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Just a Small-Town Girl: Oldsmar’s Centennial Cookbook Challenge   

2 May

I always have and will always be a small-town girl. Once upon a time, I dreamed of moving to NYC to work as a fashion-magazine editor, and then I saw Times Square. Amazing and beautiful, yes, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea full-time. Originally from Granger, Indiana, I left that small town for another small town (Bloomington, Indiana) and eventually another small town (Oldsmar, Florida).

There’s just something magical about living in a small town. (Is John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” playing in your head yet?) I love knowing my neighbors, I love that my community feels more like a group of friends than strangers, and I love that we all wave to each other when we pass by.

And I particularly love living in Oldsmar — close enough to Tampa, Clearwater and Orlando so you get all the big-city fun but far enough of way that you retain the small-town charm in your everyday life. I love that I can walk to the library or to the water any afternoon, and I absolutely love the rich history of this area. Ransom E. Olds, the automobile pioneer, purchased nearly 38,000 acres of land in April 1916 to establish Oldsmar, and this year marks the city’s Centennial Celebration!

As part of that celebration, Oldsmar has been hosting themed concert events every fifth Friday of the month —and it was at one such event that I found an absolute gem: the Oldsmar Centennial Cookbook, featuring nearly 120 recipes from local residents just like me. The Friends of the Oldsmar Library put together this collection of treats, and I had to have one. $15 dollar later, I snatched up my copy and tucked it under my arm for safe-keeping until I could get home.

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On Sunday afternoon, I read the cookbook cover to cover, soaking in not only the recipes but a lot of wonderful history on Oldsmar and its residents. Each recipes has a notes area, filled with the lovely stories about the background of each dish, like the one Grace Kinane shared with the Stuffed Olives entry: “Longtime teacher at Oldsmar Elementary, Helen Scott, shared this after we swooned over them!” Or Bette Rae Maltinos’ submission for Brown Bread, “I have made this since my sons were very small and they could not wait to cut it and eat. I still make this for them even though they are now men.”

The cookbook is also filled with old photos documenting Oldsmar’s history like the town’s very first library and Mr. Olds and President Roosevelt in our streets among others. Who knew that Oldsmar hosted beach parties in the 1920s? Looks like quite a fun time from the photo! I wondered if they served any of these recipes there.

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The cookbook inspired me to start a challenge. I’m going to cook my way through each and every entry, starting with the very first one: Joan Wallace’s Bacon-Shrimp Bites. And so I did! Jumbo shrimp wrapped in bacon with a drizzle of barbecue sauce and honey make Sunday just that much sweeter. And with that first bite, I thought, “Yes, Joan. You were right. I should’ve planned for leftovers, because this was delicious!” Thank goodness for those notes.

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And as I continued read through the pages, I stopped thinking of this as a cookbook all together. It was so much more than a cookbook in my eyes. It was a book, filled with amazing stories. And it reminded me what recipes actually do — they let you gather as a family and make memories over some delicious meals. And within those note sections and among the old photos, there lied our real truth … we are neighbors who share, we are families that love, and we are a community with a treasured past. And that’s why I love being a small-town girl right here in Oldsmar. And that’s life in a nutshell.

Joan Wallace’s Bacon-Shrimp Bites

Jumbo Shrimp: As many as needed

Bacon Slices: Half the amount as shrimp

I cup barbecure sauce

1 drizzle of honey per shrimp

Toothpicks

Cut bacon in half and wrap around the shrimp. Secure with a toothpick. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Broil 6 inches from heat for 5 minutes on each side or until bacon is crisp (we actually grilled these instead on foil). Drizzle with barbecue sauce and honey, and serve.

Note from Joan: I have been serving this for years. It is very quick to make and is low calorie (30 calories per shrimp). I love to have leftovers of this. Keep them in the fridge until the next day and have a few as a tasty lunch.

To purchase your own copy of the cookbook, visit the Oldsmar Public Library at 400 St. Petersburg Drive East in Oldsmar. You can also read more about it here.

MommaNut

 

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Happy Birthday, America: Celebrating July 4th

7 Jul

I sure hope everyone had an amazing July 4th holiday! PoppaNut and I had one legendary barbeque at our home with tons of family and friends stopping by throughout the night. Here are just a few photos I wanted to share.

Me and PoppaNut

Me and PoppaNut

Ashley, Madison, Me and Baby Reece

Ashley, Madison, Me and Baby Reece

Flag Photos!

Flag Photos!

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My Decorations

My Decorations

Representing the Statute of Liberty

Representing the Statute of Liberty

So many fun memories! And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

And Baby Makes Three: Welcoming Our Son

10 Apr

Since my last post, we’ve welcomed a beautiful son into our crazy nuthouse, making it all the more crazier each day but filled with more love than I ever thought possible.

Our Little One at 3 Weeks

Our Little One at 3 Weeks

Our knucklehead is five months old now, learning to roll and belly-giggling at nearly everything around … including Peanut and Cashew. And now that PoppaNut and I have found a good routine in parenthood, I’ve had some time to reflect on all of it. What would I tell my pregnant, swollen-feet wobbly self about what I’ve learned so far?

1. You might be scared of needles but you’ll love how you feel after the epidural, even after they hit a nerve in the process. You’ll play Words with Friends, sing to “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and even take a nap while you wait for your labor to progress.

2. You’ll be sad when you don’t get that “beautiful made-for-Facebook” photo of you, your hubby and your new son following an unexpected C-section. Have a good cry and move on. You’ll experience more love in those four hospital walls than you ever thought possible and that’s what matters. The photo your old high school friends see online doesn’t.

Mommy and Reece's First Photo

Mommy and Reece’s First Photo

3. Stop reading every baby book. It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. When your son is five months, you still won’t have a clue but you’ll be okay with it. You learn as you go. Instead of keeping your nose in a book, look up and live your life. Stare at his eyelashes and feel his breath on your chest. These are the moments you’ll miss later. Read when he sleeps.

4. Accept help. You are gonna need it. Don’t be too proud to say, “Can you come over and just hold my baby for a moment so I can shower?” My best friend Ashley gave me some great advice just days before Reece arrived: “When someone asks, just say yes. If they want to drop off food, just say yes. When they want to do your laundry, just say yes.” And so, you need to learn to say “yes” to help, followed by a huge “THANK YOU!”

5. Remember that your family started out as a twosome. You and PoppaNut are a team in all this, and remember to be a wife and not just Reece’s mother. You two have to master the craziness together! And you’ll be closer for it. And when he starts “Boys Breakfast” on Saturday mornings, which allows you to sleep in and have “alone” time, be sure to thank him. Not all husbands are as thoughtful!

Daddy and Reece, Snuggled Together at the Hospital

Daddy and Reece, Snuggled Together at the Hospital

6. You’ll have issues with your new body. You’ll want to have your old body back with those small little feet and skinny waistline. You’ll want to get in your old clothes as soon as you get home from the hospital, but they won’t fit. You’ll want to be scar-free, but you need to learn to wear that C-section scar with pride … along with the extra pounds for a little longer. Your body went through a lot and you have a beautiful son as proof. The weight will come off eventually, but give yourself time. Be understanding and compassionate with yourself.

7. When that sweet little boy goes to the dark side at three weeks old, crying for six hour stretches at a time and you can’t figure out why, know that you will get through it. You’ll want to rip your hair out, you’ll be beyond frustrated, you’ll give your baby to your hubby so you can go cry in the bathroom for five minutes, and you’ll wonder what you and PoppaNut were ever thinking when you decided to have a baby. This is NORMAL! And with the right formula and medicine, you’ll get Reece’s acid reflux and milk-protein intolerance under control. You will have a happy, healthy baby in the end!

You Will Look Back and Laugh at This

You Will Look Back and Laugh at This

8. You’ll worry a lot in the beginning if you are going to be a good mother. You’ve never been the type of woman who was dying to have a baby, so you wonder how you’ll do. But, Ms. Professional, you’ll actually love your title as “mother” most. You’ll love the way he wraps his small hand around your finger when you feed him a bottle, you’ll cherish the way he smiles when he sees you across the room, you’ll run to his room to get him his “lambie” when he starts to cry, and you’ll cherish saying prayers together each night. And when you see your husband hold your son, your heart will break with overwhelming love. So, stop worrying. You’ll get the hang of it.

9. You’ll forget a lot. No one told you how hard those first few months would be … or maybe you didn’t listen. The first month, you’ll say “how could anyone ever have another baby?? This is ridiculous!!” But your memory will start to fade, and you’ll start boxing up those cute newborn outfits and you’ll realize the time as already flown by. The hours of endless crying have stopped and your home will be blissfully wonderful with your new addition.

Our Happy Baby

Our Happy Baby

10. You’re joining a club! You won’t think of it that way at first, but once you start needing help with recommendations or tips, you’ll find a whole community of mothers out there ready to give your advice. Find those people who you can be completely honest with and confide in them. Accept the advice that makes sense to you and pass on those tidbits that don’t work for your family. You’ll know what right for you three. You’ll feel judged at times, but you’ll learn to brush it off. You’ll also learn that your “say it like it is” mentality spills over to motherhood … and you’ll speak your mind whether people like it or not. And you’ve decided that an admirable quality!

And that’s life in a nutshell … motherhood isn’t exactly as I expected … it’s better!

MommaNut

A Childhood Classic: S’mores Cupcakes

5 Jan

My parents and grandparents used to take me camping as a little girl. And while I never really liked roughing it, there is one reason that always kept me coming back for more: S’mores. I mean, who can resist marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate all melted together in one gooey mess. Not this sweets addict! I can’t get enough.

So, when I ran across a simple recipe for S’mores cupcakes, I couldn’t resist trying them. I must warn you though … these little bits of heaven are more addicting than a Real Housewives marathon. I couldn’t have less than two per sitting. So, bake with caution!

Ingredients for S’mores Cupcakes

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® yellow cake mix

1-1/4 cups water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

4 bars (1.55 oz each) milk chocolate candy, finely chopped

24 baking cups

Frosting

1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 to 2 teaspoons milk

1 bar (1.55 oz) milk chocolate candy, if desired

24 bear-shaped graham crackers, if desired

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. Make cake batter as directed on box; fold in graham cracker crumbs and chopped chocolate bars. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Bake 18 to 23 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In large bowl, beat marshmallow creme, butter and powdered sugar on low speed until blended. Beat in enough milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to make frosting spreadable. Spread over tops of cupcakes. Divide chocolate bar into rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally in half and place on top of each cupcake. Top each cupcake with bear-shaped cracker. After frosting has set, store loosely covered.

And that’s life in a nutshell. Finding a simple recipe to bring back a childhood classic is simply classic in every way!

MommaNut

2011 in Review: My Blog

3 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog. See how we did!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,600 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 43 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Serving as Maid of Honor

17 Oct

My cousin Ashley has officially walked down the aisle, and I have officially served as a maid of honor. Most of you have read along as we conquered the bridal party and bachelorette gathering. And since most of you attended the wedding, I’m not going to run down every little part. Instead, I’m going to tell you what you didn’t know from attending. This is the behind-the-scenes recap of the weekend’s festivities.

No. 1: Where’s the Marriage Certificate … So, Ashley learned you can’t get married without your marriage certificate. When the bride and groom showed up without it at the rehearsal, they were sent home on a scavenger hunt. As Ashley destroyed her apartment, she found the certificate in an unlikely place: under a huge case of bottled water. But, she found it and arrived back to the rehearsal in time to do two run-throughs.

No. 2: I’m No Martha Stewart … I made Ashley’s fake bouquet with ribbons from her bridal shower. Well, as everyone found out, I’m no Martha Stewart. As Ashley and Randy rehearsed, ribbons fell right off the paper plate holding them. I monkeyed around with it for a while before throwing in the towel. At least it looked pretty when we arrived!

No. 3: We Love Our Gift Bags … the bridal party received from nice loot from being a part of Ashley and Randy’s big day. Bridesmaids received cozy slippers, chocolate, popcorn, a bottle of wine (Ashley’s favorite kind) and the movie “Bridesmaids.” It was all in bags with our names on them! Sounds like a perfect Saturday night recovery bag. The guys got a nice engraved flask with a bottle of liquor. It was so thoughtful!

No. 4: Surprise, There is a Limo … Ashley had no idea that a limo was picking us up at her mom’s house and take us to the venue. We put Bryan to work, making him change the radio stations each time a commercial came on. We took a lot of photos, and Kaylee loved it as well. It was a fun time!

No. 5: Google Comes in Handy … So, you never know when you might need to consult Google for a little added direction. That was the case when we didn’t know which side you pin the flowers for a corsage and for a boutonniere. Thank god Google knows and was able to advise us as Ashley pinned flowers on our grandmother’s jacket.

No. 6: Oh Say Can You See … Everyone can get a little emotional at a wedding. And that certainly happened with the bride’s father saw her for the first time. But, the bride had a trick up her sleeve. She heard if you sing the Star Spangled Banner in your head, it keeps you from crying. Needless to say, we were all singing by the end of the night.

No. 7: Speeches Are Hard … As MOH, there came a time when I had to stand up to give my speech. Man, that was so much harder than I thought it would be. I managed to make people laugh and cry during mine … which I think means that it went really well. It was my few minutes to tell the bride how amazing she is, how happy I am to have so many wonderful memories with her, and how I can’t imagine my life without her. It was also my time to tell her how happy I was for her. I certainly got choked up! Now, if only I would have remembered that nifty trick.

No. 8: That Cake-Topper Is Heavy … The cake cutting went without a hitch. But what you don’t know (and I don’t think the bride knows this either) is that the cake vendor was having a terrible time getting the topper to stay put. It kept falling over while we were setting up for the wedding. My sister and I were standing by when it toppled off at one point. With the bride far away, I alerted the bride’s mom, who quickly got it handled. Way to go, Debbie!

No. 9: I Almost Had a Janet Jackson Moment … Yes, it is true. The top of my dress was nearly ripped off by the end of the reception. First, it started to break when I picked up Madison and walked her down the aisle. Then, as I was dancing my little tail feather off, it ripped again. Luckily, Tammy had a handy safety-pin and I managed to keep everything held together.

No. 10: Bring on the After-Party … Bar Orlando hosted one amazing happy hour after the event. With tequila flowing and a steady amount of guests, this party kept going til 4 a.m. We were quite the party animals!

And that’s life in a nutshell … Being Ashley’s maid of honor was certainly an HONOR and I’ll cherish the memories of that night for the rest of my life. Congrats again to Ashley and Randy. I love you!

MommaNut

Here Comes the Bride at the Casino

11 Oct

As you all know, I’m prepping for my big role as the MOH (Maid of Honor) for my dear cousin Ashley. And as customary, that calls for a bachelorette party.

Location: Hard Rock Casino. Date: Saturday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. Who: Everyone in the Tampa Bay Area, but Especially the Bride and Groom. What: A Night of Crazy Times and Even Crazier Memories. In fact, it felt like being in the “Hangover” without Mike Tyson being in attendance.

Let’s start at the very beginning … when we had no clue what we were in for. PoppaNut and I arrived at Ashley and Randy’s place, and a town car arrived shortly after. I gave Ashley a little bachelorette gift to kick off the night, a gift bag with Patron, a bridal sash and two bride/groom shot glasses that can worn around the neck. “Dress the bride up so everyone knows it is her night … CHECK!”

When we arrived at the Hard Rock, we headed straight to Council Oak to see the Pinkhams perform live. Terri gave a shout out to the young couple, and we had a few glasses of wine while the party began. “Get the bride feeling good before dinner … CHECK!”

Next, it was time to get everyone some food … cause there is no way you can continue to party all night when you start at 7 p.m. without some major carbs. So, carbs we ate! the Hard Rock Cafe played host to our late-night meal.  “Get the bride to eat some food before the party continues … CHECK!”

And after a full meal, you can work up quite a thirst. It was time to head to the center bar for what else … TEQUILA! Are you noticing a trend in my blog lately?? So, tequila shots for the whole group. “Bring hot sauce/tequila/orange slice amazement to the bridal party … CHECK!”

In our very sober state of mind, we were ready to lose some money. The boys played roulette (or poker … no one can seem to remember!!) with a trilingual dealer and us girls headed to the dance floor. By the way, I won $60 earlier in the night on some Finding Nemo slot machine. “Win some money … CHECK!” We all regrouped and continue to dance until my feet literally felt like they were bleeding. But I can’t complain … it was well worth the pain!

Around 2 a.m. PoppaNut and I took our old asses home to bed. The party continued after we left, but that was about all we could handle. With PoppaNut dozing off in my lap on the raining town-car ride back to Ashley’s home, I thought about what an amazing night it was. I thought about all the fun times Ashley and I have spent together over the course of her whole life and it made me smile.

And that’s life in a nutshell … while you  might think heading to the casino for a bachelor/bachelorette party might be a gamble, you’ll be surprised at how much you actually win in the end … with rich memories and luxurious fun!

MommaNut

Meeting Thompson Square

10 Oct

So, it appears that PoppaNut and I have turned into celebrity followers. Now, this is not our doing … they seem to be attracted to us! Maybe it’s our funny personality or perhaps it’s our goodwill nature or maybe we are just in the right place at the right time. I tend to prefer the first two options, but whatever. Whatever it is, it is working for us, because we had the pleasure of meeting Thompson Square two weeks ago.

Thompson Square is a country band, singing the song “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” among others. We love their music, and it just so happens that they were performing at the Round Up. Well, PoppaNut’s gym is just a block up the road and Thompson Square called to see if they could work out there. Of course, PoppaNut said yes … FREE OF CHARGE.

Well, the band was so grateful to be able to work out at the gym, that they gave us free tickets to the concert with an invite to see the bus after the show! I couldn’t believe it. First, I have tried to get PoppaNut to go to the Round Up for a long time … and now HE was the one asking me to go! How could this get any better!

I got my cutest pair of heels on (that I could line-dance in), and we headed up. A few beers and a couple Root-Beer shooters later, it was time to meet the band. You’ll see from the photos that we met a few characters along the way as well.

Once we got on the bus, I asked the lead singers (a husband-and-wife duo) what happens if they fight and have to get up on stage to perform. All I got was blank stares and silence. Ok, strike 1 for me … apparently that wasn’t the ice-breaker that I was looking for. Let me try this again. Somehow … and don’t even ask me specifics … I got on the topic of tequila.

Well, now we are talking. I shoot out my tequila recipe … graciously given to me by Melissa and Matt (THANK YOU!!), and I tell Thompson Square that taking their tequila with hot sauce and an orange slice will change their life. They seem intrigued and promised they would try it. A few minutes later, we were off the bus … left to think about our time with Thompson Square.

I was certainly grateful that they allowed us to see the bus, and I was amazed at how kind they were. The next day, PoppaNut wrote on their Facebook page that we hoped they enjoyed the orange slice with their tequila and they LIKED the post!!! How crazy is that!!

So, that’s life in a nutshell. Sometimes, you have no idea where a night will take you … but that’s the fun of it!  You might just end up on a tour bus sharing tequila recipes!

MommaNut

Welcome to Your Thirties

19 Sep

I’ve been a bit MIA since I turned 30. No, I haven’t turned into a hermit crab or decided to buck technology in my new age. Instead, I’ve been actually LIVING life, with little time to write about life. And I’ll take that tradeoff any day!

But I had the most amazing birthday of my entire life. I could get choked up just thinking about it. I have never felt so loved in my life … that people would care about me that much to do so much for me on my birthday blows me away. And I’ll forever look back on my birthday with such fond memories for as long as I live.

So, let’s count down the top 10 highlights of my birthday weekend.

No. 1: Holy F Brad Paisley … PoppaNut took me to the Brad Paisley/Blake Shelton concert, which was completely amazing. Half way through the show, PoppaNut took the concert to a whole new level by handing me backstage passes! Holy cow, I almost peed myself. I don’t know if was the gin and tonics or just pure excitement but I got a massive case of hiccups … and I couldn’t stop screaming! And then I got super emotional, listening to that wonderful country music and knowing how much PoppaNut loved me to do that for me … I shed a few tears over it. And the meet-and-greet was amazing. Brad Paisley actually loved PoppaNut’s Captain Awesome shirt, and who could blame him. It does rock!

No. 2: Jagermeister and Pigtails … Yeah, I’m 30 and I drink Jager and I wear pigtails. Get over it. I happen to like both very much and I’m not stopping just because I turned 30. And I was proud of both when I was tailgating at the concert. Maybe I’ll feel differently at 40, but I would place a bet on that.

No. 3: My Pink Palace … Pulling up to the Hyatt on Clearwater Beach was so exciting! PoppaNut had reserved us a room for the weekend, and I was dying for some lunch by the pool. PoppaNut and I spent our wedding night at the pink hotel. I had dreamt as a child that I lived in a pink house with diamonds, built by my dad. Every time we stay at the pink hotel, PoppaNut tells me it is because he wants all my dreams to come true. I have to say that they have.

No. 4: Surprise Party … I have never been thrown a surprise party in my life, and I couldn’t believe I was seeing all of my friends and family in the cabanas at the Hyatt pool. It was so shocking to me! My Aunt Debbie had made these awesome centerpieces (blue balls!) and there was a beach-themed cake. Old and new friends mingled together. I laughed and smiled so much my cheeks hurt. I’ll never forget that day.

No. 5: Family Photo … My brother hates to take photos! And he reminds me every time he stands next to me for a photo. So, it is a miracle that this photo was taken and actually turned out pretty good. It was nice to have the Tam family all together. It doesn’t happen as often as I would like … and it was very touching!

No. 6: Sunset … Who can resist sunset at the beach? PoppaNut loves to capture the sunset in his photos, and I love watching it too. This one, I spent with Kenzie, looking up and down the beach. PoppaNut got a great photo of it.

No. 7: The Presents … I really made out with all the amazing gifts for my birthday! Thank you all so much. I can’t wait to put every one to use. Here are two gifts that PoppaNut gave me: a tablet and a LV purse! Hell, I’ll turn 30 every year if it is gonna be like this! It was a designer kind of birthday!

No. 8: Pool Time … My actual birthday was spent at the pool, just PoppaNut and I.  I got some great sun, I read my eReader and just relaxed. It didn’t take long until my skin was fried, but we had so much fun. I love that relaxation and cool breeze. I want to go back right now just thinking about it.

No. 9: Island Way … PoppaNut and I got all dressed up and headed to Island Way Grill in our grownup car for dinner. I got sushi, which was amazing! Get the firecracker roll if you every go there. I also got a little dessert for my birthday. It was so yummy!

No. 10: Martini Time … Things start to get a little fuzzy around this highlight, but it is still a highlight to me! Martinis and tequila shots … now that is the way to ring in 30 if you ask me!

And that’s life in a nutshell … grabbing 30 by the balls and never letting go!

MommaNut

Sanibel Island: Labor Day Weekend

6 Sep

PoppaNut gave me the surprise of a lifetime this weekend. He simply said, “Pack a bag.” And that’s exactly what I did. When we loaded up the new Jeep on Sunday morning, I had no idea where our final destination would be.

We drove down 275 to 75 … and I started thinking we might be headed to my parents’ home. But as we passed exit 170, I knew that wasn’t it.

About three hours after we left our home, we arrived at the Sundial Resort on Sanibel Island. I immediately assume we are checking in and can’t wait to get to the front desk to secure our reservation. But PoppaNut is sorta dragging behind, texting on his phone. I have no idea what is going on and he is acting so strange. What’s going on?

Melissa and Matt

As we wonder around looking for Building K, I still can’t figure out what is going on. Are we meeting people here? Are we lost? And then, PoppaNut swings me around and I see two very familiar faces: Melissa and Matt from Kentucky, my very close friends from college.

My eyes saw them but my brain couldn’t figure out what the heck they were doing in Sanibel. PoppaNut said my face was priceless … I was completely shocked. I ran up to them and gave them great big hugs! Gosh, I can’t even tell you how great it was to see them. And PoppaNut had arranged it all. He saw that Melissa and Matt were coming down to Florida and arranged the meet-up. Did I pick a keeper or what?

Melissa and MommaNut

As this group of four headed down to the beach, my brain was still trying to figure out what had just happened. We sipped all-natural cocktails while we laid in the sun … Melissa and I catching up on every detail of our lives … and something suprises me. No matter how much time passes between the time I see Melissa, we always pick up as if we haven’t missed a beat. We are instantly catching up and laughing and enjoying the sunny day on the beach.

That night, we head to dinner at a beautiful seaside restaurant called Gramma Dot’s. After a quick drink at a nearby bar, we head back to the pool for a dip, more laughter and way too much tequila. Matt, or JT as some people called him, made us smoked-salmon dip and caprese salad … the most gourmet drunk food I have ever had. And we did tequila shoots with hot sauce and orange slices (it will change your life).

MommaNut and PoppaNut

When it was time to say goodbye, I couldn’t help but cry. I had the best time in the world, and it was amazing to see Matt and Melissa again. And it was so sweet of PoppaNut to arrange this special surprise for me. He said, “I wanted you to be able to see your friends … you never get to see them and I know you miss them.” I could cry again just thinking about it.

And that’s life in a nutshell … getting to see your old friends again can make you feel brand new again. Thank you, hubby! I love you so much.

MommaNut

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