Category Archives: Florida 2012

Happy 14th Anniversary to Us!

Yep!  We are still in Florida, but fly out tomorrow (whew!) to head back to the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.  Steve and I are celebrating today, 14 years married and 24 years together!  Wow, I know!  It’s been a long rocky road, but we’ve made it through unscathed! and happy to still be together.  I love you Steve, thanks for being my best friend…….

jenny Kirwan and Steve Clark, 14 years married and 24 years together!
jenny Kirwan and Steve Clark, 14 years married and 24 years together!

Goodbye and thank you!……..

Well, it was a great night at Amici’s, Club Renaissance, Sun City Center, where we said goodbye to everyone before our flight back to Oz tomorrow.  The girls and guys at Amici’s are amazing…..thanks for being our friends again.  I’ll miss you all…..Julia (we hope to see you in Oz one day), Rebeka (thanks for spicing up my life!), Carrie (you’re crazy mate, but we love you), Cherry, Mike (thanks for looking after us mate!), Kimmy, Cindy, Ken, Mark, Ed (‘my’ amazing chef), Bob (the pro golfer and manager) and everyone else that made us always feel so welcome at Club Renaissance.  Thanks to our friends Roe, Diamond Jim (we were never going to that dive ‘The wooden Nickle!’) Ingrid and Sam (saying prays for your op on Thursday Ingrid), Beverley and Bob (thanks for your advice Beverley), Terry, Erica and Marty, The Romeos, all the Golf Ladies and everyone at the Gym …….Lee, the inspirational Ray, Julie, Rick, Tom, Marsha and Ron, and all the other friendly guys that I don’t know their names.  You can have your gym back now!  Hope to see you all in a couple of years.

the beautiful Rebecca at Club Renaissance.....
the beautiful Rebeka at Club Renaissance…..
Steve and Roe
Steve and Roe
Jenny kirwan (me) and Crazy Carey at Club Renaissance, Sun City Center
Jenny kirwan (me) and Crazy Carrie at Club Renaissance, Sun City Center
Jenny Kirwan (me!) and Diamond Jim at Amici's, Club Renaissance.
Jenny Kirwan (me!) and Diamond Jim at Amici’s, Club Renaissance.
Jenny Kirwan (me again) and Bob the golf pro and manager of Club Renaissance, Sun City Center, Florida.
Jenny Kirwan (me again) and Bob the golf pro and manager of Club Renaissance, Sun City Center, Florida.
The sweet, gorgeous Julia with me and Steve at Amici's Sun City Center.
The sweet, gorgeous Julia with me and Steve at Amici’s Sun City Center.
jenny Kirwan (me) and my lovely friend Cherry.
jenny Kirwan (me) and my lovely friend Cherry.
Me and Mike (what a guy!)
Me and Mike (what a guy!)
Jenny Kirwan (me) and the amazing Ed, chef at Club Renaissance Sun City Center
Jenny Kirwan (me) and the amazing Ed, chef at Club Renaissance Sun City Center
Carey and Steve at Club Renaissance, Sun City Center, Florida
Carrie and Steve at Club Renaissance, Sun City Center, Florida
Me and Mark
Me and Mark
Ken at Amici's bar, Club Renaissance, Sun City Center Florida
Ken at Amici’s bar, Club Renaissance, Sun City Center Florida

Lenny Roth and Marina Jack in Sarasota……a winner!

The views of Sarasota Bay and the Marina from Lenny's appartment are sensational....
The views of Sarasota Bay and the Marina from Lenny’s appartment are sensational….

We visited a friend in Sarasota last night and as expected, we had another amazing time.  Lenny’s apartment is on the edge of Sarasota Bay, with views to die for….and his Margaritas aren’t bad either!

Looking out over Sarasota Bay from Lenny's appartment.
Looking out over Sarasota Bay from Lenny’s appartment.

This man sure knows how to entertain first class!  He made us the best Margaritas on this planet along with finger food of mature cheddar nachos with sensational authentic salsa, pate, pretzels and crisps.

Lenny Roth's Margaritas are the best Margaritas on this planet
Lenny Roth’s Margaritas are the best Margaritas on this planet

We were then chauffeured off to Marina Jack across the road.  This place to eat and drink has always been a special spot of mine.  Marina Jack  has spectacular views over the Marina, downtown, Sarasota bay, Big Pass and out to the Gulf of Mexico.

Views from Marina Jack are sensational.
Views from Marina Jack are sensational.
Jenny Kirwan (me!) dockside at Marina Jack, Sarasota.
Jenny Kirwan (me!) dockside at Marina Jack, Sarasota.

There was a band playing while we were there and I took a small film which I will post at a later date.  Steve and I felt we were back in the ‘land of the living’ after a rather lengthy spell, cooped up in Sun City Center!  Not long now though until we enter back into Australia…..you little beauty!

lenny Roth, Jenny Kirwan and Steve Clark, dockside at Marina Jack, Sarasta, Florida.
lenny Roth, Jenny Kirwan and Steve Clark, dockside at Marina Jack, Sarasta, Florida.

Amici’s at Club Renaissance, Sun City Center, Florida.

Shrimp Scampi with extra garlic at Amici's Restaurant, Club Rinaissance, Sun City Center, Florida.
Shrimp Scampi with extra garlic at Amici’s Restaurant, Club Renaissance, Sun City Center, Florida.

The lovely chef at Amici’s makes this pasta dish for me with an extra spin….. loaded with lots of garlic and hardly any cream.  The shrimp is always tender and the hint of fresh basil in the dish is gorgeous.  This dish I have ordered every time I have been to Amici’s (which has been a lot!!!)  Thanks Ed, it’s something I’ll remember well when I finally get back to Oz!

Egrets in our pond……

Egrets enjoying themselves after the heavy rainfall.
Egrets enjoying themselves after the heavy rainfall.

Over the past week we have had storms producing heavy rain and the bird life here in Florida are loving the wet conditions that the storms have left behind.  The beautiful little birds I captured at the back of the house, down by the pond are called Egrets.  They are members of the Ardeidae family.  Large numbers take over the golf course at times and are a sight to see.

A Breath of fresh Air!

Carmen and Roy, thank you both SO much for providing another few precious moments of vibrancy and fun to our very sedentary existence we have at the moment!  Great to see you at the club and look forward to catching up again soon.

Below, is a photo of me and the two boys I left behind.  These two Labs we looked after with so much love and kindness: I miss them SO much!  Indi is 10 and Jester the monkey! is 3 years old.

 

BBQ New York Strip with Crispy Garlic Oven Chips, Onions and Tomato.

BBQ New York Strip
BBQ New York Strip

It’s perfect weather here in Florida for barbecuing, so I marinated some steak last night in olive oil, cracked pepper and Italian herbs.  How simple and delicious is steak on the barbie….served with home made garlic oven chips, it’s unbeatable.  We threw some onions and tomato on with the steaks, made a green salad and bob’s your uncle!

A Mexican Feast…..Chicken Fajitas with Guacamole, Sour Cream and Salsa.

The weekend is approaching fast and we are in Florida, so it only seems fitting to do a Mexican dish (there are quite a few Mexicans in this area! so there is no shortage of fresh jalapenos/Serrano chilies/Habanero chilies or what ever level of chili one is into!)  Steve will make Margaritas to complement our Mexican Feast!

Some like it hot!  Jalapenios and Habanaro Chilis are popular in this household!
Some like it hot! Jalapenos and Habanero Chili's are popular in this household!

Well, I touched my nose slightly after taking this shot and the burning affect has started!  Just a warning….be careful handling Habanero Chilies….good idea to wash one’s hands after handling these fiery creatures!

CHICKEN FAJITAS (SERVES TWO)

INGREDIENTS:

1 chicken breast (6-8 oz) cut into strips
1 green pepper (capsicum) cut into strips
1 large onion cut in half, then into slices
Garlic cloves smashed lightly, then cut into slivers
Chili diced finely
Olive oil (about 1 tablesp)
1 lime
Fresh chopped coriander

Flour Tortillas (warmed through), guacamole, sour cream, salsa and a little grated cheese will accompany our chicken fajitas, along with a cooling Margarita!  Fantastico!

METHOD:

1. Using a large pan or wok (if we were in Australia we would be cooking this all on the flat plate of the BBQ.) add half the oil with the onions and peppers.
2. Stir this on a high heat for a few minutes, then move to one side of pan and add the remainder of oil and then the chicken strips.
3. Stir fry the chicken until a little golden brown.
4. Bring the onions and peppers back to the centre of the pan and stir with the chicken.
5. Add the chili and garlic and stir fry for a minute or two.
6. Add the chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime juice if you like, then transfer to a serving dish.

Chicken fajitas, Mexican Tortillas, quacamole, salsa, sour cream and a little grated cheese make a delicious quick meal.
Chicken fajitas, Mexican Tortillas, guacamole, salsa, sour cream and a little grated cheese make a delicious quick meal.

We will lay out a table where the chicken fajitas are in a serving dish, the tortillas will be warmed through and served on a plate.  We’ll include the guacamole, salsa, sour cream and grated cheese for people to help themselves……oh and a wonderfully chilled Margarita!  Salud!

Chicken Fajitas......don't be tempted to over fill your Tortilla as it can prove to be a messy eating experience!!
Chicken Fajitas......don't be tempted to over fill your Tortilla as it can prove to be a messy eating experience!!

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Margarita Man!!

Steve Clark, the Birthday Boy!
Steve Clark, the Birthday Boy!

We are in Florida for Steve’s 51st Birthday and on a 31 degree day, we’ve been to the gym, gone for a swim and managed a little sunbathing!  The weather is superb at the moment, perfect for pre dinner margaritas!  One of Steve’s favourite drinks in a warm climate is the margarita.  It’s pretty easy to make as long as you have good quality ingredients….and an ice machine helps!

Tequila, Cointreau, lime juice or Margarita Mix with ice makes a sensational Original Margarita.
Tequila, Cointreau, lime juice or Margarita Mix with ice makes a sensational Original Margarita.

All you need is 1 part Cointreau, 2 parts Tequila, lime juice or Margarita Mix and ice.  Shake well and pour over ice.  Fantastico!

The bar is ready! Steve's very organized in preparation for 'margarita making!'
The bar is ready! Steve's very organized in preparation for 'margarita making!'
The perfect Margarita......it was gorgeous!
The perfect Margarita......it was gorgeous!

This was a wonderful start to a fantastic evening.  We had Roe join us from next door who we know and love well.  She is a lot of fun and extremely entertaining!  Poor Ken is still recovering from knee surgery and is in a fair bit of pain, but joined in with the celebrations.

Steve Clark with his mum Gina.....margarita making in full swing!
Steve Clark with his mum Gina.....margarita making in full swing!

 

Dr Ken Stephens, recovering from knee surgery was able to sip a margarita with us.
Dr Ken Stephens, recovering from knee surgery was able to sip a margarita with us.

 

The Guacamole Dip I made was a hit with the Margaritas!
The Guacamole Dip I made was a hit with the Margaritas!
Jenny Kirwan (me) sipping my second! magnificent margarita!
Jenny Kirwan (me) sipping my second! magnificent margarita!

We headed out to a great little pizza joint called East Coast Pizza.  They specialize in New York Style Brick Oven Pizza.  It was fantastic!

The lovely looking boys at East Coast Pizza working majic with their very capable hands!
The lovely looking boys at East Coast Pizza working magic with their very capable hands!
The New York Style Pizza at East Coast Pizza, Riverview, Florida.
The New York Style Pizza at East Coast Pizza, Riverview, Florida.

 

Jenny Kirwan (me) and Steve Clark at East Coast Pizza, celebrating Steve's 51st Birthday.
Jenny Kirwan (me) and Steve Clark at East Coast Pizza, celebrating Steve's 51st Birthday.

When we arrived back at the house, we sang Happy Birthday to Steve and he blew out some candles (impossible to fit 51 candles on the cake!!)  He had a fantastic Birthday and everyone had a great night. Can’t wait for my Birthday which will be celebrated on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia…yippee!!!

Steve's lovingly made Birthday Cake......
Steve's lovingly made Birthday Cake......
Roe had a ball!!.......Gina seeing Roe off after a fun night.
Roe had a ball!!.......Gina seeing Roe off after a fun night.

 

If my Mother could only see this…………

My mum who lives in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia (with my dear old dad of course!) would be in raptures just as I am, to see such a massive, healthy Gardenia bush in full bloom.  My mother loves this beautiful flower I think just as much as I do……it’s my favourite flower, along with Daphne.  Growing up, mum had the most magnificent Daphne bushes…..very lush and healthy plants.  When I started working in Advertising in Melbourne, she would always send back a large amount of Daphne with me when I visited at weekends…..along with a fridge full of home made goodies!!!! (gorgeous vegetable soup, corned beef, sausage rolls, bread, homemade jam and other amazing things)  Thanks mum for looking after me (and everyone else!)

Gardenia in full blume........
Gardenia in full blume........

Californian Oranges in Florida…….massive, juicy, favoursome creatures!!

These massive beasts were bought at Sams...they were extremely well priced and come from California.
These massive beasts were bought at Sam's...they were extremely well priced and come from California.

America…..the land of the huge and massive!  People….food…cars….you name it!  These oranges are he biggest ones I have ever seen.  I am told they will be very flavoursome and juicy even though they have a thick skin.  Can’t wait to try one!  Perhaps after a swim…….

Is this a Golf Cart???

Yes, believe it or not this is Gina and Ken’s super dooper golf cart.  The sides and roof come off if required or it can be water tight again with them back on.  Steve and I love this cart ……we take it down to ‘our’ pool and gym a short distance away.  It is allowed on some of the roads and there are special paths for these carts.  We drive it down to the local club for drinks and happy hour! and the local shops in Sun City Center. 

Jenny Kirwan (me) in the fun little golf cart.....
Jenny Kirwan (me) in the fun little golf cart.....
'Our pool ' down at Club Rinaissance is brilliant with the gym in the building at the far end, overlooking the pool.
'Our pool ' down at Club Rinaissance is brilliant with the gym in the building at the far end, overlooking the pool.

 This is a brilliant, relaxing place that we are very fond of.  The staff in the bar and restaurants are extremely friendly and many of them know us from our previous visits in the past.  You can even have a meal or drinks by the pool with full table or recliner lounge service!!!

Amici's Restaurant at the Rinaisance Club, Sun City Center overlooks the practice putting green.
Amici's Restaurant at the Renaissance Club, Sun City Center overlooks the practice putting green.
Club Rinaisance at Sun City Center has everything......Restaurants, Bar, Spa Club, Gym, Pool and spa, walking track and a fantastic golf course and pro shop.  Brilliant.....we love this place!
Club Renaissance at Sun City Center has everything......Restaurants, Bar, Spa Club, Gym, Pool and spa, walking track and a fantastic golf course and pro shop. Brilliant.....we love this place!

Views around the house in Florida…

The biggest, healthiest gardenia bush I have ever seen.
The biggest, healthiest gardenia bush I have ever seen.

 Just a few shots of the views we see around this lovely house of Gina and Ken’s in Florida.  It is far from the lush green fields and landscapes of England but still quite wonderful in it’s own special way….

Plumbago grows wonderfully well in the Florida climate.
Plumbago grows wonderfully well in the Florida climate.

 

Is that you Peter?
Is that you Peter?

Sandhill Cranes are a delight to see….

 

The majestic, elegant Sandhill Crane.
The majestic, elegant Sandhill Crane.
Sandhill Cranes elegantly passing the back of the house.
Sandhill Cranes elegantly passing the back of the house.

 This is not unusual, I am told, to see these beautiful birds passing the house here in Florida.  They don’t seem to be too wary of human contact and I was able to take this shot yesterday without disturbing them too much.  The White Egret is another beautiful looking bird that frequents these parts also.  They are a sight to see when they are in large numbers.

Alligators can also be seen…..not too keen on these creatures I’m afraid, but apparently they are no where near as aggressive as their Australian cousin, the beastly Crocodile!

 

Alligators are everywhere!!!!
Alligators are everywhere!!!!

 

The Warm, Sunny Bliss of Florida ……Wonderful!

Well, we finally arrived in Florida, after waiting for over an hour queuing at immigrations and customs at Orlando Airport.  It was a good flight though, in respect to well behaved children and a good crowd of passengers.  I would have to say, in my opinion, British Airways has deteriorated in so many ways.  The fact that it’s flight crew were mostly older, nearing retirement age wasn’t my main concern.  When drinks were served and hour or so into the flight, we asked if there were any snacks.  No, there were no snacks..  We had over a nine hour flight ahead of us, so needed more nourishment than the rather mean serve of curry chicken and rice that was given to us, two and a half hours into the flight.(the other meal option was sausages.) Neither appealed to me, but to go without this meal was a painful thought on an empty stomach!!  We had planned to make up some healthy baguettes to take with us but decided not to…..bad move!  The other meal that was given to us was an hour before we landed!  They called this ‘afternoon tea.’  This was a little sandwich that didn’t even touch the sides!!!  I noticed the passengers around me seemed to be woofing theirs down also…….boy landing on solid ground was a great feeling!

So, we arrived in Orlando hungry but happy to be finally at our destination.  Gina and Ken had a wonderful welcome for us…..a beautiful display of tulips adorned our bedroom and they had food!……smoked salmon and some lovely Pinot Grigio.