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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

*Recipe* Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day... I'm not really sure how; wasn't Christmas, like, last week?  Anyway, I'm always looking for fun holiday themed recipes and was having some trouble finding a good Valentines one this year.  I came across this recipe and it wasn't Valentinesy at all but sounded delicious and I knew I could doctor them up and make them pretty.  Not only did they turn out delicious, they are ridiculously simple and only really have five ingredients.  From what I understand they were at hit at work and I have barely had the willpower to keep my hands out of the cookie jar myself.  Have a Love-ly Valentine's (or Galentine's or Singles Appreciation Day or whatever you celebrate) and whether its a happy day or not, these cookies will make your day even better!




Ingredients

*I recommend making a double batch*

  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened 
  • 6 Tbsp  salted butter at room temperature 
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 10 Oreos broken into pieces (I used Red Velvet Oreos to make them more for V-day and they were delicious)
  • If you are making them for V-day, add 2 or 3 drops red or pink food coloring 
Directions

  • With a mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add sugar and beat well.

  • Add in flour, a small amount at a time beating on low speed until just incorporated. (add in food coloring here if you are using it)
  • Fold in the broken Oreos.

  • Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 hours. 
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Line a large baking sheet with Parchment paper.  
  • With a spoon, scoop out about a tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball and put onto the cookie sheet. Lightly press down on each cookie.
  • Place pan in the oven and bake for 10-11 minutes until the edges are just barely golden.  They will be very soft but will firm up later.

  • Cool for at least 10 minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer to counter or cooling rack and let cool completely.  


thank you to www.bakerbynature.com for the recipe!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Jim and Cindy in Florida 2018 Edition

My parents came down to Florida to visit this year for most of the month of January.  Even though it turned out to be pretty much the coldest month ever (I'm not exaggerating when I say that, it really was), we had a great time exploring some new places, relaxing and eating a lot of good food.  I of course took a ton of pictures, so here ya go! 



I had to get a classic first day Taco Tuesday picture.


One of our first stops was to Chesnut Park to look for some gators.  We did find gators along with some cormorants, turtles, a ton of different birds and a very friendly squirrel.



 There are about eight baby gators in this picture, can you find them all?


Our next outing was an early morning trip to Honeymoon island for some shelling.  We didn't find a ton but Honeymoon is so beautiful and full of wildlife that it doesn't really matter.  This really is one of my favorite places in the world.







Also weren't my nails cute?


We had a couple dolphins out playing for our entertainment for a while. 


I hate to say it, but this was one of our warmest, and only warm days so when we got back we all hung out by the pool for a couple hours.  Sadly none of us even touched the pool the whole time, as it hovered between 50-60F.




This is one of my little gecko friends, he's new and has no tail.


We went to the Dunedin Downtown Market and mom made a friend, this chameleon, the mascot for Zaqavi Apparel where I also got a really cute hoodie.


Later that day, mom and I finally went and got pedicures.  It seems like forever since I have gotten one so it was very much appreciated!


My pretty Smudge enjoying being outside.


There was an awesome craft market on the main drag in Tarpon Springs that Saturday.  It was freezing but we got some awesome stuff and stopped for lunch and pastries at my favorite Greek restaurant, Hellas.  This place seriously has the best cakes and pastries.


The first night using the fireplace.... It was that cold.



Steak night.  I just love this picture because Smudge looks right into dinner.


I made this new wreath after a several hour trip to Hobby Lobby and all the shells are from various shelling trips in the area.



Dinner at another of our favorite places, Molly Goodheads.


One of my favorite experiences of this trip was going down to the Apollo Beach Manatee Viewing Center.  Because it was so unseasonably cold, the manatees, eagle rays, sharks and lots of other sea life, were huddled up in the warm waters expelled from the power plant.  We saw hundreds of manatees as you can see in these pictures.

A school of fish and an eagle ray.









On our way back, we stopped for a little walking tour of Ybor City, Tampa's "Little Cuba".


We grabbed lunch at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company.... this was Jimmy's "Baby Manatee" calzone.




My squirrel that lives in my tree.


The day that Josh was set to arrive was also the coldest day in like, 40 years.  It also was the day that the Budweiser Clydesdales were set to visit Palm Harbor and do beer deliveries to all of the bars downtown.  We got to watch them get harnessed up and start there trip around town and got some free beer from the Bud girls as well.  We froze our asses off and had a terrible experience at the bar that we were at but it was really cool!




Josh and I at Einstein Brothers for bagels and coffee.



We HAD to go to Lucky Dill Deli for dinner as well.  This is another of our favorite places, with a massive, NYC themed menu and amazing food and cakes and pastries.



We did our annual trip to the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary to see Pongo the Orangutan and some of our other favorite monkeys, birds, goats and turtles.





After that we decided to check out a couple of our favorite breweries, Stilthouse, where we played a ridiculous board game, and Debine where we showed off our Canadian Shuffleboard skills.  Mom and I kicked butt.



The next day we started our road trip south; final destination Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach.  Our first stop was Sand Key, just south of Clearwater beach which has probably the most amazing beach you will ever see in your life.


Lunch was at the Salty Rim, a cute place Josh and I found last year.  They have awesome beach food and a killer Margarita right on the water by St. Pete Beach.


After a few hours of driving, we arrived at our Air BnB literally right on Fort Myers Beach.  This was our canal and the view.


We went to check out the pier at Sunset.





We were up bright and early to be the first ones out on the beach at Sanibel.  Our main purpose of our trip was for some shelling and we really were the first ones on the beach!  It is so pretty there.  We found a ton of shells and really enjoyed our walk on the beach.










We shelled for a few hours then headed back to Fort Myers for some drinks and music and another gorgeous sunset.


The next day we had to be out of the Airbnb early, and it was a shitty, rainy day, so we started making our way back north towards home.   We pulled into Myakka park, the park that Josh and I found last year with all of the alligators.  We had a nice little drive around there before continuing on our journey.






Since it was Josh's last night, we went to one of his favorite places near our house for dinner, LBC.  This was my short rib and cheese croissant, and yes that is fries and gravy... its one of the only places in the US where they don't look at me like I'm an alien when I ask for a side of gravy for my fries.


We had also picked up a JJ Gandys Key Lime Pie on our way home....  best Key Lime Pie ever.



Josh left that Wednesday morning, and we spent the next week just puttering around and enjoying the area.

This is this strange bird that just walks along the bottom of shallow water looking adorable.


This is my mantle that took me two years to complete.  My mom made me this awesome clock (it was one of her projects while they were visiting) and I did the rest.


We finally got another day that was warm enough to sit and have a drink by the pool so I had to show it off!


Another of our annual trips is to Anclote Key with Odyssey Cruises.  We spend about 30 minutes on the boat watching dolphins and birds and then about 45 minutes out on the Anclote Key Sand bar, shelling.  The water was cold and it was windy but we were out on one of the lowest tides that there is so we found some cool shells.




My Cardinal family was not out and about like they normally are in my yard.  I think partly because they were cuddled up in their nest because of the cold and because they had seen Miss Smudge out prowling around the yard.  They came out on our last few days so I was able to get some pictures.


The last weekend of January was a huge one for the Tampa area.  Not only was it the annual Gasparilla fest, the biggest event of the year but it also was the NHL All Star weekend.  We went down to check out the festivities for both events as they over lapped in location.  It was pretty crazy, with about half a million people taking part but we got to enjoy the Gasparilla parades and some of the All Star events.

















We parked in Ybor City, and on the way back stopped to chat with the local chickens.


These Sandhill Cranes pretty much spent the whole month at the school yard across the street from our house eating.  They are massive, almost as tall as me.



Since I won't see my parents on my birthday, I got my present early.  A gorgeous Hillberg & Berk wrap bracelet.


The day that my parents left, I went out to Fred Howard park to check out the sunset.  Pretty amazing.





This was also the night before the Super Blood Moon eclipse, and the moon rising was also insane.


It was time again to get my nails done as well, perfect for Valentines Day.



My parents and I spent one whole day near the end of their trip building our new TV console.  I am so in love with it, and again it only took me two years to pick one.


Then it was time for me to go home.... Sunset over DC.  We had such a nice time, minus the weather and I can't wait for next year!