Last night my husband and I got into the Christmas spirit.  He helped me finish decorating the house and helped me make a wonderful dinner!  After dinner we watched Christmas movies and then drove through a few neighborhoods to look at the Christmas lights.  AND to top off our wonderful Christmas evening we made warm tea and had some Christmas cookies.  It was perfect.

This morning I woke up feeling so full of “Christmas cheer” as Buddy would say from Elf and I want to “sing it loud for all to hear.”….Clearly I really like that movie. J  Last night while we were watching Elf my husband and I were discussing the best Christmas films of all time.  It was quite the discussion because there are just so many.  Here is our argued top 10 Christmas movies of all time.

10. My husband insisted that Bad Santa be on the list…there is a little disagreement here…

9. Obviously you know I am going to put Elf on my top movies list

8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas is always a good movie, either the cartoon version or with Jim Carry

7. The Santa Clause with Tim Allen was one of the most watched Christmas movies in our house when the kids were growing up

6. One of our kid’s favorites, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

5. The original Home Alone from 1990

4. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without watching A Christmas Carol

3. A Christmas Story …hands down one of the greatest movies

2. Debatably the best Christmas movie, who couldn’t love Miracle on 34th Street

1. And the best Christmas movie of all time…in our opinion J It’s a Wonderful Life

After our movie that turned into a discussion almost the entire movie, we went driving to look at lights in the neighborhood.  It was so beautiful seeing the sparkles and Christmas trees lit up.  Yet again a discussion arose on the best Christmas songs…this discussion was a little more unanimous than the movies one.  Here are our favorite Christmas songs in no particular.

  • My ULTIMATE favorite Christmas song, Carol of the Bells by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
  • The Nutcracker is the definition of Christmas, so Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is one of the greatest Christmas songs.
  • The original You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch is the epitome for all those Grinch’s out there.
  • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear is a timeless carol. “Peace on earth, goodwill to men”
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town used to bring so much excitement to my children and always kept them on their best behavior.
  • I’ll Be Home for Christmas has a new meaning to me now, my kids will be home for Christmas. J
  • I don’t know another Christmas song that combines such joyous and somber emotions into a wonderful song more than Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas…Frank Sinatra does it best.
  • Even though it is never “white” here, White Christmas, is one of the best
  • What time of year is it?  It’s the most Wonderful Time of the Year
  • Christmas would not be Christmas without…..JINGLE BELLS!

With all the Christmas spirit everywhere it is hard not to walk around with a smile painted on your face!  I am currently listening to my favorite Christmas station…there is nothing like good Christmas music.

What are your family’s favorite Christmas movies and songs?  I am deciding them will bring a friendly Christmas debate.

Until next time,




Halloween with the hubby

Happy Halloween Everyone! I hope everyone had a great Halloween weekend full of spooky and fun activities.  This weekend my husband and I laid low at home and were excited to see all little children when they came trick-or-treating.  There is something about Halloween that always brings back emotions and I miss Bobby and Clara.  I think it is because they come back for all the other holidays but Halloween.  Each year gets easier and easier with them away.

Over the weekend my husband and I just hung out around the house doing some fall cleaning.  Before the holidays officially set in, it is always good to get a good house clean out of the way.  On Saturday evening we had trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.  It is so fun seeing all the costumes of the kids and getting to chat with some neighbors that we rarely see.

We were exhausted after cleaning all day on Saturday and handing out candy, we went to bed early to get a good night’s rest.  On Sunday we picked right back up with the cleaning and finally finished everything we wanted to get done in the afternoon.  My husband wanted to go out for a late lunch and early dinner to one of the cute sandwich shops near our house.  It really hit the spot after the long day of cleaning.

Last night we started a scary movie marathon…yet again, my husband’s idea.  I like a few scary movies, but I can’t stand gruesome films.  We watched the old Halloween and the Omen last night and had to watch an episode of Friends before we went to bed so we wouldn’t have nightmares.

Now, because it is Halloween, my husband wants continue our scary movie marathon… we will see what we end up doing. J  I want to watch “happy” scary movies, like Hocus Pocus and the Nightmare before Christmas after dinner.  He hasn’t gotten home from work yet, so right now I in charge of our night!

I started making some pumpkin soup for dinner with some spooky snacks for watching the movies tonight.  It is going to be a good Halloween night watching “happy” scary movies!

I hope you had a great Halloween weekend and have a good Halloween!

Until Next Time,


Fall party décor and floral arrangements

Today the floral shop owner and I decorated and created floral arrangements for a flower themed party, yes a flower themed party.  It was so perfect, I had so much fun going overboard with all the rich fall flowers and elegant accents.

It was an outdoor dinner party in the yard of our client.  I have never done a completely outdoor party.  They were kind enough to give us the details about how they wanted the set up outside and they even took it into their own hands to set up the hay bales to pave the way to the dinner setting.

We designed several small floral pieces for the table and accented the table with mason jars with candles.  It gave off such a warm, romantic country feel.  We also used a lot of pumpkins to achieve the harvest feel of the party.  The Table and mixed matched chairs were a combination of our decorations in the store as well as our client.  It fit the parties theme so well.


To achieve the look our client wanted we worked primarily with wildflowers and more rustic looked kinds.  It was beautiful.

Here is a photo of the mason jars we created, they are super easy if you decide to have your own fall outdoor party.  Fill up the jar about 1/3 full of corn kernels and place a tea light, or battery tea light, in the middle.  To add a little pizzazz we added a simple bow with ribbon on the top.

The set up and decorations turned out so well.  I was never seen the owner of the floral shop so please with a set up.  She took so many pictures so she will be able to show potential clients what we can do in an outdoor setting.  Here is one of the photos, so beautiful.


I have grown so much in the 7 months working at the shop.  My improvement and dedication is constantly recognized by my boss and regular clients.  I love that I am able to help make people’s day better by bringing fresh flowers and decorations into their lives.  There is certain kind of happiness that a simple flower can bring to someone that is utterly incredible.

Until next time,


Romance on the beach – being over 50!

This morning my husband and I decided to spend a romantic day at the beach together.  He was feeling really romantic…or manly, and decided to rent a convertible to cruze to the beach in.  It was fun having the wind blowing through my hair and holding hands with my love.  It felt let we were fresh in love, sneaking away for a romantic day where no one would interrupt us.

When we got to the beach he swooped me out of the car and carried me to the sand; I did not know he had that in him still.  (Hopefully, my healthy eating and fitness routine made me lighter and didn’t break his back…ha)  Walking to the ocean listening to the wave’s crash in, holding his hand was so romantic.  It really is the little things that bring the butterflies back.

We walked down the beach to find a more secluded section letting each wave flow over our bare feet.  We didn’t need to say anything just walking and holding hands was the contentment I needed.

When we found a spot on the beach we laid out the blanket and just laid there all afternoon joking around and laughing.  We even made a sandcastle, I haven’t made one since the kids were little.  It was fun acting like we were kids again and letting go of society and expectation.

After the afternoon, we found this really cute seaside grill to eat dinner.  We didn’t plan to stay at the beach that long but it was well worth it, the food was incredible.  We got this delicious seafood dish to share and margaritas.  It was the perfect end to the beach day.



Cooking for two

Since my husband and I became empty nesters, a few years ago, we have really mastered cooking for two. It was really hard for me to scale down the portion sizes because I was used to cooking for a family of four AND Bobby ate like a family of four himself 🙂 …growing boys, I tell you! It has been quite the change since they children moved out and we have made a healthy eating change but I am very proud of it.

My husband and I switch off cooking whoever comes home first or wants to cook that night. I love this because I used to cook every night. We have embraced cooking for two and making healthy and delicious dishes.

Here are some of our favorite two serving’s recipes and some that even have leftovers to freeze or keep for lunch the next day.
Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Cream Sauce

• 2, 5 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
• ½ tsp. ground pepper
• ¼ tsp. salt
• 1 tbsp. canola oil
• 1 medium shallot, minced
• 1 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps
• 2 tbsp. dry white wine
• ¼ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
• 2 tbsp. heavy cream
• 2 tbsp. minced fresh chives

Post 59-NancyBell (1)

• Heat oil in a skillet and add the chicken breasts seasoned with the pepper and salt and cook until thoroughly cooked, remove and cover to keep warm.
• Add the shallot and mushrooms to the skillet and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Pour the wine in and simmer until almost evaporated. Pour in the broth and cook for about 1-2 minutes.
• Stir in the cream and chives and continue to simmer, add the chicken into the pan and turn to coat with the sauce. Enjoy!

Zesty Shrimp and Black Bean Salad- Super easy and quick

• 2 tbsp. cider vinegar
• 1 ½ tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 ½ tsp. minced chipotle Chile adobo sauce
• ½ tsp. ground cumin
• 1/8 tsp. salt
• 8 oz. peeled and deveined cooked shrimp, cut into small chunks
• ¾ cup canned black beans, rinsed
• ½ cup quartered yellow or orange cherry tomatoes
• 1 small bell pepper, chopped
• 2 tbsp. chopped scallions
• 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

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• Whisk the vinegar, oil, chipotle, cumin, and salt in a bowl. Add the shrimp, tomatoes, beans, bell pepper, scallions, and cilantro and mix. Enjoy at room temperature or serve cold. 🙂

Pork and Bok Choy Stir-Fry

• 4 oz. rice noodles
• 6 oz. pork tenderloins, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds
• 3 tbsp. water
• 2 tbsp. rice wine
• 1 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
• 1 tsp. cornstarch
• 1 ½ tsp. canola oil or peanut oil
• ½ medium onion, thinly sliced
• 8 oz. bok choy, trimmed and cut in thin long slices
• 1 ½ tsp. chopped garlic
• 1 ½ tsp. Chile-garlic sauce

Post 59-NancyBell (2)

• In a large saucepan bring water to boil and cook the noodles according to the package instructions.
• Whisk water, rice wine, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl.
• Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion for about 2-3 minutes and add bok coy and cook stirring occasionally. Add the pork, garlic, and Chile-garlic sauce and cook until the pork is thoroughly cooked.
• Add the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce is thickened and serve the pork and vegetables over the noodles. Enjoy!

Happy empty nest cooking for two!

Until next time,


Spring Party Décor

Today I had the pleasure of working a Spring Wedding Shower party with my boss. There is something about spring parties that make me feel all giddy. They say April showers bring May flowers, but we are jumping the gun a little bit and designed beautiful and unique floral arrangements. The bride-to-be was so fabulous to work with. She had a few ideas and really let us run with them to create her lovely spring party. My boss and I really thought out of the box for this party, and it definitely paid off.

I have never worked with animal products, so it was a first using antlers to accent the bright flowers. They surprising turned out really elegant and unique. She brought us a few antlers that she had gotten from a craft store and we painted them white and tied them to little vases with bright roses, daisies, and wildflowers. I would have never thought to add antlers to accent the floral arrangement, but the idea was so unique and they turned out beautiful.

She also wanted coasters for the tables and we really had no idea where to even start. We flipped through countless magazines and websites until we concocted the perfect idea. To go along with the spring and natural theme we made coasters with moss mats and cork coasters. They looked like little bunches of grass on the table. It brought in even more color and earthiness.

To direct guests to the yard with the table, we used old pieces of wood and painted arrows with white paint. We added some floral vines to the signs to really connect the rustic and earthy to the bright and lively spring. We also had big balloons with the vines wrapped around the strings. My boss comes up with the most creative ways to incorporate themes. It is slowly but surely rubbing off on me.

The Spring Wedding Shower Party was a huge success. It was earthy, rustic, yet sweet and delicate with the bright spring flowers. This might be up there with one of my favorite parties. Happy Spring Time! Hope your April showers, bring May flowers,




Tai Chi Outing

I love living in Florida, the weather is great for outdoor activities year round! This morning my tai chi instructor held class at a new park and after class, we all went out for lunch. I remember being so nervous for my first class and now look at me, I love it. I have become part of our tai chi family.

I love practicing tai chi outside. The fresh air, the earth beneath my feet, and the beautiful scenery make it so much better than practicing in an indoor studio. After a practice outside I feel rejuvenated and more directly connected with the energy of my surroundings and the world around me. Practicing in the new park today brought a new level of connection, I really enjoyed it.

After our wonderful practice, we all went to this wonderful café for an early lunch. It is amazing how close I have become to some of the women I do tai chi with. They have really become some of my best friends and have made this journey so much easier and much more fun.

Tai chi has brought so much joy into my life. Every time I practice I feel like I grow and become a better me. I never thought of myself as an active person until I took the initiative some years ago to change my life. It was tough at first but through tai chi, I have been able to excel not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.


Today made me realize how fortunate I am to have such great friend that have similar goals and values as I do. I have become an entirely new healthy person that I am so proud of. Taichi was the catalyst I needed to catapult my wellness journey.
Have you tried tai chi? I would highly suggest it to anyone who wants to strengthen their body physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Until next time,

Being Lazy and Working Out

I have been procrastinating all day so I don’t have to go for a walk or go to the gym. I am just not in the mood for a work out or interactions. I am sure everyone can relate, you just wake up on the wrong side of the bed and don’t feel like doing anything.

One of my good friends called me earlier today and I told her that I was feeling lazy and that I didn’t want to work out or go exercise. She is also going through menopause and working to create a healthy lifestyle for her husband and herself. She said she was also feeling the same way; must be something in the air today. We have a good laugh at ourselves and our complaining and procrastinating. A few minutes after hanging up the phone I received a hilarious photo text message from her… she is so funny.


After looking at the photo I really needed to get motivated, I looked at my motivation board and a few reminders that help me remember that a workout doesn’t need to be hard or dreadful, all that matters is that you go and give it our all. Here are my easy reminders that help me remember that even “lazy days” I can be healthy.

Workouts don’t need to be long or hard, but they have to be one of them. If I am short on time I give it my all for an intense workout or if I am feeling a little lazy…like today, I will go on a long walk for a slow cardio.

Workouts that incorporate strength, cardio, and mind strength are the best. Yoga and tai chi not only work out your body, but your mind and muscles as well.

Working out with friends makes it more of a social active instead of a chore. I love zumba, tai chi and walking with friends because I am interacting with people and around those that lift me higher.

• I find that setting weekly, monthly, and yearly goals makes a world of difference. I set realistic but a “scary” goals that really make me work towards goals and strive for the best.

Walking to the grocery store, walking to work, or walking to a café are all ways to get in exercise “undercover.”

• I don’t know if this is true but I always feel like when I eat healthy I don’t need to have such a strenuous workout. I see everywhere that 80% of your health is what you eat and 20% of it is exercise.

work out
So after seeing the funny photo from my friend and revisiting what gets me a little motivated, I have decided to take myself to the gym for a nice a slow cardio and a little strength training. Sometimes all it takes is a little motivation and thinking about the ultimate goal!
To the gym I go,

Christmas Outfit Shopping

Today after tai chi I decided I wanted to get something nice to wear for our Christmas dinner with the family.  I haven’t been shopping for a while and it was a good excuse to go.  I feel like finding the right outfit for Christmas is always difficult because it is still warm here and a lot of the clothing is for the season is for cooler temperatures.  It is also extra difficult because I am still having hot flashes every once in a while, and I definitely do not want to be caught in a sweater in Florida with a hot flash.  But I decided to take on the challenge and I am glad I did.

For some reason it never dawned on me that the mall would be full of people doing their Christmas shopping.  It was so packed; and when I say it was packed I mean I have never seen so many people in the mall before.  I ventured to a couple stores but I couldn’t fight the crowds.

Instead of just giving up I went to the stores around the perimeter.  The last time Clara went shopping with me we went to TJ Max and I fell in love.  It has so many options and you never know what you are going to find.  I ended up finding this really nice cranberry colored top that is flowy and looks great on me.  I also found this beautiful necklace to wear with it.

I thought I was done shopping and was pleased with what I got, but I couldn’t resist going into Kohl’s right next door.  It was pretty busy in there but not as much as the mall.  I was just browsing around and found these pants that looked so comfortable and dressy.  They looked like dress pants but they had some elastic in them that made the stretchy.  I tried them on and loved them.  So obviously I had to get them too.

While I was there I browed through the sale racks and found this very cute holiday scarf.  I don’t know if I will wear it for Christmas but it was a good deal I couldn’t pass up.  There were so many sale and clearance ranks I couldn’t manage to go through them all and as it got later in the day, more and more people started pouring in.  I got out of there at the perfect timing.


I am very happy I found an entire outfit to wear for Christmas.  I was really only looking for a shirt but found pants and a necklace, can’t complain.  Next time I go shopping around Christmas I have to remember to avoid the mall and to go early!

Until next time,


Christmas Cookie Time

Good bye turkey and thanksgiving, hello to Christmas cookies, caroling, and homemade goodies! To mark the first weekend of the wonderful Christmas season, one of my good friends had a few of us over to have a Christmas cookie bake. We used to do an annual cookie bake every year but after having kids we all had busy schedules and weren’t able to make it. But now that our children are grown we have plenty of time.


I love that my friend has us over to her wonderful home. Her husband is a chef, so they have a state of the art kitchen with two ovens perfect for baking cookies! We drink cider, listening to Christmas music, laugh, and bake all day! The part I think is ingenious is that we all make 3 different kinds of cookies in big batches then we swap them so we end up leaving with a huge assortment. It is great!
I ended up with so many cookies I can’t wait to send them to Bobby at school before his finals and to Clara and her boyfriend. Here are the three cookies that I shared with my friends!

P.S. These cookies are not the healthiest, but I figured a little treat once in a while won’t hurt.

Peppermint Bark is a staple for anything Christmas related.
• 1 cup crushed candy canes
• 2 lbs. white chocolate
• Just a few drops of peppermint flavoring
• To crush candy canes, use a candy chopper or place candy canes in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush the candy canes into small chunks.
• Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. When melted add the crushed candy cane and a few drops of peppermint flavoring and stir. (leave a little candy cane to sprinkle on the top)
• Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet and pour the mixture on to the paper. Sprinkle the left over candy cane chunks on the top and refrigerate for about 45 minutes or until firm. Remove from paper and break into delectable chunks!

Ginger Cookies are delicious year round, but even better during the holidays.

person flattening dough with rolling pin
• 2 ½ cups flour
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1 ½ tsp. ground cloves
• ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
• ½ tsp. ground ginger
• ¼ tsp. salt
• 1 cup dark brown sugar
• ¼ cup vegetable oil
• 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
• 1 egg, room temp
• 1 ¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger
• Sugar to roll the cookies in
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
• In a large bowl mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
• In an electric mixer bowl beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for about 5 minutes then turn to low. Add the egg and beat for about two minutes. Keep the mixer on low and slowly add the dry ingredient mixture and the crystallized ginger to the mixer and once combined, mix on medium for another 2 minutes.
• Scoop the dough and roll in your hands to make a 1 ¾ in ball and flatten with your fingers. Sprinkle/press the cooking in the granulated sugar on both sides and put on to the prepared baking sheet.
• Bake for 13 minutes until the cookies crack on the top and are soft on the inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for a few minutes then transfer to wire racks to fully cool. Enjoy!

And who doesn’t love Snickerdoodles
• 2 ¾ cup flour
• 2 tsp. cream of tartar
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• ¼ tsp. salt
• 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
• 1 ½ cups sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 3 tbsp. sugar
• 1 tbsp. cinnamon
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator
• In a medium bowl mix together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
• In another bowl cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy then add the eggs and vanilla and beat together well. Slowly stir in the flour mixture using an electric mixer until the flour is combined. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes.
• While chilling mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
• After chilling the dough scoop 1 inch balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar. Place the balls on the baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes.
• Let the cookies cook on the sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool. Enjoy!

Christmas is the best time of year in my opinion. The cookies, the happiness, and the loving spirit is in the air. I can’t wait to share my Christmas cookie assortment with everyone!

Happy holiday season everyone!

Until next time,