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Homemade Pretzels

I haven't made homemade pretzels since we were in Alabama and I had forgotten how easy they are if not a little time consuming. I made these last week for Oscar night. They keep a long time in an airtight container. 1   (.25 ounce) package   active dry yeast 1 tablespoons   brown sugar 1  teaspoons   salt 1 ½   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 3   cups   all-purpose flour 1   cup   bread flour 2   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 2   tablespoons   baking soda 1-2   tablespoons   butter, melted 2   tablespoons  kosher salt Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Place the yeast, brown sugar and salt in the 1.5 cups of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in the flour. Knead for about 7-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rise for an hour (I place mine in the oven with the light on). Combine the two cups of warm water with the baking soda in a square shallow pan. After the dough has risen, cut it into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each section into a

Back from the beach

We are home from our annual trip to the coast. This year we stayed at Blue Mountain Beach, close to the Destin area in Florida. Eight days of rest and relaxation! The weather, unfortunately, wasn't all that cooperative. The first half of the week was filled with clouds and some rain but the latter half was sunny and nice. To top it off, there was a beautiful full moon. Returned to find that we got over 4 inches of rain at home. That was nice!

Sunset from the balcony on the day we arrived.

Unfortunately on day 2, the clouds started rolling in - that means shopping! There is a huge outlet mall close by as well as some great gardening shops and nurseries.

The dreariness didn't keep some people off the beach!

We did enjoy seeing a storm approaching from across the ocean.

There was a bad Red Tide the week prior to our visit. As a result, dead fish littered the beach. We were glad that our balcony was spacious enough to sunbathe on because the smell on the beach was not pleasant. The beach patrol men did come through and pick them up a few days later.

One of our favorite places to go is Shady Oaks, in Panama City, a neat place to find cheap concrete statuary.

The trip in not complete without a visit to Eden Gardens State Park. This is a hidden gem that most visitors overlook because they are wrapped up in shopping, eating and staying on the beach. The former estate was once owned by a timber magnate. The house is now a museum filled with antiques. But the gardens are what we go for. Nature trails, a rose garden and thousands of camellias are the main attraction.

Spanish moss -

Ferns growing on a massive live oak -

Rock Hard Jewelry resides in a building modeled on Monet's Giverny. A garden with elaborate statuary and fountains are in the back. In fact, I'm not sure if it should even be called a garden. It is mainly a collection of objects. But it works for me!

The bridge -

The front of the building - I would love to see these roses in bloom!

Michael on the beach talking to his aunt -

Of course I'm fascinated by plants that I can't grow. One morning I took a walk up the street and took photos of the driveway landscaping.

This house was next door to us and was for sale. Asking price - 6.2 million!!

One of my favorite nurseries in the area is Eastern Lake Nursery. It is a tad pricey but the place is filled with unique pots, birdhouses and plants. As you can see, they have quite a terra cotta collection.

I noticed beautyberry (callicarpa) growing everywhere. Apparently it does well in Florida. I grow this in my own garden.

Just down the road from us is the famous little village of Seaside. It is too congested for our taste but it is fun to walk around it. The houses here are adorable and all are labeled with cutesy names.


  1. Looks like you two had a wonderful time. Great pictures makes me want to move south!! Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

  2. Phillip,
    What a wonderful blog. Your photos and descriptions were great. Will definitely hope to visit some of these sites the next time we're in Florida. So glad you decided to share your trip.

  3. I loe the photos! I agree that going to an area with different plants and flowers can peak my interest. I would love to visit that area again as well as the rest of the United States since I love the visual changes in flora as I move thru states.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Nice pictures! Looks like a great time!

  5. What a great vacation with a little bit of everything on offer. Beach, shopping, gardens - doesn't get much better than that.

    I remember reading about Seaside when it was first developed in the early '80s - I think it was supposed to be the first example of New Urbanism, as opposed to urban sprawl. So if it's crowded, no wonder!

    Don't tell me you came away from the statuary place empty-handed?? And I love the Monet-ish photo of you on the blue bridge!

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  7. Spent time in the "Redneck Riviera", huh? Isn't Destin beautiful? What a bummer the weather didn't cooperate. BTW - Beautyberry grows wild in mother's yard here in Central Florida.

  8. Really looks like you guys had a great time. The pictures are really beautiful. Thanks for taking me on you vacation with your great photos. All the best, Bob

  9. Beautiful but the green grass lawn on the beach makes me go, "Wha?!"

    Mark me down as wanting to see an extensive tour of your Christmastime house!!!

  10. Phillip, I heard you tell Chuck your house is already decorated. Show us! You can scoop everybody else. Can't wait!

  11. The Christmas photos will be coming soon - I promise!

  12. I could use a vacation so thanks for sharing yours. That looks like an interesting part of Florida, which I think is a botanical paradise.

  13. Oh my goodness, one gorgeous photo after another! I've just discovered your blog and I'll be a regular visitor. I've enjoyed myself, browsing through your gorgeous photos.


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