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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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Welcome to Two: Kids Say the Sweetest Things

29 Apr

So, my title is probably confusing to you. “In her last post, she was celebrating her son’s first birthday, and now he can already talk?” And you’re not that too far off, because my child is the smartest child alive, but no, he didn’t go from one to talking overnight. I took a year away from blogging because life kinda got in the way.

But today, Facebook reminded me of a post I wrote some time ago, all about those early maternity-leave days, and it made me miss my writing moments. So here I sit, ready to pick the digital pen back up and put my thoughts to screen. But where do I begin capturing all that’s happened in the last year …

I could write about the time Reece pooped in the tub … and then did it again two days later because who doesn’t love that surprise?? Or what about the time he repeated the F word in public? There was that time I took him to Publix with me at 8 a.m. and let him get a cookie just to keep him happy, much to the disappointment of the bakery lady and every other person I passed. P.S. My son looks adorable at 8:15 a.m. with sprinkles speared all over his face and eyes wide open with a sugar rush.

Let’s just say, this boy has given me some stories. But the sweetest memory in the whole world came to mind, so I’ll share that to start.

It was a warm day, and PoppaNut, Reece and I were hanging out on the back patio just taking in the fresh air. PoppaNut was preparing the grill for a delicious dinner, and of course, Reece wanted to do the same. He wheeled out his plastic Weber and started to “turn on” the burners.

“Mommy, do you like corn?”

“Yes, Reece. Mommy likes corn.”

“You want carrots, Mommy?”

“Sure.”

IMG_4334With each fake food item Reece dug out from his grill cabinet, we’d discuss it, and pretend to gobble it up. “Oh, yummy,” we’d both squeal. And the game continued.

After some time, he was busy playing away on his own, grilling things up, serving them and cleaning it all up again.

As the sun started to set, a warm glow filled the backyard. Reece’s wild excitement had changed to a soft, sweet tone.

I said, “Reece, what are you going to make Mommy next?”

And he said, in the sweetest voice ever with such honesty, “Happy.”

And in that moment, my heart filled with overwhelming love.

And I wanted to say, “My sweet boy, I’m already happy. I’m over-the-moon, beyond-my-wildest-dreams happy. You and Daddy make me SO happy and I love you so much!”

But my throat closed up while I held back the tears … and all I could get out was a smile and a twinkle in my eye. And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

My Fitness Obsession: Zumba Fun

6 Jul

So, I have a little secret. A few of my friends know about this about me, but I don’t think they know how serious it is. They mention it from time to time, but they don’t realize it has turned into an obsession. I’m addicted to Zumba.

Wow, it’s so nice to have that off my chest! I can proudly scream it from the rooftops now. I am addicted to Zumba, and I don’t care who knows it. For those of you who don’t know what Zumba is, let me explain. Zumba is an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party that’s moving millions of people toward joy and health. In real-people terms, it is like spending an hour at the best club in your life sans booze.

Now that you know what Zumba is, let’s start the countdown of my favorite things about Zumba … which will ultimately make you sign up to try it yourself!

1. As I mentioned above, your one-hour class is literally like stepping in the most happening club of your life, sans all the negative stuff like the smoky atmosphere, obnoxious men trying to hit on you and the spilled drinks that always seem to land on your perfect party heels.

Zumba at My Way Fitness in Oldsmar

2. You get to super silly! In fact, the sillier, the better. There are no bosses or professionals critique your moves. There is no judgment. There is only fun and laughter in this space. I often feel like a kid again after a few dances! When was the last time you danced like no one was watching? Now go ahead and show us the Roger Rabbit!

3. This fitness activity comes with the most amazing wardrobe. I mean, you don’t have to buy the Zumba clothes, but I highly recommend it. First, I swear I have way more swagger to my moves when I’m wearing the Zumba-approved gear. That could be just in my head, but I think I look like a backup dancer to 50 Cent. Plus, the pants dry really quickly so you don’t drive home with a wet bottom. That’s important to me!

The Zumba Gear

4. I have made the best friends in Zumba … friends that are now very dear to my heart. We call each other the Fly Girls, because us gals get in front of the whole class for at least dance per class in “In Living Color” style. We text each other, making sure we are all going to be at class each night, and we all support each other throughout the week. These girls have the best hearts, and I’m lucky that they let me crash class each week.

Some of Us Fly Girls

5. The music is amazing! While my class does a few Latin-based dances, my favorite ones are the hip-hop versions. We also do some flashback songs like “Grease: You’re the One that I Want” and “Let’s Hear it for the Boys.” You just can’t help smiling and singing along during that kind of music. It really makes the hour just fly right by.

6. I have the best Zumba instructor on the planet! And I’m not even exaggerating in the slightest. Tiffany has the warmest heart and biggest energy in the little package I have ever seen. She cares about all the girls who come to class, she gives us challenges to take our fun to the next level and she makes me want to do a GREAT job in class. Tiffany inspires me to give it my all, and she is the reason that I love Zumba as much as I do! Thank you, Tiffany.

Meet My Instructor, Tiffany!

7. Zumba is a great stress relief for me. After a long day with a million things on my mind, and another million on my plate for the next day, I can’t wait to take one hour and just let loose. It is one hour that I get to act crazy and silly, and there are days that I certainly need that.

8. Lastly, let’s talk about the results. I have certainly noticed a different in my own body, and several people from class have also noticed results. I get to dance and lose weight? Now that’s a no brainer!

And that my feet are tapping from the Zumba songs playing in my head, I can’t wait to get back to class at My Way Fitness in Oldsmar. I’ll be counting down to Tuesday, when I get to see my Fly Girls again.

And that’s life in a nutshell … working out is great for you, but Zumba is good for my heart too.

MommaNut

 

Mission Wives Relax: Cooking Dinner for Your Spouse

20 Jan

This post is dedicated to my amazing sister-in-law, Stacy. She is a woman who really does it all. She helps her dad with work, she works herself, she takes care of her husband and her three amazing children (Hi, Karissa, Kayla and Christopher) and still finds time to comment on almost every single one of my blog posts! And not only that, she keeps up with the five Facebook pages that PoppaNut and I have … and she comments on those too.

Plus, she texts us through the week and tries to schedule SKYPE calls with us too. She is just always there when we need her, and I know she generally cares about what we having going on with our lives … and I’m forever grateful for that.

Stacy and Chris

So, when Stacy emailed me an idea for my blog, I was all over it. It’s called “Mission Wives Relax” because wives certainly need a break from time to time. I mean, look at all the things I listed that Stacy does … this woman needs a tall glass of wine STAT!

Stacy and I are both lucky enough to have amazing hubbies that love to cook and will cook for us all the time. My dinner pick is always homemade sauce, and PoppaNut is always happy to make up a batch from scratch. It’s just a wonderful thing that PoppaNut does that reminds me how much he loves me. And Stacy is married to Chris, a chef who makes the most amazing food for his family and friends.

PoppaNut and I were lucky enough to try Chris’ homemade watermelon salsa when we visited Stacy and Chris last summer. Boy, was that yummy! And Stacy recently shared with me photos from a dinner Chris made for her, and I want to share them with you.

Chris made roasted pork with a raspberry sauce, sautéed corn with onions, broccoli with olive oil in garlic, and cous cous with sunflower seed and red peppers. If your mouth is not watering, you must have just ate lunch! I’ve requested a recipe to share with you guys, so look for that in the comments! I’ll share it as soon as I have it.

The point of this post is not to make you hungry … even though my tummy is talking to me at this very minute. It is to remind the men out there to pick up a spatula and get to work in the kitchen every now and then. My hubby certainly pulls his weight in the kitchen and he knows how much I appreciate that (and how much my tastebuds appreciate it too).

With Valentine’s Day coming up, this might be a good idea for you men to try. Cook up a specialty meal for your sweetie. Then, take pictures and send them to me so I can share them as well!

And that’s life in a nutshell … making dinner for the one you love works up quite an appetite for dessert!

MommaNut

A Vintage Feel: Incorporating Old Home-Decor Items into a Modern Home

16 Jan

I’m obsessed with vintage items. Whether it be for my home or my wardrobe, finding just the right vintage piece makes me smile from ear to ear. And while I like to call those items “vintage,” they are really just plain old, but with a ton of character.

I like to think about who owned them before me, and what story they have behind them. For example, I have a very old teapot in my home. It doesn’t look like much but it has quite a story behind it. From what my parents told me, my grandfather bought the teapot for my grandmother as a wedding gift when they said “I do.” My mom hung on to it for years after my grandmother passed away, and when I got my first apartment in Florida, that was the first family heirloom I received.

I think that is the first time I started to love old pieces. There is just something about an item with history that adds such character to a modern home. And right now, I’m on the hunt for a few more things to add to my home decor.

The first is a steamer trunk. When I mentioned this to PoppaNut, I think he thought I was crazy. What in the world would I do with a steamer trunk? Well, I think it would be the perfect spot to put my family quilts in … and we have the perfect little nook in our master bedroom that is dying for a bit of character. So, I’m going to continue looking for that perfect one on eBay.

The next thing on my wish list is a vintage wire mannequin. There really isn’t a place for it in my house at the moment, but I think it would be awesome if and when I get an office at work. I just love the romantic feel it gives off, and I would have so much fun dressing it up from time to time.

The last item that I’m after is a vintage typewriter. Since writing has always been a passion of mine, I’m just dying for one of these. My friend Erika has one in her house, and I just gushed over it when I saw it. I would put this above the cabinets in my kitchen if it arrived at my house today. I also received a special bracelet years ago from my very first editor, Denise Gee, that was made from the keys of an old typewriter. It was such a fond gift to receive from my mentor that I always think of her when I see an old typewriter too.

And that’s life in a nutshell … finding the perfect old items to add to your home décor can add character and a sense of nostalgia. What old items are you dying to add to your home?

MommaNut

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