Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Trees, Garage, a Dog, and Supper

the dense forest behind our house, just steps from the patio
Those who have followed my blog from the days of "The Brown Bungalow" to the current "Sweet Tea and Sandals" know how much I love the Rocky Mountains that Beloved and I have called "home" for most of the 46 years of our marriage. 

However, now that we have been transported to the East Coast (as of just last week!), the Atlantic Ocean, the St. Johns River, and the forest in our very own back yard have me transfixed. 

Just this evening as we enjoyed our second home-cooked meal in our as-yet-unfurnished house, we could see the rays of the setting sun streaming through the tree branches. 

A similar sight brought me to literal tears many years ago when we had just moved to Seattle and had nothing but rain for days on end. One morning the sun hit the dining room wall, again filtered through a forest in our back yard. 

Truly, the Lord has created light for our joy and illumination, as so many Bible verses teach. 

The LORD is my light and
my salvation --
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold 
of my life --
of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

Today I discovered the name of an ornamental tree in our back yard that stands beautifully near the Magnolia tree:

Callistemon Bottlebrush as seen from our patio
and up close
These trees are everywhere in town, very distinctive with their "bottle brush" flowers. I did a little reading up on them and learned they are low-maintenance and very content with the climate in Jacksonville. (hooray!!!)

In all of the houses Beloved and I have bought and sold over the years, over half of them have been "new builds," which meant that after the builder's basic landscaping package was put in, the rest was up to us.  I love it that this time the previous owners have done all the planting for us and everything is beautifully mature (and well planned out!).
* * * * *
As for today, the painter finished up in the garage. Yesterday he and his assistant put two coats of white paint on the garage ceiling and walls, and cleaned up the floor in preparation for today.

the garage at Magnolia Place
Today they stained (not painted) the garage floor a light gray. We are to refrain from putting the car in the garage until Friday so it can completely dry in this humid climate. Beloved had this done in the garage at The Brown Bungalow, too. It goes a long way to making a garage look neat and tidy -- something Beloved loves to maintain (and I am so glad he does!!). 

By the way, we have been told to use stain on the garage floor, not paint. Paint makes the floor VERY slippery when it gets wet. Stain does not.

the Butler's pantry
In yesterday's post I mentioned the Butler's pantry but did not show a picture of it. This is like a short hallway that connects the living/dining room area to the kitchen. Beloved will keep his Keurig coffee maker in there. He needed a small, countertop trash can for his empty K-cups. We have searched high and low for a specific style of trash receptacle we had in mind. After seeing our defeat in that, we opted for a cookie jar instead!

Find him at Walmart for $12.72

Charlie the Basset Hound (made famous by Food Network's Pioneer Woman) is a cookie jar we found at Walmart this afternoon. He is soo cute!!!

You may know that Rea Drummond's Basset Hound, Charlie, was made famous on her Food Network show, and she wrote at least one book about him.  Sadly, he died a few months ago. But he lives on in our hearts.  To read his story, click here.

We are dog people here, although the only canines we have now are 3 grand-puppies that we hope will come with their people on visits! We had a Basset Hound named Elmer years ago, and Sister has had 15 Basset Hounds over the years.

that fancy red sauce is Heinz Ketchup

The last thing I wanted to share with you in tonight's post is what we had for supper this evening, again, working with minimal tools in my new kitchen. The menu was a hearty green salad (always! around here), which only requires a cutting board and a good knife. 

We also had caramelized onions prepared in the only pan I brought in the car, pre-cooked steak and chicken strips from the frozen foods aisle of Publix, and French Fries made with my new toy:
purchased at Walmart for $17.99
Cooking with these copper colored pans is all the rage right now. I bought this sheet pan with basket yesterday and tried it out this evening. There are no cooking instructions with it, but all I did was to slice baking potatoes into a uniform size (for even cooking) and baked them for 45 minutes at 400 degrees F. 

The box says no oil is needed, so I would equate the outcome of these fries to air-popped popcorn. Healthier but lacking the flavor oil adds. After they came out of the oven, I sprayed them with Pam cooking spray to help the salt and pepper adhere to the fries better. That helped. 

By the way, I was just guessing on the time and temperature. The next time I'll probably bake them another 5 or 10 minutes to make them just a bit more tender. But Beloved said these were fine as they were.

We've got 3 more nights to sleep in this hotel and then our moving truck is scheduled to unload all the furniture. Can't wait!


  1. I wish you could see my smiles...I am so very happy for you. How are holding up with the humidity? What a difference from Colorado, right? smiles

  2. Yay, I was hoping to see the butler's pantry!

    The landscaping is so nice and what a blessing not to have to do it yourself. I smiled when I saw that your hubby likes to maintain an orderly garage. Mine is the opposite, and so is our garage ... Oh well.

    What fun that you can cook and enjoy meals in your new home even though you haven't actually moved in!

  3. We have bottle brush here in Texas and I love them! Hope all goes well and you get settled in soon.

  4. We don't have bottle brushes. Glad that you like it and that it is happy in your yard. I like Charlie! Your grands will like him, too. And he's for used K-cups...

    You must be getting so eager for the furniture and boxes. Then you'll start diving into boxes and we won't see you for a while.

    Oh meant to say that I really like that treatment for the garage floor.

  5. I'm so glad you are settling in (even without your furniture yet) and are starting to feel at home. Having landscaping done is sure a plus and your garage looks too pretty to put the cars in now! The one thing we miss is our garage. We have a great carport here in our new home, but you can't store "stuff" in a carport. The garage was such a great place to store things we didn't have room for in the house. Probably just as well we had to get rid of it and the things stored there!!