My first trip to Florida was a road trip with 5 of us girls on spring break in my junior year of college. We departed from Washington DC in the evening and drove through the night for the 20-hour trip to Ft. Lauderdale. I cringe to think of how much second-hand smoke was inhaled by me as the only non-smoker, as there was at least one gal lit up during the 40-hour round trip. As we headed due south in Jill’s orange, Chevy Malibu with Georgia tags, the drive seemed endless. I could name the ’77 radio tunes and artists we heard repeatedly throughout the drive but I will spare you. OK… your curiosity must be getting to you, so I’ll name just one that must have played at least twice an hour …You’re a Rich Girl by Hall & Oates. Needless to say, none of us could relate to that song as no one at my college was rich. Rather, the lyrics are about the newspaper heiress, Patty Hearst.

Shortly after midday we arrived at our destination, a tiny motel room one block from the beach. We were not extreme partiers so we stayed out of trouble and hung out with other classmates who made the trip that spring. Although, we did overdose on the southern sun. We all took to bed one day with the chills from our awful sunburns. Sunblock ... no one used it back then. On the way home we stopped at DisneyWorld for a day before completing the drive back to campus. The collegial rite of passage spending spring break in Lauderdale was a standout memory for us all.

My College Buddies and Me (on the right)

These housewarming cookies were made for my brother who now lives in the sunshine state. Ah … no snow, no cold, just sun, heat and plenty of golf. Although I swoon over the beautiful palm trees, I don’t know if I could live in Florida but it sure is a nice place to visit. Since I was flying with these cookies on a recent trip to see my bro’s new digs, I kept the design very simple. These house cookies airbrushed and stenciled in brightly colored palm leaves represent the simple beauty of our most southern state. I made a few in the United States cookie cutter with the intention of marking Central Florida on the cookie, but the designer of this cutter doesn’t know his geography. The State of Texas is larger and situated further south than Florida and skimps on the Floridian peninsula. 

Housewarming Cookies
House Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Rose with AmeriColor Deep Pink and Wilton Brown
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
Air Brush Kit or Wilton Color Mist
AmeriColor Airbrush Colors (Deep Pink, Avocado, Violet, Sky Blue)
Palm Leaves Stencil

Outline and flood cookie with #2 tip in rose icing.

Let dry overnight.

Place stencil on the cookie. Spray with various airbrush colors. 

Gently lift stencil. Let dry 30 minutes.



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As Veterans Day approaches this year, I would like to tip my hat, express my gratitude and remember my family members who served our country. My Dad and uncles, all but one who are no longer with us, most were teenagers when they signed up to serve in WWII. Two of my cousins served during the Vietnam era.

Dad – enlisted in the United States Navy after high school graduation in 1942 at age 18. As mentioned in an earlier post, he served as a Radio Operator aboard a patrol craft ship. During WWII, he was stationed in Miami, Florida trolling daily for German submarines along our southeastern shores, sinking one.

Dad (Miami, 1942)

Uncle Tom (married to my maternal aunt) enlisted in the United States Army in 1942 at age 18. He was stationed in England, France, Germany, Belgium and Holland during WWII. At some point he and a couple of buddies were taken prisoner but managed to escape after just a few days, a fact unbeknownst to me until after his passing sixty-plus years later.

Uncle Tom (France, 1945)

Uncle Len (married to my paternal aunt) – As the only son of a widow, he was eligible for a deferment but he enlisted anyway in 1942 at age 20. He was blind in one eye after a traumatic injury yet managed to pass the eye exam and physical to serve in the United States Army. He was stationed in Europe and at some point during WWII he was captured. Two times he and fellow POWs were lined up to be executed. Unknown are the details but they did not shoot the men during that first episode. They were lined up a second time toward the end of the war because the Germans were running out of food and didn't want to share food with the prisoners. Just as their execution was to take place, word came that the war was over. What luck!
Uncle Len (Europe, circa 1943)

Uncle Bub (married to my paternal aunt) – His real name is Charles and he enlisted in the United States Army in 1942 at age 32. He was assigned duty as a Medic serving in Europe during WWII. No doubt his ultra-calm demeanor served as a comfort while he tended to his wounded comrades.

Uncle Bub (with his son, circa 1945)

Uncle Jim (married to my maternal aunt) – When he reached the enlistment age of 18 in 1945, he joined the United States Navy. He was stationed at a POW camp in Guam during the waning months of the war in the Pacific. He told his children that occasionally he would give a Japanese prisoner a handkerchief who would return it a few days later beautifully embroidered. My uncle would return the gesture with a pack of cigarettes.

Uncle Jim (1945)

Uncle Paul – He is the older brother of my Uncle Jim and enlisted in the Coast Guard at age 24 in 1941. He participated in 5 invasions in North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, Southern France and Omaha Beach, where he piloted a Higgins boat on D-Day in the Normandy Invasion. 

Uncle Paul (aboard ship, circa 1944)

Uncle Roy (my maternal uncle) – WWII was over and things were winding down by the fall of 1946 when he enlisted at age 17 in the United States Army. He was assigned to the Panama Canal Department where he served for three months.

Thomas & Mark – My maternal first cousins (sons of Uncle Tom), are the only family members from my generation to serve in the military. Tom was in the Navy (see earlier blog post)  and served a tour of duty in Vietnam after college abt 1970-1971. Mark was in the Army, post-college as well and served overseas in Berlin in the early-1970’s.

This Coconut Bundt Cake has plenty of tropical flavor without being too sweet. The glaze topping is optional but is the 'cherry on top' of the cake!

Coconut Bundt Cake
1-3/4 cups Flour
1½ cups Coconut, flaked
1½ cups Butter, three sticks, softened
2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
1/4 tsp Salt

½ tsp Baking Powder 
½ tsp Almond Extract
1 tsp Coconut Extract 
Sour Cream can be substituted for Ricotta Cheese

Grease and flour bundt pan.

Mix Flour and Coconut. Set aside.
Cream Butter & Sugar. Add Eggs and mix until light and fluffy.
Mix in Ricotta Cheese. Add Baking Powder, Salt, Almond and Coconut Extracts.
Add half of the flour mixture. Mix well. Add the remaining flour mixture. 

Pour into bundt pan. Bake at 325 for 55-65 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.

Coconut Glaze (optional)
1 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
1 tsp Coconut Extract (optional)
1/2 cup Coconut, toasted (optional)

Mix all ingredients together using a whisk. Drizzle over top of the cake. Sprinkle with coconut.




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