Annette and Dale’s Excellent European Adventure: Part 4a, Switzerland-Finally!

February 6, 2016

Annette and Dale’s Excellent European Adventure, Switzerland: Part 4a- Finally!


I am star stuck, as I “chat” with 007/James Bond,
George Lazenby, 
star of Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

Piz Gloria; Schilthorn, Mürren, Switzerland
September 2014

The time has finally arrived for my final installment (well “part a” of my final installment, anyway) of the Annette and Dale’s Excellent European Adventure series,
this one on Switzerland.  I am behind, very behind, with this, my fourth country’s installment.  My third installment having been back in June 2015! This post, and the next Switzerland post (coming to this blog soon), are of our last two Switzerland visits;
one taking place in September 2014, and the other in March 2015.

Breathtaking Switzerland in September 2014

The difference was staggering. The tans and beiges of the desert sands of
Saudi Arabia, where we were living and had left just hours before, had been replaced by the brilliant green landscape of Switzerland, below, as seen through our aircraft window.

The brilliant green landscape of Switzerland greeted us as we landed in Zurich.

My hubster, Dale, had business meetings in Zug, and I was happily tagging along. Anticipating an entire weekend ahead of us, we had made reservations in Interlaken.
With our luggage secure in our rental car, we were on our way. The Swiss scenery is always a treat for the eyes, interspursed with the occasional mountain tunnel.

Dale, navigates the Swiss roads and tunnels with ease.
Each time we now encounter a tunnel, I think of Switzerland!


One of my favorite “just off the road” spots in Switzerland,  is this picturesque lake in Lungren.



Yes, the water in Lungren really is this color!

Interlaken, at Last!

Happy to arrive at the Goldey Hotel, we were enchanted by the lovely view from our balcony. After quickly unpacking, we were off for a walk, exploring the area.


The Goldey Hotel, the brick building behind me, sits on the bank of the
River Aare.


We were delighted by the scenic view from our balcony. 

Dale and I had stopped briefly in Interlaken in 2013. We had enjoyed the breakfast buffet at The Victoria-Jungfrau’s La Terrasse, or I should say we enjoyed the bacon from the breakfast buffet. Dale and I had been more than excited, at that time in 2013,
to find American-style bacon on the beautiful buffet, and in plentiful supply.
Living in Saudi Arabia at the time, it had been months since we had tasted that
distinct bacon flavor. :o)
We  vowed that if we were lucky enough to find ourselves in the area again,
that we would explore Interlaken’s other treasures.


Immensely enjoying my bacon-based buffet (This photo was taken mid-bite.)
at The Victoria-Jungfrau’s La Terrasse in Interlaken.
August 2013

To read my Switzerland post from August 2013, click here.


Many of the “neat as a pin” Swiss houses, complete with flowers, reminded me of a cuckoo clock that my grandmother used have hanging on her wall.



This street in Interlake is busting with tourists.
The stately Victoria-Jungfrau is the tall building with the spire on the left.


Hang gliding seems to be a popular past time here, with the Jungfrau (the name of the mountain) in the background, and Victoria-Junfrau Hotel across the street.

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Dale and I enjoy dinner, with a view of the Jungfrau.  I do not remember exactly what I was eating, but I do remember that it was a delicious sandwich and had bacon in it. :o)



A model of the Piz Gloria in a store window, gives us a glance of what we will see the
next day.



The night time view from our room was magical.

Piz Gloria, but first, Breakfast

I love classic movies, with the James Bond films of 1960’s falling into this category.
One of the most intriguing locations for a Bond film is the Piz Gloria, featured in
Her Majesty’s Secret Service
(1969). Situated on Mount Schilthorn are the observation deck and revolving restaurant seen in the film.  Only about 10 miles from our hotel to the base of Mount Schithorn, Piz Gloria would be our destination for the day.
To read more about this Bond location, check out this Bond blog here.


Starting the day with a hearty breakfast at our hotel.


Hazelnuts (also known as a Filbert) were always an option at our hotel breakfast buffet.
I love them!

I enjoyed the unique decorative touches in the hotel’s common areas. 


In this blurry photo (sorry), I stand near a map which charts our course up the mountain to the Piz Gloria via the longest aerial cable system of the Alps.

If the cute red coat that I am wearing seems a bit small, it is because, not knowing about this trip earlier, I had not brought anything warm to wear with us to Saudi.
My friend, living in our compound, lent me this coat for our Swiss trip.
Thanks, Emma!


While waiting for the cable car, we were fascinated by this huge backpack, and I asked if I could take a photo.  We later surmised that these fellows were headed up the mountain to hang glide with this mega-backpack carrying all of their glide gear.

Dale and I board the gondola, complete with the James Bond musical score piped-in from overhead.



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The views going up the mountain were spectacular…
and the views at the top,gorgeous.IMG_1969In my very best 007 pose, at Piz Gloria. James Bond once walked here.
In fact, part of the completion money for the revolving restaurant and the helicopter pad here came from the making of Her Majesty’s Secret Service.


Dale and I were overwhelmed by the beauty of Switzerland’s Alps.



You would not know it to look at me, but I am a little fearful of high places…


…but I eventually got used to the heights and took in the majesty of the landscape below.

Evidence of the James Bond legacy was everywhere, from the museum exhibit here, complete with vintage movie posters, to the the 007 emblem decorating the restaurant windows,
to the Wi-fi internet code of 007.  :o)


The revolving restaurant was such a treat


Piz Gloria had lived up to its reputation as amazing! After our lunch, it was time for us to take the trip back down mountain.  Dale and I decided to explore the second stop from the top; the small village of Mürren. There are no cars allowed here, except for essential personnel, making it is a great place to walk around.


On our way back down the mountain was this quaint little village of Mürren.


I was feeling the need for outerwear that would actually fit me. I struck out at the overpriced gift shop at the Piz Gloria.   Mürren was happy contrast, with a reasonably priced shop. I  bought this warm and furry Swiss jacket.


Dale and I relaxed as we sat on park benches, enjoying Mürren’s tranquil view.


The tranquility did not last long.  We soon came to the uneasy realization that this “park” also served as Mürren’s heliport! We, along with others sitting and relaxing in the area, soon found ourselves overwhelmed by hurricane-like winds, thanks to this helicopter landing just feet away from us!  We all held on to our hats (literally) while clinging to our packages in utter dismay!


We stop for tea, where we chatted with some fellow Americans, at one Mürren’s hotel cafes, before heading back down to the bottom.

To read another blogger’s Mürren experience, click here.


A side trip on our way home, took us to Trummelbach-Falle, a maze of ten waterfalls.



My fear of heights reared its ugly head once again this day.

To read more about Trummelbach-Falle click here and here.


On our trip back to Interlaken, we were surprised to see colorfully decorated cows.  The cows had been part of a cow parade earlier that day. Having spent the warmer summer months in the Alps,the cows were brought down to the mountain to spend the winter months.

To read more about this tradition, click here and here.IMG_3215


Bossy does not look all too happy about her new headpiece!

A fun cow fact for ya-Did you know that the some Swiss have cow washes for their cows?

See and read about cow washes here.

Our Final Look Around Interlaken


This cute chef sign caught my eye.


I snapped this photo of a granny on her moped, as we waited for the train to pass by.
The bicycle rider uses this time for a little snack.

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A few sights on our final walk around town.



Zug was our ultimate destination in Switzerland.  Zug is a beautiful small town on
Lake Zug. Dale had business in Zug for a few days. My friend, Lyn, who was currently living in Zug, offered to show me around Zug one day, and Lucerne the another.

photo 3

Lyn brought me to this cute restaurant with a view Lake Zug.


The view was beautiful and the food delicious.


This photo was taken just outside of the restaurant.


The Clocktower is an iconic symbol of Zug.


I stand on a cobblestone street of Zug.

To read another blogger’s perspective of Zug, click here.


I adore the Swiss city of Lucerne.  Lyn kindly offered to take me the 20 miles from Zug to Lucerne for an informal rooftop lunch, and a little sightseeing.  It was a fun day.



Lyn and I enjoyed the sunshine and views of Lucerne during our lunch.


An interior view of the Jesuit Church.

Click here for more information on the church.


A view of the Jesuit Church (left) from the Chapel Bridge.

To read more about the Chapel Bridge, click here.


Lyn looks out from Chapel Bridge onto the River Reuss.




Lyn showed me The Lion Monument of Lucerne before our trip back to Zug.

To read more about The Lion Monument, click here.

Thanks for reading!


I attempt to post my blog bi-monthly. Stay tuned for part 4b of Annette and Dale’s Excellent European Adventures. My next post will be on, or around, February 28.

Thank you to all of my blog followers!!!
To become an “I’m Annette” blog follower, and receive “I’m Annette”via email,
FREE, immediately upon my postings.
Sign up on the right-hand side of this page, or click here.

Happy Birthday, Spencer!


Is that Heidi?  No, I’m Annette!  :o)

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One Wedding and a Whale of a Snowstorm

January 27, 2016


I enjoy a calm morning stroll on the beach.
Pompano Beach, Florida
January 21, 2016

Heading to the Wedding

It would be a happy weekend!  Early Wednesday morning, we (my hubby, two sons, daughter-inlaw, and grand baby) boarded a plane in Maryland. We were off to Florida, for my first born, Trevor, and his finance’s, January 22nd wedding.


I happily head to Florida for my son’s wedding. What am I laughing at?                               My sweet 22 month old grand daughter is siting on my lap, just outside of this photo. :o)

                                                                 January 20, 2016


Through the miracle of air travel, (Thank you Wilbur and Orville Wright!),we were gazing down at Pompano Beach from our hotel room in just a few hours.


The ocean view from our hotel room in Pompano Beach.


Our “home” for the next few days, nestled between the coconut palms.
The Residence Inn
Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach/Oceanfront

The Whale’s Rib

Clothes were quickly unpacked, as we anticipated lunch!  We met Trevor, the groom to be, at one of my favorite restaurants in this area, The Whale’s Rib, in nearby Deerfield Beach.
First introduced to me by Trevor, several years ago, this unpretentious seafood haven
serves great food at reasonable prices, and has the stamp of approval from
Diners, Drive-ins, and Dive’sGuy Fieri.


The Whale’s Rib in Deerfield Beach

When planning Trevor and Tanya’s rehearsal dinner, it was here that I first inquired.  It became clear rather quickly, however, that they did not have the kind of space that was needed to accommodate our group. So, instead, we would visit here twice while in town, sharing its ambiance with some of our relatives who were in town.


The Whale’s Rib is renowned for its Whale Fries served with Whale Juice,
a mayonnaise-based sauce.

We enjoyed eating at The Whale’s Rib, two times while in town. Always delicious and fun! 

Dining at The Whale’s Rib on our first day in town.
January 20, 2016

Dining at The Whale’s Rib, the day after the wedding.
Our group group grew in number from our first visit!
January 23, 2016

The Rehearsal Dinner
January 21, 2016

As parents of the groom, Dale and I had the honor of hosting the rehearsal dinner, immediately after Thursday’s wedding rehearsal.  We decided on an informal dinner at the same location as the rehearsal.The wedding would also take place here the next day, at Galuppi’s.
On a golf course, Galuppi’s setting is pictuesque.


A sunset view from the Galuppi’s back patio.

The rehearsal dinner was an enjoyable time, and we even had an enthusiastic game for the bride and groom.

Trevor and Tanya play a light-hearted game of “Who Will” during the rehearsal dinner.

The Wedding
January 22, 2016

Friday greeted us with rainy skies, but that did not dampen our spirits for the impending nuptials. Although, the wedding was slated to take place on Galuppi’s outdoor patio,
an alternative location was available in the reception area, if needed.


Our daughter, Martese, served as officiant for the wedding.
45 minutes prior to the wedding, we were still hopeful that the rain would subside.


Tanya’s handsome son waits for the wedding to begin.

It was wedding time and the rain continued to fall.  It would be an indoor wedding.
The wedding was beautiful!



Trevor and Tanya say their vows.


Trevor and Tanya kiss as husband and wife.
Tanya is a lovely bride.

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Trevor and I do our Mother/Son Dance to “Singing’ in the Rain“.


The pretty wedding cake was delicious.


The evening was spent celebrating on the dance floor.

Homeward Bound?With the honeymoon couple on their way to Colorado on Saturday, we turned our thoughts toward heading home.  Our Baltimore son and family were to originally fly out on Saturday, but with a mega winter snowstorm in that area, on Friday they rescheduled their flights for Sunday.  My hubby, son, and I were also scheduled to fly out on Sunday.  We all got the word on Saturday that all Saturday and Sunday flights had been cancelled.  Rescheduling, we found, would not be an option until Tuesday,
or Wednesday.  With that in mind, we all decided to drive the 15+ hours home in our rental car.


Newlyweds Tanya and Trevor enjoy the slopes on their honeymoon.

We pointed our car north, as our trek began at 3:30 am on Sunday morning.  Yawn.
Travel was relatively uneventful for the first several hours, with sparse traffic on
Highway 95. Baby girl was a travel champ, spending part of the travel time watching
Kid Songs on dvd. The highlight of the first part of our trip was having lunch in
North Carolina at Zaxby’s.


There are no Zaxby’s in Maryland, so we were happy to find this one just off the highway in Lumberton, North Carolina.

We continued to travel north. Through the photo (below) texted by our friend, Abe, and neighbors’ Facebook photos, we anticipated the snowdrifts that awaited us, with a bit of trepidation.


We were thankful to our good friend, Abe, for checking on our place,
and sending us this photo of our house on Sunday.

It became apparent about two hours south of Washington DC, that the landscape “was a changin‘”.  Large piles of snow began to envelope us from both sides of the road, and the number of snow plows began to largely outnumber the “civilian” vehicles on the road. It was eerie, as we carefully made our way on the newly, barely, somewhat, plowed highway.

 The Washington Memorial, and scaffolded National Capitol shone to our left, over an uncustomarily silent Washington DC.  It was at this time that it became sadly apparent, to some of our car’s occupants (having passed two unplowed rest areas) that the time had arrived for “resting”. As treacherous as it was to veer off the highway, it was now more treacherous not to!  As we made our way to a small unkept gas station, in a not so great part of town, a large sign made it clear that they had no public facilities.  Desperate times call for desperate measures. (Use your imagination.)  It was not long before we were more comfortably back on the road, marveling at the mountains of snow all around us as we went. It was then, after a total of 18 hours, we were finally home! Parking in our  neighbor’s shoveled driveway, we trudged through the snow and into our house, deposited in a giant snow cone machine. We said a quick prayer of thanks. We had made it home safely, after a wonderful wedding. :o)


Our back deck piled with snow, upon walking into our house after 18 hours on the road.

Thanks for reading!


I attempt to post my blog bi-monthly. Look for my next post on, or around, February 15.

Thank you to all of my blog followers!!!
If you are not yet currently getting my blogs via email,
I’d love for you to do so!

To become an “I’m Annette” blog follower, and receive “I’m Annette”via email,
FREE, immediately upon my postings.
Sign up on the right-hand side of this page, or click here.


Trevor, our oldest at around age 1.5 years, with my husband and myself in 1986.
Time flies!

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Procrastination and Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2015

Procrastination and Merry Christmas!

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 8.14.50 PM

I pose for a quick photo with this handsome nutcracker at our local
Nordstrom’s Department Store.

Merry Christmas! Like you, I have a million and one things to do before this December 25th, but procrastination has set in. Apparently lacking in the discipline to complete these chores in an orderly manner, I will instead, happily chat with you for a minute. Pour yourself a cup of hot tea and relax with me for a bit.

                                            How I Spent My Day Today

Yes, I had more than enough to do today, but…
I love classic movies!  Add Christmas to a classic movie and I am filled with extreme happy holiday cheer! Today I had my chance to experience super duper EHHC (extreme happy holiday cheer)! Turner Classic Movies was offering the showing of ” Miracle on 34th Street” on the big screen! :o)

Photo Feb 08, 10 06 13

I am all smiles as I stand near the swoon-worthy Clark Gable’s
hand and foot prints, star of classic movies.
Grumman’s Chinese Theatre
February 2015
To see more of this trip, click here.

Today, the Sunday before Christmas, instead of wrapping gifts in Martha Stewart fashion, or baking goodies of unspeakable yumminess, I instead braved my local mall/theatre parking lot. (It was packed!) Entering the theatre’s body-filled lobby, I encountered loads of “Star Wars” enthusiasts.  (They were there to view the just released and newest, of the”Star Wars” films.) As I brushed past two young men dressed in full “Star Wars” costume attire, I made my way to a less hectic, Theatre # 8.

The email invitation that I received about this event.

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Interesting “Miracle on 34th Street” trivia about the stars of the film, Natalie Wood, Maureen O’Hara, and Edmund Gwenn, came across the screen before the show.  


What a joy it was to sit back and relax (procrastinate a bit?), and enjoy this perennial Christmas classic.  It never disappoints. I left with a big smile on my face!

To read my past Christmas blogs click here and here.

To read about some other TCM large screen showings that I have attended, click here and here.

Time for me to get back to all of the fun preparations for this wonderful and joyous Christmas Season. Christmas is almost here.  :o)

Merry Christmas and thanks for reading!


I attempt to post my blog bi-monthly, but my son is getting married next month :o),so … Look for my January post on, or around, January 28.

Thank you to all of my faithful blog followers!!!
If you are not currently getting my blogs via email,
I’d love for you to do so!


To become an “I’m Annette” blog follower, and receive “I’m Annette”
via email, FREE, immediately upon my postings.
Sign up on the right-hand side of this page, or this on my link, click here.

My vintage styrofoam Santa wishes you a Merry Christmas!

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Is Thanksgiving Over Already?!

November 30, 2015

Is Thanksgiving Over Already?!


My son and I admire our “Thanksgiving turkey”, post-assembly.
November 2, 2015

Is it really possible that Thanksgiving is already over, and today is the final day of November?   I am hoping that your Thanksgiving weekend was  enjoyable and happy.  Mine was.:o)
(Overseas friends, not familiar with Thanksgiving, can read about this very American holiday, here.)
Please follow my Thanksgiving 2015 from preparations through the celebration, via the photo album below.

Decorating for the Big Day


Turkeys and Mr. Pilgrim for Thanksgiving.
Our entryway table changes with the season.

For the free center Thanksgiving printable, click here.
For the free turkey background printable, click here.


Chandler, my youngest son, performs the taxing task of assembling our November front-step decor, and then relaxes with Kali afterwards.


Thursday, Thanksgiving Day


Watching the Thanksgiving Parade is tradition at our house on Thanksgiving morning, as dinner preparations take place.


My youngest and eldest enjoy another family tradition;
beginning our Thanksgiving morning with
Monkey Bread and  Christmas Bacon and Eggs Casserole.

For the Monkey Bread and the Christmas Bacon and Eggs Casserole
recipes click here .


My hubby, with help from his assistants, grilled one turkey (my personal favorite), and fried another. Both were delicious!

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We enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner with our three sons, daughter in-law and grand daughter.
(Our daughter was celebrating with her husband’s family in Minnesota this year.)

My Thanksgiving  Menu

A big part of Thanksgiving is the food.  Preparing the feast is a labor of love for my family.  (The clean up after that dinner, not so much.  ha)
My Thanksgiving menu remains pretty much the same each year.
In fact, it is also basically the same for our Christmas dinner, too,
except I change out the pumpkin pie for Hershey Mint Dessert.
I like to keep it informal and buffet style.

Annette’s Thanksgiving Menu

Rotisserie and Fried Turkey
(Dale’s job)

Midwestern Dressing
(I make first thing in the morning and put in crockpot on low, lined with parchment paper, and sprayed with PAM.)
(My favorite thing on the menu!)

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
( I make these both ahead and put in crockpots on low-the potatoes in a parchment lined one and sprayed with PAM, and gravy in a heated gravy boat crock.)
Still not 100% thrilled with mashed potatoes kept hot this way.)

Green Bean Casserole
(Made day before, minus the french fried onions.)

Sweet Potato Casserole
(Made day before.)

(Made two days before.)

Recipe for cranberries is below.

Orange Jello Salad
(Made day before.)

Chilled Black/Ripe Olives

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
Place on parchment paper and keep checking while in the oven.
The baking time is usually much less than is indicated on the package.
(Done at the last minute, but I delegate this to someone else.)


Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream
(Hershey Mint Dessert for Christmas, instead.)

(I make the fresh pumpkin two days before, and the pie the day before.)

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
(I make one, or two, days ahead.)

I make all, or some of these each Thanksgiving and Christmas,
including my favorite dessert item,

Dark Chocolate Peanut Clusters
(Made and frozen two days, or more, ahead.)
For the recipe for the Dark Chocolate Peanut Clusters, click here.

Thanksgiving/Christmas Trash
For the recipe for Thanksgiving Trash, click here.

Belly Buttons

Cranberry & Pistachio Snowfall Almond Bark

Louisiana Trash


Chilled Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider

I would love for you to share with me and the other readers
(in the comment section at the bottom of this post)
about your own Thanksgiving menu.
What items are a necessary Thanksgiving must for you and your family?

Thanksgiving Weekend


Taking a Friday stroll. The Maryland weather was beautiful!


Watching the Ohio State-Michigan Football Game on Saturday is a Thanksgiving week-end MUST from way back,
since I began dating Dale in 1977, in fact.

Making Homemade Cranberry Sauce


A couple of days before Thanksgiving, I put on a Thanksgiving DVD like this episode of The Brady Bunch: The Un-Underground Movie, and begin cooking.  I often begin with preparing the cranberries.


I always begin with a bag of fresh Ocean Spray cranberries.


Rinse and remove the soft ones.


The cranberries just out of the oven.

The Recipe

Fresh Candied Cranberries

My mother-in-law gave me this recipe many years ago.




12 oz. pkg. of fresh cranberries

1+3/4 cups + 2 Tbsp. of sugar



  • Lightly butter a shallow casserole, preferably one with a lid.
  • Rinse cranberries, remove soft ones, and spread berries in casserole.
  • Sprinkle with sugar.
  • Let stand for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cover with lid, or aluminum foil, if you have no lid.
  • Bake berries 35-50 minutes, uncovering and stirring occasionally, until sauce is clear.
  • Remove from oven and cool.
  • Chill.
  • This will keep for one week in the refrigerator, and freezes pretty well.

Makes about 3 cups


It is now onward to Christmas!
Let the watching of Christmas movies begin!
(For Christmas movie suggestions click here and here.

To read my past Thanksgiving posts that include movie recommendations, and recipes, click here and here.

Thanks so much for reading ! :o)


I attempt to post my blog bi-monthly, but with the holidays approaching, … Look for my December post on, or around, December 18, maybe.

A giant thank you to all of my faithful blog followers!!!
If you are not currently getting my blogs via email, I’d love for you to do so!


Become an “I’m Annette” blog follower, and receive “I’m Annette” via email, FREE, immediately upon my postings.
Sign up on the right-hand side of this page, or this on my link, click here.


Good Golly, this canvas, makes me smile. :o)
I purchased it in England earlier this year.
It was created by a local artisan there,
and was hanging on a restaurant wall for sale.
Buying it was the easy part,
shipping it home…

To read about that England trip, click here.


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Eating Around Walt Disney World: The Walt Disney World Food and Wine Festival

November 18, 2015

Eating Around Walt Disney World:
The Walt Disney World Food and Wine Festival


Enjoying Cinderella Time at Cinderella’s Disney World Castle

 Pictured: Mike (Martese’s husband), Martese, Cinderella, Me (complete with my Cath Kidston fanny pack), and Natasha.

It was the weekend of The Walt Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon. My daughter, Martese, and her friend Natasha, having met during their stint as Disney college interns in 2010, were participating in the November 7th race. To add to the festivities, November 6th marked Martese’s 25th birthday. I was along for the fun “ride”. :o)

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Natasha surprised Martese, when she arrived, with birthday decorations in her hotel room, complete with Disney Pop Century Resort‘s colorful and tasty Tye Dye Cheesecake (pictured below).IMG_8544

The Magic Kingdom

We happily skipped through our first day, enjoying the Magic Kingdom.  In-between all of the smile inducing Disney World rides and entertainment, Martese, our own personal Disney Travel Agent, had made reservations for our eating pleasure. We ate well this trip!


Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious!  
Martese indulging in a Grey Stuff Cupcake at Beauty and the Beast’s pretty Be Our Guest Restaurant


Martese and Mike relax on the
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.


Mike sips on a cool lemonade in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom.



In addition to having Disney royalty ( several of the Disney princesses) visit our table,  we were treated to culinary treats at
Cinderella’s Royal Table.


When we entered the castle at dusk for dinner,
it looked like the above photo.
We were in awe of the magnificent lights that adorned the castle, as we exited from dinner (below photo).


By day two, my hubby, Dale, had joined us,
and we were about to embark on the Holy Grail of Disney dining,
the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival!

Our day began with a strawberry Pop-Tart Breakfast Sandwich

at the Pop Century Resort’s cafeteria. It was quite good!

The entrance of Epcot announced that good things were in store!


We arrived early in the day to begin sampling the many treats.
The lines became much longer as the day wore on.

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Martese and I had made our “taste lists” ahead of time,
so that we knew just what we wanted to tackle.
We would buy an item of choice and then we would all sample it.

Martese’s first item was this offering from Hawaii,
Pork Sliders with Pineapple Chutney.
She loved it. I thought it was just okay.

I had been longing for the always epic, Dole Whip,
and they were available at Epcot this day,
along with another treat, a cronut.
I was anxious to try this cross between a croissant and a doughnut.
It did not disappoint.
It reminded all of us of my recipe for Biscuit Doughnuts, here.

Canada’s offerings were next on our list,
and were a big hit with all of us!
The Cheddar Cheese Soup and Wild Mushroom Beef Filet were two of the best offerings of the day!


Dale wishes our “little girl” a Happy Birthday, as we strolled through Epcot’s World Showcase.

IMG_8688Mike sipping on a cool Frozen S’more on this hot Florida afternoon.

IMG_8690France offered Crème brûlée and Croissant aux escargots.

Both were good, but the croissants were a bit heavy on the garlic,
and I have yet to find anyone in the world who can beat the delicious creme brûlée served at our hometown restaurant, Johnny’s Bistro!

IMG_8693Natasha enjoying her Belgium Waffle with chocolate sauce and whipped cream from where else? Belgium.

IMG_8696The Lobster Rolls were done just right in the America area of Epcot.

Australia’s Shrimp on the Barbie was done to perfection.
I devoured them so quickly that I forgot to snap a photo.
 I did, however, purchase a cookbook with a photo of this epicurean treat.

As the day grew longer, so did the lines. There were a couple items on our list that we left untasted. Thanks to my trusty cookbook, I can still test them out, if the urge strikes.  Also,on Pinterest there are many of these recipes.
To follow my Disney Recipes and Food category, click here.

To read about all of 2015’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival offerings,  click here.

Birthday Dinner on The Boardwalk

After a full day at Epcot, we all looked forward to our dinner at
The Flying Fish on The Boardwalk.
This was Martese’s birthday, and we were celebrating in style.

IMG_8717We all relax by the water, as we wait for our reservation time.

IMG_0162The Flying Fish beckons hungry diners.

IMG_8718All relaxed and enjoying our dinner.

IMG_8723We declined dessert at The Flying Fish, so that we could partake in  scrumptious Mickey bars back at the hotel.
Happy Birthday, Martese!

Hollywood Studios

By our third day, our numbers had grown by three more!  Our eldest son, Trevor, and his family drove up from southern Florida to join us.  :o)

IMG_8727The youngest in our group enjoys a breakfast muffin at
Starring Rolls Cafe. 

IMG_0176IMG_8741Lunching at Pizza Planet.


I rode my favorite Walt Disney World ride, The Great Movie Ride, twice , and spotted Annette Funicello’s handprints.

IMG_0014Dale and I “drive” a classic car to my favorite WDW restaurant,
The Sci-Fi Cafe.

IMG_8775Are Trevor and Tanya discussing the hidden meaning
behind this Sci- fi movie clip?

IMG_8776All ready for some Sci-Fi Cafe food and fun.

IMG_8784Hollywood Studio’s amazing The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights features over 5 million Christmas lights.
This is the last year for this spectacular display.

IMG_8800Trevor poses in front of a really big Big Wheel at the Pop Century Resort.
I remember when a Big Wheel was once Trevor’s favorite mode of transportation!  :o) 

IMG_0006Chefs, Chip and Dale, pose with half-marathoners Natasha and Martese before their race.

Magic Kingdom One Last Time (for this trip)

IMG_8818 (1)We are anxious for the Pooh Character Breakfast at the Crystal Palace.

IMG_8829 (1)The wonderful thing about Tiggers…

IMG_0108Winnie the Pooh pauses for a selfie with Mike.

IMG_8828Always delicious, Mickey waffles are the star on this brunch plate,
along with
yummy Pooh’s Puffed French Toast, bacon, potatoes, fresh fruit,
and a refreshing iced tea.

IMG_8797Signing off

Check Out Some of My Other Disney Related Blog Posts

My 2015 Girls’ Weekend at Disneyland, click here.

My 2014 Family Walt Disney World Vacation, click here.

Cooking a Vintage Italian Disney World Dish, click here.

Thanks so much for reading and have a magical day! :o)


I attempt to post my blog bi-monthly, but with the holidays approaching, I will be on a once per month mode.  Look for my next post on, or around, December 10.

A giant thank you to all of my faithful blog followers!!!
If you are not currently getting my blogs via email, I’d love for you to do so!


Become an “I’m Annette” blog follower, and receive “I’m Annette” via email, FREE, immediately upon my postings.
Sign up on the right-hand side of this page, or this on my link, click here.

Planning a Disney Vacation?


Our Daughter, Martese, is a Magic Maker® for Off to Neverland Travel. She is very Disney knowledgeable and an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner for any of the Disney destinations, and Disney vacation locations.
Martese’s vacation planning services are totally FREE!!!

Contact Martese to assist in your next Disney vacation.
Website:, or click here.
Facebook:, or click here.

This Mickey cookie cutter made the trip home with me.  :o)





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Time to make some Caramel Corn!

October 28, 2015

Time to make some Caramel Corn!

Originally posted on July 31, 2013,
and also attempted to include this in the October 28, 2015 post, Dracula.


2-3 qts. popped popcorn
(That is a bit less than a popper full of what my popcorn popper makes)
1 clean large brown paper bag (if you do not have one, a large heat resistant bowl will do)
Set aside.

In large glass bowl put:
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
¼ cup white corn syrup
¼ tsp. salt

Microwave these four ingredients for four minutes, or until
it comes to a boil.

Add and stir:
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

*Pour this liquid over the popped popcorn
in large brown paper bag.

Stir and Shake.

Cook 1 and ½ minutes on high in microwave.
Remove bag from microwave and shake well.
Cook 1 minute longer.

Wait a few minutes to eat, as it is hot. Enjoy!

*Gilding the Lily-Add 12 oz. can of Redskin Spanish peanuts to popcorn, prior to pouring
liquid over.

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October 28, 2015


With popcorn in hand, I happily anticipate the start of Dracula.

I am a fan of the Turner Classic Movie Channel. Airing uninterrupted older films, it serves up true entertainment for the classic movie fan in me. I am especially fond of the array of comedies and romantic comedies shown on their channel, and appreciate the sincere effort that this station has made toward preserving our movie heritage. Occasionally, TCM sponsors the showing of a movie gem on the big screen. This October, Turner Classic Movies presented the original 1931, Dracula, starring Bella Lugosi, by Universal Pictures.

IMG_8398My email “invitation” to Dracula.

Although, not my most favorite genre, this movie feature intrigued me.  I had never seen Dracula, and the opportunity to view this original on the big screen, and near Halloween, seemed too good to miss. I talked my youngest (age 21) into joining me, and we were off to the movies.

It was a rainy, gloomy afternoon, the perfect setting for our film. 

When we arrived, the pre-film trivia had begun…to an empty theatre.
Three other movie fans eventually arrived before movie time.


My son, Chandler, enjoys some movie popcorn while reading the pre-movie Dracula trivia, up on the screen.

The answer to this trivia question is A-Bela Lugosi.

Dracula is introduced by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz.

The movie credits began to roll.  Is that a Batman
logo that I see behind Dracula?!

Lugosi steals the show in this true horror classic.

Fun Fact for ya-Bela Lugosi was buried in a Dracula cape.
To read more about Bela Lugosi, click here.

Dracula was entertaining, interesting, classy and scary, but a not in-your-face,
gory type of scary.
It was a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon.

To read about when I attended TCM’s big screen showing of The Wizard of Oz, click here and Christmas in Connecticut, click here.

Happy Halloween!


In honor of Halloween and the movies, why not make a batch of this yummy caramel corn? It is so good that it is SCARY.  :O)
Click here, for the recipe.

Thanks so much for reading. :o)


I attempt to post my blog bi-monthly. Look for my next post around November 20.

A big thank you to all of my faithful blog followers!!!
I apologize, followers, for sending you the “Dracula” blog in progress, earlier today, the result of accidentally hitting publish, instead of save draft.

If you are not currently getting my blogs via email, I’d love for you to do so!
PLEASE, join my blog following for Free!!!
Sign up on the right-hand side of this page, or go here.

My kiddies all dressed up to trick or treat in 1995.

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Updated Minnesota Wild Rice Soup with ingredient that I forgot to type the first time!


Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

1/2 cup wild rice, uncooked
32 oz. box of chicken broth, or chicken stock
2-3 chicken boullion cubes
1 whole, peeled onion
1/4-1/3 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced-optional
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp. white pepper, ground, or black pepper
1 1/2 qt. skim milk
2.25 oz. almonds, slivered
1/2-1 pound ham, cooked and diced

Combine wild rice, chicken broth, bullion cubes, whole onion, diced carrots and if desired, diced celery.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 35 minutes, or until rice is tender. Melt butter. Combine flour and pepper; add to melted butter to make a roux.
Add half of the milk to the roux. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Add the remaining milk, and the rice/vegetable mixture to the thickened milk.
Continue cooking, stirring constantly. Add the slivered almonds and diced ham.
Continue cooking until the starch flavor is gone and flavors have blended.
Remove onion, if desired.

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Minnesota Nice

Minnesota Nice

October 1, 2015


I stand beneath the massive sculpture, MOLECULE, by Mark Di Suvero,
at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Residents of Minnesota have a reputation for being nice, Minnesota Nice. Throughout a week visit with our daughter and her husband, Dale and I experienced much of the “nice” that the Minneapolis area has to offer. Not only did its residents radiate niceness, but we found plenty of “nice” things to see and do in the area, particularly eating at the array of regional restaurants. Among popular local items on Minneapolis menus are: Walleye, caught in the Minnesota lakes, Juicy Lucy Hamburgers, originating in Minneapolis, and Cheese Curds, from nearby Wisconsin.  All of these tastes of Minnesota, and more, left a “wonderful taste in our mouths”. :o)

A Few of Our Many Delicious Meals

Mike and Martese, our daughter and her husband,
eating at Big Bowl Chinese and Thai Restaurant.

IMG_7590 IMG_7594
Dale, Martese and I enjoy a beautiful evening at
McCormick’s Pub & Restaurant in cute Wayzata.
The BLT was delicious!

A stroll along Lake Minnetonka, after our McCormick’s dinner, allowed us  room for dessert, a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cone. :o)

Good company and good food, lunching by Lake Minnetonka,
with our son-in-law’s family, at scrumptious Lord Fletcher’s .

This cute vintage display greets visitors to The General Store Cafe and Bistro.

Delicious and ginormous popovers, with honey butter,
are a General Store Cafe specialty.

 I bought this bag of Minnesota Wild Rice from the General Store,
next to the cafe,. (See the recipe that I use it in, below.)


 The Galaxy Drive-in was a fun place for a milkshake.
I even ran into Elvis there!




We paid a visit to the 5-8 Club, once a speakeasy,
and home of the original Juicy Lucy (a cheese-stuffed hamburger).
I happily devoured my burger, along with the Deep Fried Cheese Curds appetizer that we three shared.

 To read about the 5-8 Club’s history, click here.

Walking Along

With all of the yummilicious food that Dale and I ate on our Minnesota visit, some exercise was definitely required!  We chose to walk, and there were plenty of venues to do so.


Even at the age of 13, Jax still loves going on walks,
and joined us on several during our Minnesota stay.
Jax, was our family dog for over ten years.
When Dale and I left for overseas in 2013,

Jax got a new home with, then newlyweds, Martese and Mike.

Dale and I, and Jax, spotted swans and a muskrat (I think) on our walk in a pretty little park near our daughter’s home.

While taking a leisurely walk by Lake Minnetonka, we discovered the
Great Northern Depot and it’s fun Garden Wayzata Model Railroad that was operating that day!

For a glimpse of this model railroad on the move, click here.

Dale and Martese look around the historic Minnehaha Railroad Depot, nicknamed the Princess Station for its gingerbread trim.

To read more in-depth, and view some great photos, of this piece of history, click here.


We all enjoyed the beauty of Minnehaha Falls.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem,
The Song of Hiawatha,
refers to Minnehaha Falls. 

Hear a roaring and a rushing,
Hear the Falls of Minnehaha
Calling to me from a distance!

Interestingly enough,
Longfellow never actually visited the falls.
To read the complete poem, click here.

Culture, Entertainment, Family and Friends

Minneapolis is a pretty city filled with many wonderful restaurants, as mentioned above, cultural exhibits, and entertainment. We enjoyed these, plus enjoyed time spent with family and friends.


by Oldenburg and Van Bruggen, is the centerpiece of the Walker Art Center’s Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. This smile-inducing, oversized kitchen utensil, complete with a cherry on top, has become a Minneapolis icon.
In warmer weather, the artwork also serves as a mist fountain.


Martese and I were excited to be out for an evening of dinner and the theatre. Downtown’s Smack Shack served delicious seafood meals of
Lobster Roll and Shrimp Po’ Boy.

The humble beginnings of this trendy Minneapolis hot spot began several years ago in a food truck. 

It has since evolved into this popular eatery, even gaining notoriety by being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.



A short drive from the restaurant, The Orpheum Theatre’s, bright lights proclaim the title of our show, Rogers and Hammerstein’s, Cinderella.

The Orpheum Theatre was once owned by singer/song writer,
Bob Dylan, who grew up in Minnesota and attended Minneapolis’s
University of Minnesota for a time.
Dylan rescued the old theatre building from ruins, and after nine years,
he sold the theatre to the City of Minneapolis.

For an interesting article about Dylan’s tenure as owner of the Orpheum, click here.

One of my favorites as a child, was the annual showing of
Rogers and Hammerstein’s, Cinderella, staring Leslie Ann Warren.
Later, as a mother, I watched it with Martese on video tape.
I recently bought this musical on DVD.



Seeing the performance of Cinderella with Martese was extra special .

An evening of playing Settlers of Catan with “the kids”
and their fun friends.
I did not win.  :o(


A special treat, while in Minnesota, was a reunion with
my former pen pal and friend, Caralee. Through the miracle of Facebook,
we found each other a few years ago, after losing touch for many years.
We discovered that Caralee lived only a few miles from my daughter,
so, when in Minnesota this trip, we met up at a local Panera.
Although, it had been over 40 years, since we had last seen each other, it was
great to find that Carolee was still as sweet as I had remembered her! 

To read a blog post about my earlier visit to Minneapolis, please click here.


This Minnesota Wild Rice Soup recipe has been a family favorite for years. The original recipe was in an Iowa State Alumni magazine, The Iowa Stater, in May 2000, listing  several residence dining hall recipes, requested by alum. Wild rice, a key ingredient, is often difficult to locate in Maryland,  but thanks to the bag purchased at the Minnesota General Store, I was able to make this tasty soup as soon as I got back home.

Over the years, I have tweaked this recipe, to fit my family’s taste.
For the original recipe and more ISU residence dining hall favorites, click here.
Thank you to The Iowa Stater for permission to use this recipe!


Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

1/2 cup wild rice, uncooked
32 oz. box of chicken broth, or chicken stock
2-3 chicken boullion cubes
1 whole, peeled onion
1/4-1/3 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced-optional
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp. white pepper, ground, or black pepper
1 1/2 qt. skim milk
2.25 oz. almonds, slivered
1/2-1 pound ham, cooked and diced

Combine wild rice, chicken broth, bullion cubes, whole onion, diced carrots and if desired, diced celery.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 35 minutes, or until rice is tender. Melt butter. Combine flour and pepper; add to melted butter to make a roux.
Add half of the milk to the roux. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Add the remaining milk, and the rice/vegetable mixture to the thickened milk.
Continue cooking, stirring constantly. Add the slivered almonds and diced ham.
Continue cooking until the starch flavor is gone and flavors have blended.
Remove onion, if desired.

Thanks so much for reading. :o)


I attempt to post my blog bi-monthly. Look for my next post around October 27.

A big thank you to all of my faithful blog followers!!!
If you are not currently getting my blogs via email, I’d love for you to do so!
PLEASE, join my blog following for Free!!!
Sign up on the right-hand side of this page, or go here.

I couldn’t resist posing with this cardboard Chewbacca
during the Target (a Minneapolis based company)
Star Wars Force Friday Event. 

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A Brief Visit to Iowa

September 21, 2015

A Brief Visit to Iowa

In Winterset, Iowa, I stand in front of the covered bridge,
featured in the movie The Bridges of Madison County.

I grew up in Iowa, a child of the midwest. Although, my mailing address has not been in the zip code of the “tall corn state” for decades (…more on the reason for that here.), a part of me remains an Iowan at heart. (To read an earlier Iowa post, click here.)


In fact, while growing up, my four children considered my, almost involuntary, urge to utter a simple “hi” to all I encountered, a bit strange (among other things  :o)). It was not long after our daughter began her college career at Iowa State University, that she called me one day exclaiming, “I get it now! The way you act, is the way people just ARE in Iowa!”



Recently, returning and gazing upon the agrarian tapestry of a landscape, I felt an inexplicable sense of calm. I always enjoy all that my home state has to offer, and this brief visit did not disappoint.


The Visit
It would be a quick two day visit to Iowa. Dale and I headed to the center of the state
to see my mom.

IMG_7657My mom taking a well-deserved break from the day’s cooking.

Carefully planning out how our time together would be spent, first on the list was a family get-together with aunts, uncles and cousins. My mom, an excellent cook, prepared a tasty chicken recipe (the recipe is included below) and yummies.  My Aunt Liz, also an excellent cook, prepared delicious pies for the feast.(See the recipe for one of those pies below.) It was a nice evening of food and family fun.


Aunt Liz, the artist of pies!

John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Winterset
Nothing says Hollywood quite like Winterset, Iowa. Yes, that’s right, I said Winterset, Iowa!  Winterset is the birthplace of “The Duke”, John Wayne. Winterset is also the setting for the 1995 film, The Bridges of Madison County (Read more about that here), and had town locations used in scenes for the 1971 movie Cold Turkey (Read my earlier blog post about my Cold Turkey connection here, and about all of this movie’s locations here.)

Winterset, Iowa’s pretty town square

The John Wayne Birthplace Museum
I loved our visit to the John Wayne Museum!
It was a treasure trove of John Wayne’s personal items and movie memorabilia.

This impressive sculpture, donated to the museum by the Wayne family, stands outside of the John Wayne Birthplace Museum.

A museum plaque proudly proclaims the only John Wayne museum in the world. 

Museum tickets serve as our admission to John Wayne fun.

A self-guided tour at the museum began with a short film highlighting
John Wayne’s movies. Wayne made over 175 films during his
Hollywood career.

To read more on John Wayne and his career, click here and here.

I fell in love with this beautiful Andy Warhol print of John Wayne
hanging in the 

An interesting museum item was John Wayne’s customized
1972 Pontiac station wagon.
The car’s roof and the doors were manufactured a bit taller than the standard height, for 6-foot-4-inch Wayne.

To read more about the car’s addition to the museum, read here.

Dale and I stand near a “wax” John Wayne with my mom and uncle.

Amusingly, John Wayne’s address/phone book includes Ronald Reagan’s California information listed on the the same page as the
washing machine repairman. 

My Very Most Favorite John Wayne Films,
Listed in Order and Shown From My Private DVD Collection
Of the 175+* John Wayne films, I have my favorites, and then  I have my very most favorites. Seeing some of the props and costumes from these faves at the museum was great fun.
*(The exact number varies from 140-250, according to the source. Among his early films , John Wayne was a singing cowboy called Singin’ Sandy Saunders!)

The Quiet Man (1952)


McLintock! (1963)


Hatari! (1962)


Donovan’s Reef (1963)


North to Alaska (1960)


Hellfighters (1968)

IMG_8021 (1)

And let me add, although not a movie, the classic TV episode from
I Love Lucy
“Lucy and John Wayne”
Season 5, Episode 2


For a list of most John Wayne movies, and a brief synopsis, click here.

 The Quiet Man
The Quiet Man is the favoritest (my own creative word choice) of my most favorite John Wayne movies. So much so, that a couple of years ago Dale and I traveled to Ireland to see for ourselves the Ireland of director’s John Ford’s vision, as seen in The Quiet Man. (You can read about that trip’s beginnings here.) It was a treat to view a special corner of the museum dedicated to this outstanding movie.

Maureen O’Hara, John Wayne’s friend and co-star in five films, including The Quiet Man, is listed as a distinguished benefactor of the museum.
O’Hara spoke at the museum in 2013.  

A movie poster for The Quiet Man hangs high on the museum wall.

The Quiet Man statue, featuring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, at the museum has a larger “cousin” in Cong, Ireland.  Cong served as the location site for the film.

To see The Quiet Man statue in its full-size form, and read about my
Quiet Man trip to Ireland, click here.



The jacket in the center above, with the shoulder patch, was worn in the
John Wayne film Hatari!, filmed in Africa.
In addition to being a fun script, the scenery and wildlife in Hatari! make this film always enjoyable to watch.

Houston, one of the locations used in the film, Hellfighters, was my home for sixteen years, adding a special personal connection to an already entertaining film.  John Wayne’s character in this movie was based on Houston’s real-life oil well fighter, Red Adair.


One day, while living in Houston in the early 1990’s, I was in line at the grocery store.  In front of me was an elderly man, short in stature, speaking jokingly to the cashier; a real character, to be sure, with a twinkle in his eye. I thought he looked vaguely familiar. When he had left, and I took my turn with my groceries, I quietly asked the cashier about his last customer.  The cashier said that he was a frequent customer, Red Adair. Of course, I replied, as I had seen photos of him in the newspaper. I could not help chuckling to myself, thinking of the considerable height difference between Mr. Adair and John Wayne, who portrayed him in Hellfighters. :o)

This red hard hat was worn by John Wayne in the Hellfighters.



This letter was written by Lucille Ball in 1981 to celebrate the opening of John Wayne’s birthplace and early boyhood home. This house is just around the corner from the museum, and is featured below.

To watch the funny I Love Lucy-Lucy and John Wayne episode, click here.

John Wayne’s Birthplace and Early Boyhood Home

John Wayne was born in 1907, in this neat little house as
Marion Robert Morrison.
He was 13 pounds at birth, and delivered by a female doctor.


A photo of a young Marion Morrison (John Wayne) above, with his younger brother, mother, and father. A young Morrison took his nickname Duke from the name of his family’s Airedale, standing next to him in this picture.
This Morrison Family portrait was taken during their relatively short time attempting to farm in Mojave Desert in California.
Note the guns around his parent’s waists, used as protection against poisonous snakes.

The Morrison Family Kitchen

For more information about the new John Wayne Birthplace Museum, click herehere and for articles on the museum click here and here.

To view an interesting John Wayne biography, click here.

For fun John Wayne trivia, click here.

Clint Eastwood was here!
Upon finishing our enjoyable self-guided tour at the John Wayne Birthplace Museum, I asked one of the museum staff for a good place to eat in Winterset.  She recommended
The Northside Cafe, and told me to be sure to sit on the fourth stool from the front, as that is the exact spot where Clint Eastwood once sat. I was convinced!

I was excited to be in front of Winterset’s Northside Cafe


I sit on the fourth seat from the door, the exact same one that Clint Eastwood sat on in the 1995 movie The Bridges of Madison County!
Okay, so I am not a big fan of the film, but it is still fun to check out the
movie’s locations.
I also met a man sitting on the stool next to me who met his Maryland wife while he was stationed in the Army in 1973!

I enjoyed the Iowa Tenderloin at Northside Cafe!,

I take in the beauty of the Roseman Bridge with my mom and uncle.

 Roseman Bridge was the real star of the movie 
The Bridges of Madison County.

 We were happy to be able to peer inside the Roseman Bridge.
Cars are no longer permitted to drive though it.


Our Winterset visit concluded with a trip to the Montross Coffee Shop, found in back of the Montross Pharmacy.  It was a step back in time,
as I sat at the counter sipping their speciality soda, the Green River.
It had a nice lime flavor, but was a bit too sweet for me.)

Bar-BQ in Des Moines
It was our last night in Iowa, and we had barbecue on our mind, and in particular,
Smokey D’s BBQ.   It was a good choice!


Guy Fieri, of the Food Network show Diner’s Drive-ins and Dives, had visited Smokey D’s since the last time I had been here. This autographed poster of Guy is now proudly displayed in the restaurant.
Whenever visiting a new city, I google the city name and Diner’s, Drive-ins and Dives for suggestions on where to eat. 

To view the 2014 episode that features Smokey D’s BBQ , click here.


Everything was delicious at Smokey D’s!  The ribs… perfect,
the cucumber & onion slaw yummy, and the fries done just right.

To view the Smokey D BBQ menu, click here.
Beware, reading it may make you hungry!

My mom, uncle and me, after a satisfying meal at Smokey D’s BBQ. 

Clear Lake, Iowa

It had been a fun, short visit, but it was time for Dale and I to head out of Iowa.  As we pointed our car north, we looked forward to meeting my friend, Jodi, just off the highway in Clear Lake for a quick visit. We rendezvoused at The Surf Ballroom, and while there we had a look around. The Surf Ballroom, a blast from the past, is best known as the final show venue for Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper/Jiles Perry “J. P.” Richardson, Jr.  Tragically, they all perished in an airplane crash in an nearby cornfield, not long after their 1959 performance.

IMG_7868IMG_7867It was a beautiful autumn day, as I stood outside The Surf Ballroom,
unlike the blizzardy night when Buddy Holly last played here.

 The Surf Ballroom houses a museum of fascinating musical artifacts,
and is free to the public, although a donation is requested.

It was great fun meeting up with my dear friend, Jodi.
Isn’t she adorable?

To read about how I first met Jodi, please click here.
To view a few of Jodi’s beautiful paintings, click here.

A local newspaper tells locals of the terrible plane crash of February 3, 1959.

A poster advertises the Winter Dance Party, featuring Buddy Holly,
Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper.

Jodi, Dale, and I found Don McClean’s, signed photo of interest.
It reads,
To The Surf-This is the temple to Buddy Holly music-
There are ghosts here.
Don McClean

McClean wrote his hit song American Pie about Buddy Holly’s untimely death (Holly was 21) with his lyrics Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie…
the night the music died.

To read the complete lyrics to McClean’s American Pie, click here.


McClean wrote, in 1994, the beginning lyrics to his popular song, American Pie, on the celebrity wall, in the dressing room next to the stage.

To read, in Don McClean’s own words, about how he came to write on
The Surf’s wall in 1994, read here

It was most likely due to McClean and his song American Pie in 1971 that interest in the long forgotten Buddy Holly was rejuvenated.
In 1978, the movie The Buddy Holly Story was released, due to this renewed interest. Gary Busey received an Oscar nomination for his performance in the film.

To read more about Don McClean’s American Pie, click here.

To hear the song American Pie, click here.

I stand on the same Surf Ballroom stage that Buddy Holly once played on.

Surf performers look out from the stage to see images of Buddy Holly,
Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper. 

Dale is happy to find “his band” Three Dog Night has signed (above his head) the dressing room’s celebrity wall.

IMG_7852A Brian Wilson illustration, of The Beach Boys fame, as well as his autograph, are framed in the door behind us.

IMG_7853Jodi and I pose in front of the many autographs in the Surf Ballroom celebrity dressing room.

Jodi and I giggle in front of The Surf Ballroom’s unique pineapple walls.

      IMG_7869 IMG_7871 IMG_7872
As our time spent with Jodi (and Iowa) came to an end, she treated us to lunch, including fantastic in-house made root beer, at Clear Lake’s historic
Barrel Drive-in.

Two Great Recipes from Two Great Ladies


Mom’s Italian Chicken Bake

PAM cooking spray
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup+ another 1/4 cup Italian salad dressing in bottle
1/2 package Italian Salad Dressing Mix in packet
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese-optional

Using a plastic ziplock bag, marinate chicken in dressing for 3-4 hours.
Grease with PAM  a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.
Place chicken in the greased the baking dish.
Drizzle with a little dressing; sprinkle with Italian season mix.
Cover and bake at 350° for 40 minutes.
Uncover; sprinkle with parmesan cheese, if desired.
Bake uncovered for about 10 minutes longer, or until chicken juices run clear and chicken is done.
4 servings.

Aunt Liz’s Cherry Chocolate Pie

Pie Crust: Pastry, Oreo, or Pecan Sandies

For Pecan Sandies Crust
1 row of of package of cookies, about 20, to make a heaping 2 cups of crumbs
2 Tbsp. sugar
3-5 Tbsp. melted butter

Crush cookies, combine with sugar and melted butter.
Press into 9 inch pie plate.
Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees; it will feel soft when first out of oven,
but will firm up as it cools down.
Cool crust completely before filling.

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tea. salt
1 can of cherry pie filling
1/2 tea almond extract

Optional Garnish:
Whipped Cream

Put the three filling ingredients in a microwave-
safe bowl.
Slowly melt.
Add cherry pie filling and almond extract.
Pour into cooled baked crust.
Chill 2-3 hours until firm.

Garnish, if desired, with whipped cream,
and cherries.

Thanks so much for reading. :o)


I attempt to post my blog bi-monthly, so look for my next post around October 6

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JOHN WAYNE                                                                                                                IMG_7684

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