1. Planting your January Garden!

    The weather is finally cooler in the Sunshine state! It’s time to get outside and enjoy these ‘Chamber of Commerce’ Florida days! Now is an excellent time to plant herbs and vegetables in the garden! Many herbs will thrive now that temperatures are cooler, including tarragon, thyme, dill, fennel, and any of the mints. If vegetables are more your thing, why not experiment by planting cool season crops including beets, cabbage, turnips, lettuce, and broccoli.

     

    There is nothing more satisfying than enjoying the fruits of your labor and using your fresh herbs and vegetables in preparing sumptuous stews, soups and other culinary delights! Here is an example of one of our favorite soup recipes!

     

    Winter Vegetable Soup recipe - This quick one-pot soup is perfect after a busy day.

    Everyday Food, November 2009

    For more recipe ideas visit http://www.marthastewart.com/food

     

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
    • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
    • Coarse salt and ground pepper
    • 1 pound acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
    • 1 bunch kale ( 3/4 pound), ribs cut away and discarded, leaves torn
    • 5 1/2 cups (43.5 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
    • 1 can (14 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed
    • 3 sprigs thyme
    • Grated Parmesan, for serving (optional)

    Directions

    1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Cook onion and garlic until fragrant, 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add squash and kale and cook until kale is wilted, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add broth, beans, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash and kale are tender, about 12 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper and serve with Parmesan, if desired.

  2. January is a GREAT month to…

    The holidays are behind us, and people are getting back into the reality of life; however, that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! There are so many exciting this to do in in January! One of the many benefits of living in the sunshine state is the SUNSHINE! The weather is perfect for taking part in some of these exciting outdoor events!

    So, mark your calendars, grab your family and friends and enjoy all that January has to offer! Here is a sampling of just a few of the many events you can partake in!

    January 12 – 13, 2013: Time to get crafty! The 6th Annual Downtown Venice Craft Festival is here! It is one of the most popular festivals in the area!

    January 17 – 27, 2013: Popcorn, cotton candy and carnival rides await you at the Annual Manatee County Fair which will be taking place at the Manatee County Fairgrounds.

    January 19, 2013: Become a star gazer! Sidewalk Astronomy is hosted by the local “Deep Sky Observers” in the south parking lot of Lakewood Ranch Main Street.

    January 23 – 25, 2013: The Wings of Freedom Tour flies into the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.  Come check out all the old planes on display.

    January 25 – February 15, 2013: Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The Annual Circus Sarasota comes to town!

    January 26, 2013: Ahoy ye mates! Just a short drive from Sarasota to Tampa, the Annual Gasparilla Fest is happening. Watch the pirates as they take over the city!

    January 26 – 27, 2013: The 10th annual St. Armand’s Circle’s Winter Art Festival.

    To see a FULL calendar of January events, click the link below! See you around the town!

    http://www.escape-to-sarasota.com/january-sarasota-events.html

     


  3. What are YOUR New Year Resolutions?

    ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’ – Larry Elder

    This time of year many people start putting pen to paper and coming up with their potential New Year’s resolutions. All the usual suspects are typically included in the list:

    • Lose weight
    • Eat healthy
    • Quit smoking
    • Exercise

    January 1st rolls around and we eagerly tackle our resolutions. All goes well for the first couple of weeks and then BOOM! We fall off the proverbial wagon and once again slip back into our normal habits. We feel defeated and ashamed and vow to NOT break our New Year’s resolutions…..next year!

    So, why do so many people fail when it comes to keeping their New Year’s resolutions? Like the old saying goes: People don’t plan to fail, they fail to PLAN.

    When tackling your New Year’s resolutions this year, why not try incorporating an action plan for each item? This will serve as your ‘blueprint’ to obtaining your goal.

    There are many ways to set and achieve your goals. You must first start by setting SMART goals. This will make it easier for you to create your action plan. Here’s an example of how it works.

    GOAL: Lose weight

    Specific: Do you know exactly WHAT you want to accomplish?

    Measurable: Quantify your progress so you stay on track.

    Attainable: Can you reach the goal? Your goals should be challenging but also attainable.

    Relevant: How important is this goal to you?

    Timely: Have a deadline for your goals.

    Revised Goal:  “I want to lose 10 lbs by April 15th 2013. I will achieve this goal by walking for 30 minutes three days a week and I will go to the gym 3 days per week. I will limit the number of sweets and starchy carbohydrates that I eat to just 2 times a week. I will weigh myself every Monday to keep track of my success.”


  4. It’s almost Christmas! Let’s have some fun.

    It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….everywhere you go! The decorations are up, the lights are twinkling, and the holiday season is truly upon us. If you have children, this also means that school will be closed for a week and your kids will be HOME with you.

    So, what types of activities do you have planned during this special time? Here are some suggestions on how you can enjoy this time with your kids and keep that Christmas feeling all week long!

    • Check out the Christmas lights – it is always fun to drive around admiring all the beautiful Christmas lights and outdoor decorations that can be seen in your own neighborhood. There is something magical about it. Be sure to have your radio station set to hear your favorite Christmas music while you drive.
    • Watch holiday movies – From Miracle on 34th Street to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, there are hundreds of great holiday movies to watch! Snuggle up on the couch, pop some popcorn, and make a family evening of it!
    • Bake some holiday goodies – Why not spend an afternoon in the kitchen baking all those wonderful holiday cookies, pies and cakes that you loved from your childhood. Get your kids to create a ‘recipe’ book including all their favorite yummy treats.
    • Give back to the community and volunteer – There is nothing more rewarding than ‘helping those less fortunate’ during the holidays. Teach your kids importance of giving back to their community.
    • Make a video Christmas card– Break out your video camera and have your kids act out a favorite Christmas movie scene or sing their favorite Christmas carols. Then, send your Christmas video to family and friends.
    • Go ice skating – Lace up your skates and hit the ice! Even if you aren’t skating on a frozen pond in Vermont, you can still enjoy the wind in your face and the ice under your feet inside a mall or indoor ice rink.
    • Read a book – Visit your local library and have your kids pick out 2 or 3 books they want to read over the Christmas holiday….for added fun, have each child select a book with a Christmas theme.
    • Go to a museum – Take in some culture and visit one of the area’s many fine museums.
    • Take a road trip – One of the many benefits of living in Florida is that we are never more than a few hours’ drive to FUN! Take a drive to Clearwater and meet Winter the dolphin, or hop over to Orlando for a fun day at the Disney Parks
    • Got to the theater – Check out your local schools and community theater groups for a schedule of Christmas plays. The Nutcracker is always a holiday favorite.

    For more ideas on what to do, visit

    http://events.heraldtribune.com/sarasota-fl/events/sarasota+christmas+events


  5. Trick or Treat – Fun Ideas for Adults on Halloween!

    Trick or Treat – fun ideas for adults on Halloween! Goblins, ghosts and ghouls….oh my! Halloween is nearly upon us! Children everywhere are already dreaming about all the goodies they will be collecting around their neighborhood as they walk door to door dressed up in their fanciest (and spookiest!) Halloween costumes. Tootsie rolls, candy bars and other sugary snacks are bound to be on your shopping list in the upcoming weeks. But, why should children be the ONLY ones enjoying the spookiest time of the year? Adults can have fun too! Here are some ideas for adult Halloween fun!

    1. Host a Halloween block party! Invite your neighbors over for a pre- Halloween celebration before the trick or treaters make their arrival. Be sure to have tunes playing like ‘The Monster Mash’, ‘Thriller’, and ‘Werewolves of London’.

    2. Have a pumpkin carving contest for adults and children a few days before Halloween. This will get everyone in the spirit.

    3. Create a spooktacular dinner! Brains and eyeballs (spaghetti and meatballs) anyone? There are plenty of great Halloween recipes! From goblin cupcakes to baked monster eyes! Check out this website for more ideas. http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/halloween/

    4. While the kids are out trick or treating, watch a scary movie! Remember Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween? That was some scary stuff!

    5. Get in the spirit and don your most terrifying costume when you answer the doorbell. The neighborhood kids are sure to get a kick out of seeing you dressed up for the occasion.

    6. Host a ‘pet’ costume party! Everyone will love seeing your Cocker Spaniel dressed up like Cinderella.

    7. Visit a haunted house! Whatever you decide to do, have fun! Remember, you are never too old to enjoy the fun (and fear!) that comes around every October 31st!

    For more ideas on how to have fun this Halloween, visit

    http://events.heraldtribune.com/venice-fl/events/halloween+events+sarasota