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Practice Makes Perfect January 24, 2023

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
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Hearts, like eggs, are fragile.

However, once broken open, infinite possibilities await.

We can collapse into a pool of tears, become hard-boiled (or scrambled) by the ways of the world, or emerge sunny-side up.

Just remember, even a master chef can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs:

Aah . . . that’s better!

IAN ~ In A Nutshell October 4, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Gratitude, Happiness, Home & Garden.
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Caveat:  This post is more for me than for you.  I’m sharing my notes from the last week in case any of you are curious about Hurricane Storm Prep before, during, and after a mandatory evacuation.

FYI:  There may be a few typos.  And there may be future revisions as memories resurface.

Bottom line:  There’s no place like home, especially with running water and power to cool and cook your food.

If you want to donate to the current disaster relief efforts in Florida, some organizations to consider:

Red Cross, Volunteer Florida, Feed Florida, and Florida Disaster Fund.


Sunday ~ filled tank with gas . . . Publix (broccoli and asparagus) . . . thinking about evacuating . . . made reservation for Wednesday & Thursday nights “just in case” . . . looked out some food and water and clothes to take . . . rolled down storm shutters . . . checked stash of cash and bottled water . . . filled plastic containers with water & stashed them in the freezer to make blocks of ice . . . after dinner, watched Lucy Worsley Investigates (about the Black Plague in England in the 1400’s) . . . good reminder (“Hurricane prep is a pain . . . but at least it’s not the Black Death”) . . .

Monday ~ continued storm prep . . . mandatory evacuation for Zone A (that’s us) announced, effective Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. . . . extended reservation to include Tuesday night . . . started packing car . . . boarded up front sliders with plywood (last used in 2017 for IRMA) . . . checked provisions . . . blanched the broccoli (raw broccoli =  no go for me) . . . packed food to take (cheese, bread, butter, peanut butter, jam, granola bars, lettuce, tomato, carrot & celery sticks, cottage cheese, blanched broccoli, black olives, Italian Dressing, apples, oranges, bananas, tea bags, cookies, chocolate, nuts, raisins, carrot cake) . . . gathered flashlights, batteries and battery operated radio . . . charged i-Pad & cell phone . . . packed i-Pad, cords, passwords . . . emptied cubes from ice-maker bucket into containers & stacked the now contained ice cubes in the freezer . . .

Tuesday ~ planned to leave after lunch . . . decided not to wait . . . called hotel to request early check-in . . . tossed stuff in car . . . hotel at 11 am instead of 3 pm . . . lunch & dinner in room (salad with broccoli, black olives, cheddar cheese, celery, carrots, and Italian dressing for me and cheese & tomato sandwiches for BFF with hummus and celery sticks) . . . walked to Publix (bananas, juice, instant soup, hummus, bagel crisps) . . . watched weather channel updates . . . e-mails and cell calls to friends and family . . .

Wednesday morning ~ stormy . . . power, TV, internet, and cell intact . . . breakfast downstairs (instant grits with butter and toasted toscano pano with peanut butter for me; oatmeal, juice, and toast for BFF) . . . another hotel guest helpfully pointed out a small unidentified SNAKE resting in the track of the sliding doors . . . on the INSIDE of the room . . . chose breakfast table on the FAR SIDE of the room . . . watched weather updates . . .

Wednesday afternoon ~ lunch in room (broccoli salad for me and cheese sandwich for BFF) . . . weather channel updates . . . massive flooding an hour south of our hotel . . . power out at 4 pm . . . dinner in the dark (PB&J with chips) . . . listening to radio updates on IAN . . . in bed at 8 pm listening to the radio in our PJ’s . . . relaxed, calm, cozy until . . .

Wednesday night ~ yelling in the hallway . . . banging on the doors . . . got up to investigate . . . hotel manager shouting . . . “GET OUT.  THE ROOF IS ABOUT TO COLLAPSE” . . . looked into darkened hallway . . . saw figures with flashlights at the end of the hall . . . heard water gushing into the hotel corridor . . . grabbed wallet, keys, i-Pad, eyeglasses, and sneakers . . .  ran down two flights of stairs in the dark . . . herded into meeting room . . . staked out a corner for us . . . realized that having a change of clothes in the morning would be nice . . . BFF returned to room to get our two suitcases, hurricane notebook, and toiletries . . . he tossed everything else on the bed (leaving the room in inhospitable disarray) . . . Fire Marshall arrived . . . water to hotel turned off . . . a pressurized pipe in the 3rd floor ceiling had burst . . . told that we would be allowed to return to our rooms (except for a few hotel guests with rooms at the end of the corridor where the carpet was too wet, and the ceiling tiles too far gone, for occupancy) . . . back in our room by 11 pm . . . no power and no running water for flushing . . . we did have bottled water for washing,  brushing our teeth, and drinking . . . bed at midnight . . . slept about 4 hours and then spent a few hours staring at the ceiling and listening to the storm rage outside . . .

Thursday morning ~ calm after the storm . . . breakfast in room in the dark with no running water, no coffee, and no tea . . . checked in with the manager about whether either power or water would be back soon . . . not likely . . . BFF went to the sister hotel next door to collect water to flush our toilet . . . 2 flights down and 2 flights back with gallons of water . . . I started setting the disarray to right . . . listened to weather updates on the radio . . . nothing about our neighborhood . . . we started to pack stuff to return to the car . . . still unsure whether we could get home . . . called police department (no live operator) . . . called Emergency Management for Manatee County . . . told that the bridges to Anna Maria Island would be open at 11 . . . we live just East of the island . . . decided we would check out . . . carried everything (except for a few suspect food items) down two flights of interior stairs (using flashlights to light the way) and loaded the car . . . beautiful breeze with clearing skies . . . promising . . . headed for home . . . traffic lights out . . . trees down . . . signs no longer standing . . . damage not too bad . . . route 70 mostly clear of debris . . . same with 26th St. W . . . more trees down . . . route 64 in pretty good shape . . . HOME at noon . . . no power & no water but villa intact . . . YAY!

Thursday afternoon ~ left everything in the car in case we decided to leave again . . . enjoyed a PB&J sandwich, no sides . . . good enough . . . BFF gathered buckets to scoop water from the community pool for flushing toilets (next time, fill buckets BEFORE evacuating) . . . noticed our departure checklist on the kitchen counter . . . AHA! . . . “BFF, didn’t YOU turn off the water before we left?” . . . he grinned and said he did . . . he undid that deed and water flowed forth from the faucets . . . HUZZAH!

Thursday afternoon ~ with water restored, we decided to stay . . . continued to drink bottled water in case there is “BOIL WATER NOTICE” for our neighborhood . . . unloaded the car . . . took down the hurricane shutters . . . opened the house to the gorgeous breeze . . . peeked into the freezer and saw that our containers of ice cubes were still cubes with almost no melted ice . . . shut the freezer FAST . . . called a few family members and friends but cell cut out after 60 seconds each time . . . long enough to let them know where we were . . . younger bro relayed message to rest of family . . . found out sister and family in Orlando survived the storm OK . . . grabbed a COLD beer from the fridge for Happy Hour (for medicinal purposes and to check the temp in the fridge) . . . drank it with chips and hummus . . . drove around neighborhood . . . a couple of trees down across the main drag . . . several palm trees down . . . homes intact . . . cold picnic-style dinner in the lanai watching the sunset (cheese, chips, apple with peanut butter, carrot cake, cookies, etc.) . . . stayed in the lanai until retiring for the evening . . . in our own bed for a few hours . . . then in the living room to sleep (fitfully) with the front and back doors open to the cool breeze . . . happy to be home . . .

Friday morning (Mom’s B’day) ~ returned deck furniture to deck . . . set up camp stove . . . heated water for tea and coffee . . . no 1/2 & 1/2 or milk for coffee . . . blech! . . . but we have a house . . . so no complaints . . . drove inland for ice and WiFi . . . first stop Panera . . . free WiFi for 15 minutes from Spectrum . . . sent a collective e-mail to family and friends with an update . . . glanced at in box . . . nothing urgent or alarming . . . left Panera with a baguette and a bagel . . . 7-11 (no ice) . . . Publix (no ice, but got batteries, bread, and crackers) . . . Liquor store (no ice) . . . Fresh Market (ICE! . . . plus apples and bananas) . . . put ice in freezer and cooler and shuffled some food around to preserve as much as possible . . . lunch in lanai  (cheese, baguette, hummus, celery & carrots, chips, mandarin oranges) . . . house open . . . beautiful breeze . . . took down the rest of the storm shutters . . . cooked dinner on the deck with food from the freezer (colcannon and frozen peas) . . . dinner in lanai . . . slept (fitfully) in living room with the front and back doors open to the cool breeze . . . serenaded by a chorus of contented frogs . . .

Saturday morning ~ heated water for tea and toasted bagel on camp stove . . . no 1/2 & 1/2, so no coffee . . . not worth it . . . checked ice situation . . . lots of melting ice dripping from the bags we bought . . . put containers under waterfalls of melting ice to stem the tide . . . messy situation, but not dire . . . more ice would be good . . . drove inland for ice, internet and propane for the camp stove . . . BFF dropped me at Panera for free WiFi from Spectrum . . . sent a quick collective e-mail to family and friends with an update . . . checked storm updates and weather updates . . . BFF went to ACE (no propane) . . . left Panera with BFF . . . Fresh Market (no ice) . . . Publix (no ice, but bought tomatoes, instant grits, caramels . . . over the Bridge to AMI . . . Ace Hardware (propane!) . . . cranked up cook stove . . . lunch in lanai (grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato, and pea salad with carrots & celery) . . .

Saturday afternoon ~ condensed everything perishable into fridge and consolidated all ice . . . left freezer and cooler empty . . . checked temp an hour later . . . 40 degrees . . . perfect . . . tossed a few suspect items (mayo, slushy green peppers, wilted celery, chopped tomatoes) . . . later, listening to radio . . . “Manatee County schools may re-open on Monday” . . . school board must be optimistic that power will be restored by then . . . Yay! . . . planned veggie rice dish for dinner with grilled baguette and bruschetta topping (tomatoes, olive oil, basil, oregano, garlic, chives, etc.) . . . went to the kitchen to get water and noticed that someone had left the light on in the pantry . . . walked over to turn it off . . . Wait!  Yes!  The light is on in the pantry . . . Power’s Back! . . . “BFF, can you come here for a minute?”  . . . Why? (grumble, grumble) . . . “There’s a, uh,  lizard in the pantry.” . . . more grumbling from BFF . . . until he saw the LIGHT! . . . Yay! . . . plugged TV and computer and modem in . . . service restored! . . . set the auto ice-maker to “warp speed” . . . called brothers and sisters . . . started catching up on e-mails . . . fixed a bourbon and ginger . . . moved some food and ice into the freezer . . . checked in with neighbors who returned at 5 pm . . . took them their mail and shared storm stories . . . dinner in the living room watching TV (veggie rice with toasted baguette and bruschetta topping) . . . watched storm stories on TV . . . bed early . . . and stayed there . . . at last, a good night’s sleep . . . ZZZZZ!

Sunday ~ made two pots of soup to use ALL the frozen veggies that survived the storm (spinach, corn, green beans, broccoli) plus the rest of the fresh veggies (chopped cabbage, celery, carrots) . . . added veggies to the veggie rice . . . that’s nice . . . took soup and carrot cake to neighbors who had to toss everything in their fridge and freezer . . . soup for lunch . . . baked Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies (to use 2 eggs that rode out the storm) . . . ate fresh cookies . . . yum . . . veggie rice casserole for dinner . . . watched Lucy Worsley Investigates (about Witch Hunts in England in the 1500’s) . . .

Monday ~ walk on the beach . . . library to return books and DVD’s . . . CVS (to pick up a few sundries) . . . FM (Croissants, lemons, bananas . . . but no 1/2 & 1/2) . . . Publix (for 1/2 & 1/2 . . . and ice cream, carrots, cheese, green beans) . . . had croissants and coffee (with 1/2 & 1/2) . . . finished baking cookies . . . soup for lunch . . . caught up on accumulated e-mails . . . put suitcases and flashlights away . . . breathed a contented sigh of relief . . .

Tuesday ~ wrote IAN: In A Nutshell . . . 

Aah . . . that’s better!

Have you ever had to evacuate? What did you leave behind that you wish you had taken? What did you take with you that you didn’t need?

My answers:

*This is our 2nd mandatory evacuation.  We also had a voluntary evacuation when we lived in Maryland on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay.  That time, we stayed home with Tigger and sustained some storm surge (which deposited 100’s of jellyfish on our lawn) but we never lost power.

*I wish I had brought a set of “winter clothes” (long pants, turtlenecks, sweatshirts, slippers, flannel pj’s) to leave in the car during the storm . . . in case the villa was wiped out and we had to head north to stay with family for an extended period of time.  I also wish I had remembered to bring some chapstick.  😀

*The storm shift caught many people by surprise since the expected landfall & ETA wobbled about.  We didn’t think the hotel we chose would lose power.  It did.  We thought the power would be back on soon.  It wasn’t.  We didn’t know that we would lose running water in the hotel.  We did.  In light of potential (and realized) issues with power and water, I wish I had just stuck with PB&J sandwiches and snacks (fruit and cookies) rather than bringing perishable foods that had to be eaten before the power went out (e.g., broccoli, salad dressing, lettuce, yogurt, cottage cheese, 1/2 & 1/2).

What is imperative during an evacuation?

*Stash buckets of water in the tub for flushing toilets and washing up on return.  Bring lots and lots of bottled water with you in case the water pipes in the hotel burst and the water main is shut off.  Leave lots and lots of water at home in case you don’t have water on your return.

*Get as much ice into the fridge and freezer as possible before you leave or take all perishable food with you.  Don’t leave loose (or bagged) ice in freezer where it will melt over food.  Put all ice in containers.  Check freezer on return to see if ice cubes are still cubes.  If so, most food should still be frozen and safe to eat.  Buy ice as needed.  If unavailable, consolidate all food and ice in one spot with a thermometer.  Check to make sure temp stays below 40 degrees.  If it goes above 40 degrees, start tossing things like mayo, thawed veggies, etc.

*Keep your cell phone charged.  If a neighbor is running a generator, ask if you can re-charge your phone for a few minutes. FYI:  a fully charged phone is no use without cell service and we lost many towers with IAN.  We still don’t have cell service, except sporadically.  I received 9 voice mail messages today (Tuesday) ~ they have been hovering somewhere in cyberspace since last Thursday.

*Don’t unpack your suitcase and toiletries at the hotel.  That way, if you are evacuated in the middle of the night, in the dark, without power, due to the anticipated imminent collapse of the roof, you can grab your bags and race to safety.  Also, keep your flashlights handy.  We kept one in our pocket at all times.

***Maintain a sense of humor and find things to laugh about (“at least it’s not the black plague”).

Food Justice Film Festival 2022 September 7, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Food & Drink, Sustainable Living.
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This free online film festival presented by the Center for Biological Diversity showcases six films addressing food justice.

Films are scheduled daily during September 15-18.

Featured Films:

Poisoning Paradise (Sept. 15)

Fruits of Labor (Sept. 16)

RETURN (Sept. 17)

From Gangs to Gardens (Sept. 17)

The Seed Saver (Sept. 17)

I’m Just A Layman in Pursuit of Justice:  Black Farmers Fight Against the USDA (Sept. 18)

Register by clicking “Sign up for FJFF 2022”, then go to Passes+ to get your free film festival pass!

Aah . . . that’s the ticket!

Down The Hatch March 25, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure.
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After our climb, we had dinner on the shores of the Halifax River at Down the Hatch, an iconic seafood restaurant in Ponce Inlet that has been on my radar for years . . .

The name got my attention right away.

We arrived in time for Happy Hour with 2-for-1 domestic drafts and yummy corn fritters!

While we waited for dinner and enjoyed our drinks, we soaked up the view from our table as the sun set.

The waitresses were friendly and attentive.

The only downside?  The menu was a bit heavy on the fried  for us . . . which worked to the advantage of a friendly dog, Tucker, located at the next table.

Tucker gleefully scarfed down proffered fried clams from my basket, while counting his canine blessings.  When we left, we gave a doggy bag to Tucker with the remainder of my meal.

Before leaving, we snapped one last photo op before calling it a night.

Aah . . . that’s better!

B. Cereus February 24, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, Home & Garden.
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This is a public health announcement about any leftover rice and pasta you have in your fridge.

Don’t eat it without REHEATING it enough to kill any B. Cereus toxins loitering about on it.

A 19-year-old college student ate leftover lo mein and ended up having his fingers and legs amputated.

I’m serious:

The Massachusetts college student had eaten rice, chicken and lo mein from a restaurant. Soon after, he felt abdominal pain and his skin turned a shade of purple, according to a report by The New England Journal of Medicine.

The teenager was admitted to a hospital for “shock, multiple organ failure, and rash,” and his condition quickly declined. He experienced abnormal breathing, high blood pressure and vomiting. The student had been healthy overall with regular drinking and smoking habits, the report said.

Bacillus Cereus (B. Cereus) is a nasty bacterium that hangs out on dried rice and pasta.  Once it is cooked, the bacteria comes alive and starts to multiply.

The bacteria produces a toxin when heated and left out too long, according to the CDC.

For that reason, it’s important to cool rice and pasta in shallow containers.  Never in a big pot.

And to be super safe, reheat FULLY before consuming.

Your fingers and toes will thank you!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Happy Bloody Mary Day! January 1, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
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We enjoyed a night in last night watching two uplifting and inspiring movies ~ The Bucket and The Exception.  One set during World War I and the other set during World War II.

We’re a complicated bunch, but most of us (not Himmler, not Hitler) sparkle and shine from time to time.

We paused the second movie at midnight to tune into Times Square for the final countdown:

3 – 2 – 1 . . . Happy New Year!

We stayed up far too late and got up far too early so we won’t be crossing many things off our To Do Lists today.

Instead, we’ll enjoy coffee and croissants before heading to the beach for a walk and then on to the pier to toast the New Year with a $1 Bloody Mary (or two).  Cheers!

Here’s to 2022!

Hope your year is more UP than DOWN.

Aah . . . that’s better!

The Twelve Days of Croissants December 21, 2021

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
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I’ve pressed the pause button on my gluten free diet for the remainder of the year so that we can enjoy warm croissants each morning with coffee.


We’ll celebrate Christmas (a few days post) with my sister’s family in Orlando eating ANYTHING we want.

In moderation, of course.

In sum, we shall spend the rest of 2021 feeling fat, jolly, and festive!

Just like Good St. Nick!

Hope you find all the right ways to celebrate!


Soon It Will Be Christmas Day December 2, 2021

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Gratitude, Happiness, Home & Garden.
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I decorated for Christmas today (even though I’m feeling too nostalgic to feel truly festive).

I want Christmas to be the way Christmas was when I was NOT the oldest generation . . . or even the second oldest.

I’d like my parents and grandparents and great aunt Edie to be back in the mix, instead of being mired in memory.

I want to watch mom doing all the heavy lifting, effortlessly ~ she mastered the art of balancing holiday shopping AND holiday baking, while turning out scones, stollen, Yorkshire pudding, plum pudding, miniature nut & fruit cupcakes, egg nog, and dozens of Christmas cookies.

I feel fat & jolly and roly poly just thinking about all those delicious calories and treats!

No wonder Santa needs so many reindeer to pull his sleigh . . .

And, while we’re on the subject, I want my grandfather back making whiskey sours for us to sip while we open presents galore, piled high under the fragrant (or fake) Christmas tree.

Alas! Time only moves forward.

Leaving us here, surrounded by mementos and memories and vestiges of the past.

Here’s to having a Holly Jolly Holiday, Here, Now . . . with whatever kith and kin we have left!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Does Christmas make you nostalgic for the days of yore?  What do you miss most?  And what do you love best Here & Now?

Let’s Talk Turkey November 9, 2021

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Gratitude, Happiness, Humor.
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“Each Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that I was born a parrot and not a turkey.”

“I say, I say, I say . . . being a rooster this time of year is more better than being a turkey.”

~ Foghorn Leghorn

“What?  Stop looking at me!  I’m not a turkey.  I’m a cow.  MOO!”

“I am not a turkey.  I am not a turkey.  I am not a turkey.  I am not a turkey.”

“Well, I’m a turkey and proud of it.  Of course, if I’m on your dinner table . . . it’ll be as a place holder or name tag NOT as the main course.”

~ Greta Gobbler

Aah . . . that’s better!

Wakulla Springs October 25, 2021

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
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There’s lots to do at Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.

Hiking Trails over the river and through the woods.

Watching the water for manatees, mermaids, alligators, and avian visitors.

Boat Rides down the Wakulla River for bird and gator sightings aplenty.

Dining (and lodging) in the historic Lodge.

But here’s a quick tip:  don’t plan to dive into the largest and deepest fresh water springs in the world UNLESS you’re a fan of 68 degree water temps.

After darkness descended outside, we dined inside ~> BFF opted for a French Dip and Fries while I enjoyed a grilled veggie stack (zucchini, summer squash, roasted peppers) smothered in marinara and mozzarella served with two sides.

I chose cheese grits AND smashed red skin potatoes.

Don’t judge.

Unlike our earlier hesitation about diving into the Springs, we dove into the food as soon as it arrived . . . before snapping a single shot.  My bad.

As slight consolation, here’s a view of the elegant and historic dining room.

Aah . . . that’s better!