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Kona Grill & Motorworks Brewery June 15, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Food & Drink, Fun & Games, Humor.
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42 comments

A few weeks back, we went out for Happy Hour, starting with rum tasting at the Drum Circle Distillery.

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A few happy hours later, we ended the outing at Kona Grill where we shared an appetizer portion of smoked gouda fondue with pretzel bites and apple slices for dipping.

One appetizer and neither of us needed dinner that night.

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To make sure I got my full intake of salt, I ordered a margarita.

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Two days later, we went to Motorworks Brewery ~ the largest beer garden in Florida.

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There, we enjoyed great music, gorgeous weather, good beer.

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We used the putting green, tossed bean bags at Corn Holes, and rolled Bocce Balls around.

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We were about to leave and a couple from Tampa offered to buy me another flight of beer.  How could I refuse?

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Gather Round The Good Stuff June 11, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Fun & Games, Happiness, People.
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47 comments

To celebrate our niece’s birthday, we met up at the Melting Pot in Tampa.

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Where we shared Cheese Fondue, Hot Pots, and Chocolate Fondue.

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Amid laughter, teasing, kind-hearted kidding, and general frivolity.

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A week later, we headed south to Sarasota to hook up with relatives from Vermont who winter in North Fort Myers.

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The gathering of the clan included aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, spouses, daughters, and sons.

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In due course, we headed round to Rise Pies to gather round the good stuff.

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C~H~E~E~S~E!!!

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Aah . . . that’s better!

May your week overflow with good times, good friends, and good food!

That’s Greek To Me April 29, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor, Music & Dance.
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36 comments

A few weeks ago, we attended a Greek Glendi Festival at Saint Barbara’s Church in Sarasota.

We toured the church to learn the history of its vibrant Byzantine icons:

Byzantine art combines the classical respect for material form with the capacity of the abstract style to suggest the transcendental.  In this way it is able to present a pictorial world in which the historical and the metahistorical, the temporal and the eternal intersect.

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We gazed up at the decorous dome which revealed Christ surrounded by evangelists, prophets, and angels.

For a Virtual Tour of St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, click HERE.

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Returning to the massive festival tent, we enjoyed Greek Music, Greek Folk Dancing, and Greek Food.

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The distinctive sound of the bouzouki bounced around the tent as we ate.

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Spanakopita, Tyropita, Greek Salad, Loukoumathes, and Baklava Cheesecake!

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OPA! ~> a joyous reminder to stop and celebrate life where you are.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Moon Under Water April 27, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor, People, Travel & Leisure.
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51 comments

In March, we drove to St. Pete for lunch at Moon Under Water, a quaint British Pub with sidewalk service.

To learn the intriguing story behind the name, click HERE.

I ordered the Feta Taboule Salad with black olives and red peppers, served in a tortilla shell with Hummus and Pita.

A bit too much green and not enough grain for my tastes.

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BFF opted for Fish & Chips with a side of Tikha Masala Curry which tickled our “Tikha” . . . and our tastebuds.

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After lunch, we went in search of a Small Craft Taps and Casks House ~ The Ale and The Witch.

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We chuckled at a posted proverb but didn’t have a chance to sample the Witch’s Brew ~> the taps aren’t tapped at quarter past two.

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Next time we won’t arrive before the Witching Hour.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Out With The OLD . . . In With The NOW December 31, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Happiness, Mindfulness, Special Events.
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43 comments

IMGP1800bMy “resolution/goal/plan/intent” for 2015 is simple . . . let go of the “OLD” to make room for the “NOW.”

More specifically:

* Remain awake and aware.
* Stay focused on THIS moment.
* Enjoy the journey.
* Be patient. Allow the path to unfold.
* Be Here Now.

Midnight tonight (New Year’s Eve) signals  the transition from OLD to NEW in venues all around the world.

It’s an arbitrary calendar event, much like Christmas, but one shrouded in tradition, folklore, and celebration.

Since moving to Florida, BFF and I no longer celebrate the arrival of the New Year by sitting on the couch to watch revelers in Times Square watch a big ball descend a long pole amid a cacophonous chorus of horns, whistles, bells, drums, fanflukers, and sardineous screams of  3!  … get off my foot … 2! … stop pushing! …  1! …  Happy New Year!!!

Weather permitting, we greet the New Year on the beach with fireworks screaming overhead at midnight.

A few years ago, we watched a show on New Year’s traditions around the world.  Our ears perked up and  stomachs growled with delight when the host mentioned that eating chocolate on New Year’s Eve will improve one’s “luck” in the New Year.

Chocolate?  Yes, please.

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We have an ample supply of chocolate at the ready . . . which we plan to inhale before heading out to the fireworks.

And again on our return.

Just for good measure.

Aah . . . that’s better!

How do you “ring in” the New Year?  Alone or With Friends?   In or Out?  Awake and Aware?  Sound Asleep?  Sleepwalking?  Sober? Intoxicated?

Mickey-OKHowever you choose to celebrate . . . Be Happy!

Our mood at midnight (as well as the type of food we eat) tends to follow us into the New Year.

Enjoy a smorgasbord of gustatory pleasures and your heart’s delight tonight . . . for tomorrow we die-et!

It’s A Guy Thing December 20, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor, Joke.
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31 comments

Brian-Oh-NoWhat is it with guys shoving food down their pants and into their pockets, like squirrels storing up stores for the winter?

* Raymond cramming his pockets full of roast beef at the PTA Pot Luck on Everybody Loves Raymond.

* Stephen C. McQueen lining the pockets of his overcoat with canapes stolen from a birthday buffet in The Understudy.

* Pinto in Animal House sticking packages of meat down his pants and inside his sweater for a Frat Party. TOGA!  TOGA!

At the Cheese Tasting we attended this week, a retired sheriff’s deputy spotted an un-gentlemanly gentleman pilfering cheese, by stuffing containers down the front of his pants for later consumption.

Apparently he’s not alone!

According to the Fun Facts shared at the tasting, cheese is the #1 shoplifted item in both Europe and the US because it’s small, compact, and pricey.  And doesn’t melt like ice cream.

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So, if you happen upon a cheese tray at a Holiday Party this year, you might query the hostess about its origins.

If she says, “Raymond picked it up for me,” consider opting for the fruitcake.

Aah . . . that’s better!

The Wonderful World of C~H~E~E~S~E December 18, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Special Events, Travel & Leisure.
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47 comments

On Saturday, we attended a Cheese Tasting presented by The Fresh Market at the Main Library.

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We had the opportunity to try 10 cheeses from the Eight Cheese Familes:

1. Fresh Cheeses ~ Goat Log and Cilegene (fresh mozzarella)

2.  Soft Ripened/ Bloomy Rind ~ Ile de France Brie

3.  Washed Rind ~ Chaumes

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4. Pressed Uncooked ~ Tillamook Vintage White Cheddar

5. Pressed Cooked ~ Kaltbach Cave Aged Gruyere

6.  Pasta Filata (Stretched Curd) ~ Armenian String

7. Blue Veined ~ Buttermilk Blue

8. Specialty ~ Wendsleydale cranberry and Cran Le Roule

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Each table of four tasters had all cheeses within arm’s reach which enabled us to compare and contrast the tangy peppery goat log with the rich Brie with the sharp Buttermilk Blue.

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Karen LaBonte, the cheese specialist, brought Raspberry and Apricot preserves to pair with the White Cheddar and the Buttermilk Blue.  The Apricot preserves raised the Blue to stellar heights.

2014-12-13 14-46-30_0007Karen also brought a fresh Cheddar Cheese Curds for us to sample, amid squeaks.

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Following the tasting, the Manatee School for the Arts put on a short Holiday Concert.

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Giving attendees a chance to cleanse their palates with cookies and punch.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Are your favorite cheeses Mild or Sharp?  Nutty or Tangy?  Are they Stinky, Aromatic, and Pungent? Peppery, Grassy, or Musky?  Silky or Crunchy?  Citrusy, Earthy, Sweet, or Salty?  Elegant and Rich?  Or Rustic and Barn-yardy?

Holiday Simplicity December 16, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Life Balance, Special Events.
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62 comments

After reading Simplify Your Life in 1997, we stopped stressing over the holidays.  We do what we enjoy doing, and don’t do stuff that feels like a chore.  We’ve decided Less is More.

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We do not spend hours putting up a BIG tree or untangling lights.

We have a tabletop tree that we store decorated with favorite ornaments ~ many handmade. It’s good to go in about 15 minutes.

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Other decorations collected over the years (Santas, Reindeer, Elves) go from boxes to shelves in about 60 minutes.

When our nieces and nephews were tiny toddlers, I gifted Santas to them (which helped keep our decorations in check).

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Instead of shopping ’til we’re dropping, we send cheery cards and college checks to nieces and nephews, and consumables (food, wine, snacks, books) to family and friends.

BFF and I don’t exchange Christmas gifts with each other. Instead, we spend time creating experiential memories together.

Ignoring the call of the mall leaves us with time and energy to enjoy local Holiday Offerings . . . like the Candy Cane Crawl, Christmas Town at Busch Gardens, and PIZZA on Pine Avenue.

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We stopped sending Christmas Cards to everyone we’ve ever known in every place we’ve ever lived or worked (NJ, VA, SC, NC, MD, and here).

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Culling the list from 250+ people we barely remember to those we genuinely care about and want to see again is a HUGE time saver each December.

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Which gives us a chance to enjoy Choirs of Angels in Santa Hats.

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Once they get situated with their hats on straight.

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A new tradition this year ~> collecting and gathering spare change to toss into the big red buckets manned by ubiquitous bell ringers.

Together with our cheery HO~HO~HO!

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Aah . . . that’s better!

What are your favorite traditions? Which ones could you do without?

Sea Hut’s Crab Trap December 1, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Food & Drink, Humor.
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35 comments

After exploring Terra Ceia Island, both the Arts & Crafts Show and the Madira Bickel Indian Mound, we decided to stop for a light lunch at the Sea Hut.

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We sat outside on a small deck with a big boat peering over our shoulders.

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Each table held a water glass to catch cracker wrappers from blowing away.

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A bright blue awning overhead acted as understudy for missing blue skies.

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The Sea Hut’s indoor decor included this toothsome totem.

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And another totem with a more malevolent expression.

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Back at the table, our Honey Puppies arrived in a cloud of powdered sugar.

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To keep our blood sugar on an even keel, we also ordered black beans & rice.

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Food tucked in to happy tummies, another toothsome grin appeared.

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On the way back to the car, we met up with Sideshow Bob in the parking lot.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Thanksgiving Grace November 27, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Fun & Games, Humor, People.
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36 comments

200px-March-hareLord, as you know
We’ve been trying of late
To stick to our diets
To lose some weight

On this day of Thanksgiving
Please turn a blind eye
As we inhale stuffing
And two slices of pie

We promise if you
Will look the other way
We’ll resume our diets
On Black Friday!

Aah . . . men!

For those of you in the States, may your Thanksgiving be full of grace.
Eat, drink, and be merry . . . for tomorrow we die-t!

Gobble.  Gobble.

Related post:  But I Don’t WANNA Be An Onion!

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