the middle of our bottom shelve.  It lights up, and has a small fan moving the snow around. 

Christmas from Sis 

Sis sent us some gifts for the dogs, some Atkins Treats for us, and two coffee mugs with Dave Marcia written all over both of them.

Personalized Couples Coffee Cups

Of course, I had to call her up to give her a bad time that now we will never know whose coffee cup is whose…and, of course, how Bubba will end up with most of the treats since we really have to be careful what Skruffy has due to her diabetes.

Doggie Poop Bags

And the big kicker…that since she only sent us 5 doggie liter bags, it must mean she wants us to have a “short stay” this spring/summer when we go out to visit again….Yep, we get the picture.

Lamb Dinner

Then it was time for our Christmas Dinner.  Boneless Leg of Lamb, Greek Potatoes, and Asparagus.  We do our lamb in a crock pot…and it turns out great every time.  First, you stick garlic cloves into various parts of it, then put olive oil on the lamb, which comes tied together in a string cooking net (we typically get ours at Sams, but other places have it too).  Then Marcia puts her spices on it…Ground Mustard, freshly ground Pepper, small amount of Mint, Onion Powder and Oregano, topped off with some Italian spices she puts together.  It then goes into the crock pot on top of 3 or 4 slices of lemon (with the peel), (we also use a crock pot cooking bag which makes clean up easier), and then put 3-4 lemon slices on top,  set to high for 45 minutes (no preheating).  After that, I stick a meat thermometer in it to get an idea as to where it is…today it was 110.  I then set to warm, and tested again in a hour.  Two hours later it was at 140-145.  I took it out and let it sit while the Asparagus cooks.     Fifteen minutes later cut it, and it was ready to serve.  (Marcia started the Greek Potatoes at 1, 1/2 hour at 325, hour at 225, then just let them stay warm until serving.)  Now we like our lamb as we do our beef, medium rare.  If you want medium, take it out when it hits 155.  If you want it dry and cooked more, well, that is up to you…just leave it in for a day of two if you wish.  ­čśĆ


Merry Christmas Y’all

ps: As for gifts to each other, we typically buy things we have needed or wanted.  The drawer dishwasher and the lift recliner fit that bill this years for us...

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Three Weeks Later…Eating Sherbet?

Home in Holiday / Tarpon Springs area, FL

Jello, Cream Cheese, Whipping Cream

Well, it LOOKS like Sherbet…what it really is something Marcia came up with on her own, although others have made a variant of it with names like Jello Cream Cheese Fluff.  She mixes two small containers (or one large) of sugar-free Jello with 2 cups hot water and 1 cup cold water, mix and put in the Refrigerator until it sets.  Then she puts 6 oz of cream cheese, cut into small squares (to mix easier), 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream, and the set Jello in the Magic Bullet and mixes until it is well blended.  Then pours it into a large mixing bowl, and uses her immersion blender to get it to fluff up more, then back into the fridge.  An hour or two later, it is ready to eat.  WOW, this stuff is GREAT, and it is nearly carb free!  The serving you see above is a bit bigger than our normal serving.  When she makes it, we both get 3-4 servings from the batch.  One ounce of Cream Cheese has less than one carb in it, according to the label.  She puts in 6 ounces, and that makes 6-8 servings…so essentially, each serving has less than 1 carb.  The Jello and heavy whipping cream have no carbs.

Fisher Pakel Dishwasher, Skruffy

Skruffy wants to show off our new dishwasher.

Fisher Pakel Dishwasher

This is the quietest dishwasher I have ever heard…and my sister and Arny have a very quiet one too.  There are two drawers, and you can wash one while filling the other, and then start it when ever you want.  So you can wash one drawer or both drawers at the same time, and it does not matter which one you use first.

Fisher Pakel Dishwasher
Fisher Pakel Dishwasher      Fisher Pakel Dishwasher

There is only one set of controls, all on the top drawer.  The first button will light up the display (so will opening a drawer).  The second button will select which drawer you want to wash, pictured with the white rectangle above the button. In the bottom two picture above, the “Fast” is for the upper drawer, and “Rinse” is for the lower drawer.  The third button selects the type of wash you want to do…46 minutes fast wash is what she likes to use, it does not dry…she likes everything to drip-dry.  The bottom drawer is set for a 15 minute rinse.  The manual says that you should run each drawer at least once every week or two, other wise you open up the drawer and let it sit until you get back from your vacation.  So we just run a quick 15 minute rinse once a week or so for the bottom drawer…typically with nothing in it.

Fisher Pakel Dishwasher      Fisher Pakel Dishwasher
Fisher Pakel Dishwasher      Fisher Pakel Dishwasher

Above you can see the other types of washes.  All types of washes are available for each drawer, and you select the type by pushing the button right under the numbers.  You can also push the second and third button at the same time to make changes to the length of time of some of the wash choices.

Fisher Pakel Dishwasher

The last button starts the washer.  You can use either liquid or granule soap in the dispenser, or if you use the solid squares or balls, you can put them in a special holder that sits above the silverware holder.  You add a liquid rinse aid, and when it runs out, a small light right by the soap dispenser will light up telling you it is time to add more.

Lift Recliner Massage Chair

I really like our new chair.  It was easy to put together, took me about 40 minutes.  It is also very quiet when it moves, but there is a hum when the massage is running. 

Zero-G RV Hose     Zero-G RV Hose

It is time for a new hose for the motorhome, and heard about this neat new hose, it has been around for a couple of years.  It has real good reviews, and it will be much easier to store.

Bluetooth Solar Speaker

In looking over Black Friday Week on Amazon, I came upon this neat little speaker.  It is bluetooth, connects to our Kindles, is solar charged (or it can charge via a standard phone charger), and also connects to a phone.  Sometimes we are traveling on a Sunday and we want to watch/listen to our church service via the Internet…but the sound is too weak.  This will be perfect.

Prepaid Jetpack

Heard about Verizon’s new “no contract” Prepaid Unlimited Data plan, $65 per month if you autopay, and a new aircard/Jetpack for $49 (one payment only).  Right now our 40 gigs of data runs us $150 per month…and we are locked into using that aircard for 5 more months…but we are NOT locked in at the 40 gigs.  But that 40 gigs is a promotional price…once we let it go, we can’t get it back at that price, which is normally $300 per month.  So we got our new prepaid Jetpack today, and if it works for the rest of the month, I will drop our 40 gig plan down to 1 gig, which will run us $30 per month…and in May, drop it completely, saving the $30 and the $20 monthly connection fee.  Also, since this plan is unlimited…we hope to be able to drop our house connection saving another $100+ per month.  The only shortfall with this prepaid plan is that is subject to deprioritization on congested towers. 

Christmas Decorations

This is “US” going all out on Christmas.  Yep, this is the extent of our decorations…we love it.

Christmas Decorations

This is our Christmas Tree, with the presents underneath it.  Wish I could tell you who the presents are for, but when my sister sent them, there were no names on them.  Heck, knowing her, they are all for Bubba and Skruffy.  Wish we could sneak Bubba in here for Christmas, but alas, we don’t want the HOA coming down on us now do we….

Christmas Lights at Condo

Well, that pretty much covers the past three weeks, and above is the total decorations that the Condo does for outside….nice that they light up the pool and cabana area, it is a nice touch…but they won’t let anyone put anything else outside, but you can put stuff inside your windows.  Christmas Eve is a week from today and we plan to head to Brooksville to visit with Marcia’s side of the family…and this time I plan to take my camera to share that and the rest of our Christmas with you all.  Until then, be good so Santa “MIGHT” stop by where ever you are…

PS: Posted this using the new aircard…went just fine.