Our First Thanksgiving in Paradise


Thanksgiving has come and gone and we're beginning to take a break from the holiday hustle in preparation for Christmas which is rapidly approaching.   Being in paradise during the holidays is a little strange. There's no cold weather, defiantly no snow in sight and it seems a little crazy trying to decorate for fall and winter when it's clearly still 75 degrees and sunny outside.  

We decided to do Thanksgiving day at my father's house.  He lives just a few minutes away from us here in Perdido which makes it very convenient.   It's been years and years and YEARS since I spent the holidays with any of my family so we were in for a real treat.  I am just beside myself with joy watching our girls interact with their grandfather on a more regular basis now.  Being able to see him and spend time with him everyday is a blessing that I don't have words for.  This move was long overdue, and we're busy making up for lost time. 

Erick and my father deep fried a turkey, we also cooked a ham and had countless sides, several pies and plenty of other desserts.  I always cook way to much food during the holidays but I figure if you're gonna do it, do it right. Everyone loves holiday leftovers and we only cook big meals like this several times a year.  Enjoy it to the fullest I say! 

After a very filling meal, we spent the rest of the weekend just our little family on Orange Beach, in the Perdido Beach Resort.  The girls had a wonderful time swimming and Erick and I enjoyed the hot tubs and relaxation. 

We enjoyed the restaurants and buffets at the resort too.  Noahh was absolutely thrilled when she spotted the coffee creamers on the table. C'mon. I know I'm not the only mom who lets their kids drink these...right? I remember when I was little how much I loved to drink them when I would be a the cafe with my parents.  I couldn't have been much older than Noahh is now. 

Sunny and 75'. Can't ask for anything better for the end of November. 

The resort was lovely and the perfect ending to a long week of cooking and preparation for Thanksgiving.  

One thing we never tire of is the beach. We are on one beach or another at least once or twice every single day. It's good for the kids to get outside and play, and I love the sunshine and breezes that come up off the water.  We collect shells, build sand castles, and the kids love playing in the water. 

 We left the resort and traveled up to the Wharf in Orange Beach, Al to hit up the ferris wheel.  

 Noahh didn't quite know what to think about it, but we had an amazing view of Orange Beach. 

 After the festivities at the Wharf you guessed it...we headed back to the beach for some more playtime and fishing. Something just feels a little "off" in your day if you don't manage to throw a line out into the water at least once.  

Our Lives Via Instagram (In Case You Missed It!)

Our lives via Instagram last week! 

November 24th- November 28th, 2015

Our first Thanksgiving here in paradise was quite the deal. We really enjoyed being with papa and all of the new experiences that brought. 

I think we might have started a new tradition as well! Waffle House on Thanksgiving Eve. Let's face it, after I had just spent two days baking and cooking the last thing I wanted to do that night was cook a meal.  Waffle House hit the spot.

On Thanksgiving day we loaded up one of the cars full of food and headed for papa's house.

We had WAY to much food, but hey... the best part of Thanksgiving is having all of those amazing leftovers, right? 

The girls spent every day last week at the beach. Sand castles were built, fishing poles were cast, rope swings were swung... we just had a really great time all being together.

We're harvesting wild persimmons at the beach these days too. Think I'm gonna plant some seeds. Who knows! 

We spent Thanksgiving weekend at Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Alabama. Such a beautiful resort and we had a grand time swimming in the pools, treating ourselves to ice cream and souvenir shopping along the beach.  Oh and we rode the ferris wheel at the wharf too! 

Our Lives Via Instagram (In Case You Missed It!)

Our lives via Instagram last week! 

November 17th- November 23rd, 2015

Our neighbor gifted us a small basket of calamondins with an invitation to take as many more as we'd like from her tree. We were THRILLED! Time to make more Candied Calamondins

Speaking of gifts, we also received two jars of green beans and pickled beets. I think that our neighbors and new friends here have figured us out pretty quickly. First, we never turn down food...and second...we are obsessed with food in jars

Last and FINALY gift to us last week was a variety of hot and sweet peppers. Currently I have them drying on a piece of fishing line so we can harvest the seeds.

I spotted a neat looking squid on the beach. 

Sunrises have my heart. 

We traveled to Mobile, Al. for their Tree Lighting downtown and it was magical. 

Our gardens are thriving and it's the end of November. LOVE FLORIDA GARDENING!
PS. Check out those white roots on the hydroponic cilantro plants!  

Companion Planting Chart

Companion planting is a wonderful way to elevate your garden.  Want to take things to the next level and naturally deter pests, enrich your soil, and improve the quality and quantity of your crops?  Different plants do different things and when you place them next to another crop they are likely to either have a good or bad impact on them.  I've created a chart with some of our tried and true companion planting techniques.  

Good CompanionsBad Companions
ApplesChives, Horsetail (Equisetum), Foxgloves, Wallflowers
Nasturtiums, Garlic, Onions
ApricotsBasil, Tansy, SouthernwoodTomatoes, Sage
AsparagusTomatoes, Parsley, Basil
BasilTomatoes, Asparagus, Parsley, Apricots, Oregano, Peppers, Sage Rue
Beans, bushBeets, Carrots, Catnip, Corn, Cucumbers, Cabbages, Lettuce, Peas, Marigolds, Parsley, Cauliflower, Spinach, Summer Savory, Potatoes, Strawberries, Sunflowers, LavenderOnions, Garlic, Fennel, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Shallots, Chives, Peppers
Beans, poleCorn, Marigolds, Potatoes, Radishes, Sunflowers, LavenderBeets, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Onions, Shallots, Fennel, Peppers, Chives 
BeetrootOnions, Silverbeet, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Cabbage
Dwarf Beans, Broccoli, Brussels, Bush Beans, Cauliflower, Chard, Kohlrabi, Garlic
Tall beans, Mustards
BorageStrawberries, Squash, Tomatoes
Brussels SproutsNasturtiums, Buckwheat, Carrots, Calendula, Chamomile, Dill, Hyssop, Beets, Marigolds, Mint, Sage, Thyme, Wormwood, Rosemary Strawberries
BroccoliNasturtiums, Buckwheat, Carrots, Calendula, Chamomile, Dill, Hyssop, Beets, Marigolds, Mint, Sage, Thyme, Wormwood, RosemaryStrawberries, Tomatoes, Peppers, Pole Beans, Squash
CabbagesBeans, Beetroot. Celery, Mint, Thyme, Sage, Onions
Rosemary, Dill, Potatoes, Chamomile, Oregano
Hyssop, Southernwood, Nasturtiums, Tansy, Coriander, Broccoli, Brussels
Rue, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Garlic, Pole Beans, Peppers
CarrotsPeas, Radishes, Potatoes, RosemaryLettuce, Chives, Sage, Onions, Leeks, Wormwood
CauliflowersCelery, Beans, Tansy, Nasturtiums, Broccoli, Brussels, Chard, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Peppers, Pole Beans, Squash
CeleryTomatoes, Dill. Beans, Leeks, Cabbage, Cauliflowers
ChamomileMint, Cabbages, Onions
ChervilDill, Coriander, Radish
ChivesParsley, Apples, Carrots, Grapes, Peas, Roses, TomatoesBeans, Peas
CorianderDill, Chervil, Anise, Cabbages, CarrotsFennel
CucumbersPotatoes (early crop only), Beans, Celery, Lettuce
Sweet Corn, Savoy Cabbages, Sunflowers, Nasturtiums
Late potatoes
Dill*Tomatoes, Cabbage, Fennel, Coriander, Broccoli, Brussels, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Lettuce, Onions Carrots, Sage
FennelDill, CorianderBeans, Tomatoes, Kohlrabi, Coriander, Wormwood
FoxglovesApples, Potatoes, Tomatoes
FuchsiasBasil, Gooseberries, Tomatoes
GarlicRoses, Apples, Peaches, Cabbage, Cane FruitsPeas, Beans, Cabbages, Strawberries
GladioliStrawberries, Beans, Peas
GrapevinesGeraniums, Mulberries, Hyssop, Basil, Tansy
HorseradishFruit trees, Potatoes
HyssopGrapevines, CabbagesRadishes
KohlrabiBeetroot, OnionsTomatoes, Beans, Fennel
LeeksCarrots, CeleryGarlic, Peas
LettuceCarrots, Onions, Strawberries, Beetroot,  Radishes, Marigolds, Parsnips Cabbages
MarigoldsLettuce, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Roses, EggplantBeans
MelonsSweet Corn
MintCabbages, Chamomile, EggplantParsley
NasturtiumsApples, Cabbages, Cauliflowers, Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts, Kohlrabi, Turnips, Radishes
Cucumbers, Zucchini, Beans, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Squash
OnionsCarrots, Beetroot, Silverbeet, Lettuce, Chamomile
Kohlrabi, Summer Savory, Cabbage, Parsnips
 Beans, Peas
ParsleyTomatoes, Asparagus, Roses, Chives, Corn
ParsnipsPeas, Potatoes, Peppers, Beans, Radishes, Garlic, Onions, WormwoodCarrots, Celery, Caraway
PeachesTansy, Garlic, Basil, Southernwood
PeasPotatoes, Radishes, Carrots, Turnips, EggplantsOnions, Shallots, Garlic, Gladioli
PotatoesPeas, Beans, Cabbage, Sweetcorn, Broad Beans
Green Beans, Nasturtiums, Marigolds, Foxgloves
Horse Radish, Egg Plant
Apples, Cherries, Cucumbers (with any but early crops)
Pumpkins, Sunflowers, Tomatoes, Raspberries, Rosemary
RadishesLettuces, Peas, Chervil, Nasturtiums, Cucumbers, Root CropsHyssop
RaspberriesTansyBlackberries, Potatoes
RosesGarlic, Parsley, Onions, Mignonette, Marigolds
RueSage, Basil
SageCarrots, Cabbages, Strawberries, TomatoesBasil, Rue, Wormwood, Cucumbers, Dill
SavoryBeans, Onions
SilverbeetOnions, Beetroot, Lavender
SpinachStrawberries, Celery, Eggplant, Cucumbers
StrawberriesBorage, Lettuce, Spinach, Sage, Pyrethrum, BeansCabbages, Cauliflowers, Brussels Sprouts, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Garlic
SunflowersSquash, CucumberPotatoes
SweetcornBroad Beans, Potatoes, Melons, Tomatoes
Cucumber, Squash, Tansy
TansyCabbage, Roses, Raspberries, Grapes, Peaches
ThymeCabbage family
TomatoesAsparagus, Celery, Parsley, Basil, Carrots, Chives
Marigolds, Foxgloves, Garlic, Sweetcorn, Cabbage, Mustards, Onions, Rosemary, Sage, Nettles
Rosemary, Potatoes, Kohlrabi, Fennel
Apricots, Strawberries, Dill, Walnuts, Corn
TurnipsNasturtiums, Peas Mustards
WormwoodAll other plants
ZucchiniNasturtiums, MarigoldBroccoli, Cauliflower

Our Lives Via Instagram (In Case You Missed It!)

Our lives via Instagram last week! 

November 9th- November 16th, 2015

Bok choy is DELICIOUS. Thank heavens we have more than plenty growing in the gardens!

We opened our FIRST jar of wassail and it was absolutely divine.  It never really feels like the holidays until we've had our first traditional cup of hot wassail.  

Lettuce! Now that the temps here in north Florida have cooled down a bit (yeah, and that means to like 78-80 degrees), our lettuces and greens have really taken off. Even under the shade cloth during the warmer months they don't grow very quickly.  We've got an abundance of ready to eat greens now! 

Papa, Noahh and I literally saved a bird.  It caught our eye and we found it tangled up in a wad of fishing line in the water.  FREE BIRD!

Our shrimp plants are putting on a lovely display of their flowers.  We picked up these plants from the Master Gardener Plant Sale a few weeks ago for just $2.00 a piece.
The sunsets here are amazing. Every. Single. Night. 

We're learning to love Dunkin Donuts for their DONUTS...not coffee. 

I was introduced to the BEST DARN GREEK FOOD eva'.  Not surprised it came from a food truck. Hey remember when we would visit the food trucks in PORTLAND?! 

We have planted another round of cool-crops into the hydroponic beds.  I'll admit, I planted mostly red cabbage this round. For no other reason than it's my favorite and at the time I was craving german food. 

Sand or snow? Nobody can tell but I DO LOVE the new RED CUP from Starbucks. 

9 Ways To Used Dehydrated Oranges

This time of year I like to start taking oranges and dehydrating them for the upcoming holidays. It won't be long before they get here and this is one of those things that's easy and simple enough to do while I'm working around the house doing chores or I can even let them run overnight in the dehydrator while I sleep.  It is so effortless but has a huge payoff for us during the holidays.  We use them in everything!

I begin by washing the oranges and then slicing them into 1/2 inch round pieces.

 Most people dehydrate them plain but I prefer to spice them up with all of our favorite spices so it really adds a depth of flavor to the dishes I'll be creating with these later on. 

 I suggest ground ginger, ground allspice, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and whole cloves.

 I think the best place to put the whole cloves into the orange, is just into the center of each circle.  

These can take a while to dehydrate, especially if they are cut thick.  Plan on at least 8 hours if you're using a dehydrator similar to the one that we're using.

Once your oranges have cooled down completely from the dehydrating process, store them in an airtight container with an oxygen absorber.  This will ensure the oranges stay as fresh as possible.  I love storing them in mason jars because they are very pretty to look at. I leave them out on the counter for display during the holidays too.

So now that you have dehydrated oranges you might be wondering what you could use them for? Oh the possibilities are endless!  But here's just a quick list of 9 of our favorite ways to use dehydrated orange slices. 

Dried Orange Uses

1. Simmer on the stove-top in water for a homemade potpourri.

2. Grind up and use as seasoning in desserts, soups, and more.

3. Add to apple-cider or homemade wassail for a holiday beverage.

4. Poke a hole in the center & sting some twine or raffia in a loop to make an adorable and aromatic christmas tree ornament.

5. Chop/grind into small pieces and add to homemade soaps.

6. Add a piece into your teapot when brewing your favorite tea.

7. Incorporate them into a brine for your Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey.

8. Add a slice to your hot cocoa! (chocolate & oranges... a classic combination!)

9. Chop and rehydrate then add to your holiday marmalades.

Our Lives Via Instagram (In Case You Missed It)

Our lives via Instagram last week! 

November 4th- November 8th, 2015

Our house has smelled delicious ALL WEEK LONG! 

First it was processing sugar pumpkins. That's right...pumpkin seeds, pumpkin guts and pumpkin puree for baked goods galore!  The only thing I didn't do was preserve pumpkins by canning it. In fact, I think I still have a few half-gallons of this stuff in my pantry from last year.  That means PIE! 

I made Pumpkin Guts Bread and it was delicious! 

We've played on the beach EVERY.DAY.THIS.WEEK. No joke. 

I dehydrated plenty of oranges for the upcoming holidays.

We collected WAY to many shells this last week.  

The baby and I made handprint keepsakes made out of a dough using REAL SAND! 

We indulged in our new Saturday morning ritual by taking donuts to the husbands job and I snuck one for myself. Lemon...yum! 

Our first ghost pepper plant seed has germinated. Fingers crossed we get at least ONE MORE to germinate! 

How to Make Sand Clay Handprint Keepsakes

These are a wonderful way to preserve memories from a beach trip or vacation!  While you're at the beach, collect enough sand and small shells, pebbles or sea-glass to decorate your keepsake.  I usually just fill a large container with sand that way I know I'll have plenty.  The recipe calls for 2 cups, and this will make about 4 or so of these keepsakes, depending on the size you mold yours to be. This is a simple, easy, fun and inexpensive craft that kids of all ages will enjoy, and even teenagers. Heck, I had a great time making these with our youngest, Noahh who is just three!  Want a romantic craft to do with your spouse or partner? Try doing your footprints next to one another on a larger sized keepsake. 

Noahh & Minnie watching the surfers at the beach

Start by collecting clean, beautiful sand.  Ours here in Perdido Key is as white as snow, which we're really fortunate to have.

Measure out & mix together all of your ingredients. (Sand, flour, warm water & salt)

2 cups sand
1 1/2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
1 cup warm water
1 1/4 cups salt
Your mixture should feel like a dough.  If it's too wet/sticky just add a little bit more dry ingredients like the sand or flour until you get a nice moldable dough similar to a salt-dough which can be rolled into a round ball.

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F.
Separate your dough into several smaller balls depending on how many keepsakes you want to make. 
Once you do that, pat them down flat and fairly thin onto a non-stick cookie sheet or baking sheet.  
Remember to keep them somewhat thin or they won't bake evenly in the oven. Also if you make them too thick they might crack when baking.  We aimed to keep ours all about 1/2 inch thick which was perfect for having her little handprints pushed down into them without making it too thin. 

Noahh was so excited to start putting her hands into the dough! She said we brought the beach home with us and she wanted to play in it!  It was hard keeping her out of it long enough for me to snap this quick picture. 

Finally,... let those kids push their tiny hands into your rolled out dough!

Once your hand prints are all in, gather your shells that you've collected from the beach as well.  

(We wash our shells the night before and soak them in a bleach/water solution just to make sure they are clean and don't stink.  It's also a good opportunity for me to go through them and make sure nothing is still living inside any of them, which happens A LOT over here.)

Place your shells anywhere on your dough, we decided to decorate them by doing a shell border around each circle. 

Now just place your decorated dough with handprints into the oven for about 4 hours. This time will also vary depending on the thickness you used to create your keepsakes.

Once they are thoroughly baked and no longer soft in the center, remove them from the oven and let them cool down.  Once they were cool to the touch, we painted the handprint in a festive "beachy" color and there ya go...a fun and cute way to preserve that trip to the beach you just took!

Speaking of our beach trip, here's a few more pictures of our trip that day! Enjoy.


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