Holiday Prelude to Key West

This past Tuesday I was privileged to attend a friend’s Christmas open house. Oh, it wasn’t any typical open house. This one was held in her wonderful greenhouse—a haven for her and her husband’s orchid collection, as well, as many other fabulous horticultural examples. It seemed like a great escape from the 20 inches of snow on the ground and, also, somewhat of a prelude to our Key West vacation. Warm. Lush. Green. Tropical. Colorful. Festive and whimsical holiday decorations (like a Christmas tree decorated with butterflies and orchids). Warm, friendly faces. It was a perfect prelude, in fact. Oh, and the food. There was a terrific tomato-based cabbage and beef soup that my friend had cooked in her slow cooker. I could safely enjoy this soup and it was just right for the cold winter day. There was also a double-chocolate peppermint bark that was both delicious and gluten free. (Lucky for you, my friend, Cathy of Noble Pig, has a recipe for Double-Chocolate Peppermint Bark at her blog. Ensure ingredients that you use are gluten free and you’re good to go!) My contribution to the open house was Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Clementine Cake. It came out very well. I’ll be back with that recipe (and photos) soon, and hopefully, lots of photos from here in Key West. Keep your fingers crossed … a bottle of water came open in my tote bag and doused its entire contents—that included my camera (now drying … I’m hoping for a full recovery).

Hope you enjoy the photos! More importantly, I sincerely hope everyone is enjoying lovely holidays with family and friends. Thanks so much for all the warm holiday wishes you’ve sent my way, too—they are working!

Not just gf, but gfe!


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21 Responses to “Holiday Prelude to Key West”

  1. Lauren on December 27th, 2009 8:36 pm

    Looks like an amazing open house! I’m sure you’ll have a blast in Key West =D.

    • Shirley on December 29th, 2009 7:35 pm

      Hi Lauren–It was a wonderful open house and I am having a blast in Key West! ;-)



  2. H.Peter on December 27th, 2009 8:52 pm

    Key West? Really.
    I mean have you no mercy on us poor freezing people back here?

    Can I carry your luggage?

    • Shirley on December 29th, 2009 7:45 pm

      H.Peter–So sorry, but I think you’ve gone on a couple of exotic trips recently yourself … ;-) Will it make you feel any better to know that there’s a cold front right now here in Key West and I am wearing a sweater as we shop and enjoy ourselves? LOL No chance of snow though … sorry, I didn’t offer you the bellman job. :-( Take me on your next LV trip and we might be able to work a deal …


  3. Iris on December 27th, 2009 11:25 pm

    What lovely photos! The colors are beautiful!

    • Shirley on December 29th, 2009 7:52 pm

      Hi Iris–Thanks! Their plants and Christmas decorations were really beautiful! :-)


  4. Ali on December 28th, 2009 8:22 pm

    Sounds (and looks) like you had such a lovely trip Shirley! Oh how we dream of taking the fam somewhere warm! Tom was just looking at tickets for Hawaii but 6 tickets, a minivan rental, and hotel costs add up very quickly! Love all of the photos! xxoo -Ali :)

    ps – my case of POM juice arrived. We are not home to enjoy it but looking forward to it when we get back tomorrow! thanks! :)

    • Shirley on December 29th, 2009 7:50 pm

      Hey Ali–There are deals to everywhere! You just have to know where to look. ;-) It will happen. I recommend waiting until the boys are a little older so they’ll remember it. Condos, houses, etc. are great options for families.

      So glad your POM juice arrived! I know you’ll make amazing things with it. :-)



  5. Gluten Free Dee on December 28th, 2009 11:41 pm

    Enjoyed the lovely pics! I’ve celebrated Christmas in Colorado almost all of my life and I always wonder how people make it festive. Thanks for giving me a look! May your new year be filled with many similar moments.

    • Shirley on December 29th, 2009 8:07 pm

      Hi Dee–Although we’ve tweeted together ;-) before, I don’t think you’ve visited gfe before—welcome to gfe! I love seeing all the ways that people decorate. It’s fun to be here in Key West and see both traditional and non-traditional decorations and celebrations. The bells from the nearby Episcopal church wake us every morning. :-) Traditional hymns and Christmas carols, too.

      All the best to you in the New Year, too!


  6. Chaya on December 29th, 2009 11:06 am

    I love these photos. I have the same kind of orchid as is in the photo (speckled). What beauty above. Thanks for sharing these with us.

    • Shirley on December 29th, 2009 8:23 pm

      Chaya–I have new respect for you because you are an orchid grower! Way cool! :-) Do you know that some people pay others to raise their orchids for them and just bring them home when they are blooming? You are a special breed, my dear. ;-)

      Glad you enjoyed the other photos. I love flowers, and orchids are amazing. :-)


    • Shirley on December 30th, 2009 1:12 pm

      Hey Chaya–How cool that you have such a beautiful orchid! They are magnificent flowers I think. One of my friend’s had very tiny flowers and looked like a grass … you would have never known that it was an orchid. ;-)


  7. Alisa - Frugal Foodie on December 29th, 2009 11:46 am

    Now that is an open house! Beautiful photos!

    • Shirley on December 29th, 2009 8:10 pm

      Hi Alisa–It was a very special open house! So much fun to be gazing at those spectacular orchids, lady slippers, etc. with so much snow on the ground. :-)

      Thanks! Happy Soon-to-be-New Year!


  8. Pam on December 29th, 2009 2:39 pm

    Welcome home Shirley! Beautiful photo’s! I do hope so much that your camera snd film is okay…I REALLY want to see the photo’s of Key West…how fun!


    • Shirley on December 29th, 2009 8:14 pm

      Hey Pam!– Not home yet … not until late New Year’s Eve! ;-) I’m blogging from wonderful Key West still …

      Well, so far, the prognosis for the camera is not looking good … I did get in some food photos … I’m still drying out my camera … we’ll see.


  9. Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free on December 30th, 2009 12:50 pm

    Happy New Year’s, Shirley!! Would have loved to be a guest at your friends party. Lovely! Can’t wait to hear all about Key West.

    So sorry to hear about your camera. Ugh.

    • Shirley on December 30th, 2009 1:46 pm

      Hi Amy–Thanks so much for the New Year’s wishes! Hope you and Joe have a wonderful New Year. :-) Winding down on our Key West trip … the camera is working some. I’m hoping for a full recovery when all the moisture is gone. (So far, the cell phone is showing no life, but of the two, I’d choose the camera.)



  10. Heather on December 31st, 2009 7:01 pm

    Wow, beautiful photos! Happy New Year Shirley. You are a great addition to the gluten-free blogging community!

    • Shirley on January 1st, 2010 12:50 am

      Hi, Heather–I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos. :-) And, thanks so much for the New Year wishes and the very, very kind words! They were so nice to come home to …

      Hugs and happy 2010 to you and your family as well!


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