Tag: snowbird free time

Books Connect Snowbirds to Community: Six Favorite Local Gulf Coast Books

I am honored to have two original maps published in “Florida’s Emerald Coast, A Pathway to Paradise” by Robert Reynolds Books Connect Snowbirds to Community Six Favorite Local and Regional Gulf Coast Books At the end of summer when the weather starts changing and there’s 

Cooking Class: Four Festive Hors d’oeuvres

The small bite hors d’oeuvres are beautifully presented, everything is more sparkly and has an element of being that much better. Beef tenderloin blue cheese bites Butternut squash crostini with arugula hummus Parmesan crisps with Prosciutto and orange marmalade preserves COOKING CLASS Four Festive Small 

How to Meet People in Your Snowbird Community

The best place to start meeting people is in your own neighborhood, whether at the pool, community center or walking your dog
The best place to start meeting people is in your own neighborhood, whether at the pool, community center or walking your dog

How to Meet People in Your Snowbird Community

Ideas for new and seasoned snowbirds

Recently I was contacted by a reader who is planning her first snowbird stay this winter. She has vacationed in NW Florida for many years, but never for an extended time and is looking for suggestions to find group activities. Her concern is becoming bored staying in the condo for a month and she asked if I could offer some ideas to help. She said she enjoys "food-related activities, walking/hiking and biking" as well as any other recommendations.

Ironically, I can absolutely relate to this. We purchased our first vacation rental condo in the winter of 2021 and stayed in it for the first time for Thanksgiving. Although we have rented a unit nearby for six seasons, we have no network of friends at the new place for a late Autumn stay and it is basically starting over again. Not just meeting new people, but adjusting to a new environment, which is more complicated than it might seem. So I began researching ideas of where to begin to meet like-minded individuals, not only for the reader who contacted me, but for myself as well. This is what I came up and it's a spring board to build upon not just your first snowbird season, but every season thereafter. Make a plan and stay the course.

How to Meet People in Your Snowbird Community

Meeting new people in a community outside your primary area can be daunting. In fact, it can create anxiety and feelings of apprehension, but with a plan and goals, it will be much easier to accomplish.

Start with Your Own Snowbird Neighborhood

Where to start? I recommend the best place is the neighborhood where you are staying while in your snowbird community. If it is a condo complex, high rise or park model community, there will probably be many neighbors around who you will encounter while walking to and from the parking lot, riding on the elevator or while at any of the resort's amenities such as the pool, fitness center, tennis courts, hiking trails, community center, etc.

If you are staying in a residential neighborhood of traditional homes, it may take longer to meet your neighbors, so make an effort to be outgoing and say hello as you are jogging, walking your dog or spending time outside your residence.

Wherever people are congregating, look for that place and join them. As an example, there are private beach access points with seating all along our southern community. Many residents gather there daily for watching the sunrise and sunset and it's easy to strike up a conversation. Just the basics, "Where are you from?" is enough to lead to more conversation.

Snowbirds tend to be very outgoing and get acquainted fairly quickly. Networking with neighbors has been my go-to method to make new friends and once that happens, new plans will pop up. We've hosted and attended food-themed parties, watch parties for sports events, Valentine's and Galentine's dinners, Mardi Gras, traditional pot lucks and more. No one plans for the long term, it's much more spur-of-the-moment social invitations.

Make a List of Goals and Prioritize Your Objectives

I am a goal-driven person. Lists, refinements and yet more lists are the norm for me, but not everyone thinks like that. If you aren't accustomed to making lists, it is time to start changing. By doing so, you'll identify your highest priorities for the time period you are living in your snowbird home. Perhaps it is learning a new skill, seeing new places, trying different foods and recipes or activities such as golf or pickle ball. I feel better when I know I've checked off a few items from my list and of the remaining ones, those are the new priorities when we return again.
I have to admit, upon arrival at the beach I usually feel I will have a ton of time to see and do things on my list and by the time we go home it seems there wasn't enough time to get everything in. Boredom isn't typically an issue because being in an entirely different place provides a contrasting perspective. There's different retail stores, food suppliers and scenery and always something new to experience if you look in the right places.

Use Social Media to Find Special Interest Groups

Social media has helped me connect with local and regional special interest groups all year round. By the time I arrive in my snowbird community, I'm already familiar with the various topics and issues that have been mentioned in the special groups, such as where to eat, shop, activities, local attractions and much more.
If you want to get involved in local groups while in the area, look online for information. Below is a link that is a good example of where to find information in Walton County, Florida. It provides some wonderful options for everything from Sea Turtles, "Friends of" local and state parks and groups dedicated to preserving the local bay-area environment and so forth. Look for the same kinds of information for the area where you will be staying. Volunteering one's time to a common cause is a great way to meet like-minded individuals.

Seek Festivals and Tours of Personal Interest

I looked at festivals taking place during my reader's stay in the area and some examples include Mardi Gras, which is March 1, 2022 and the Gumbo Fest, March 17, 2022. Fort Walton Beach hosts a chili cookoff February 12, 2022. The Destin Shrimp and Grits Fest is Saturday, February 26, 2022. The upscale community of Alys Beach on 30A hosts their annual 30A Wine Fest fundraiser from Feb 23-25, 2022. No matter what event you are considering, I recommend getting advance tickets as soon as they go on sale because they often times sell out. Many of the festivals offer taste-testings and competitions, plus the scenery is beautiful and there may be live music.
Another idea is visiting a local farmers market such as the Grand Boulevard Farmer's Market, which is open every Saturday morning. If you have a favorite hobby such as crafts or photography, seek groups in your new community. There may be postings in the local craft store if you aren't really an online kind of person. Community classes are a fantastic way to broaden your skills. Many times a class is just one or two sessions if sponsored by the local Parks and Rec department.
For my recent Thanksgiving stay, rather than dine at a local buffet, I found and booked a dinner cruise on the Choctawatchee Bay. It was a memorable evening with a traditional Thanksgiving meal served on a beautiful yacht. But just as important, my husband and I were seated with two enjoyable couples and the six of us had a wonderful time getting acquainted.
No matter where you are staying, it is likely there are an array of activities and things to do that are unique from your primary community. Think outside the traditional box if need be. The whole point is not necessarily find your new BFF, but to expand your experiences so that you come home with a new view of yourself as well as the places and people you meet along the way.



“It is through the strength of what is genuine that meaningful connections build into relationships.”

-- Michelle Tillis Lederman, American author, keynote speaker

Autumn Tour of Saugatuck on Lake Michigan’s Eastern Coastline

Autumn Tour of Saugatuck on Lake Michigan’s Eastern Coastline A Nostalgic, Romantic, Artsy Waterfront Vacation Destination When my twin sister first announced she was coming home to the Midwest from Hawaii, she invited me to go on a “mini vacation within a vacation.” We have 

Power of Social Media Groups

HARNESS THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA GROUPS Timely recommendations for everything in your community Country music star Luke Bryan’s Shore Thing cigar bar on 30A is a fun place to spend time if you don’t mind cigar fumes Social media groups that hone in on 

Walking Tour Ruskin Place Park, Seaside FL

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Ruskin Place Park

Walking Tour of Ruskin Place Park in Seaside Florida

Ruskin Place Park in Seaside Florida, former site of scenes from The Truman Show, filmed in scenic Seaside

Artist Colony, Townhomes, Shops, Live Entertainment 

Ruskin Place park is a wonderful destination for anyone touring the Seaside, Florida community in South Walton County of Northwest Florida. It is a community within a community that was designed for quieter moments away from the more crowded areas.

Originally conceptualized as a live/work concept for an artists' colony with shopkeepers residing above their storefronts, Ruskin Place has evolved into a multi-use neighborhood within Seaside. It is set up to be a purposefully less-trafficked business district away from the busier, more touristy areas of Seaside with permanent residences and vacation rentals located on the second and third floor townhomes lining the park, some of which have rooftop terraces. The center of the park serves as an event center for live entertainment and special occasions such as weddings.

Ruskin Place was the site of the fictional town of Seahaven's business district when the movie "The Truman Show" starring Jim Carrey was filmed on location in 1998. The entire town of Seaside was featured in The Truman Show and Ruskin Park scenes include a set-created fictional Seahaven Insurance, where Jim Carrey's character walked to walk. The town of Seaside allocated funds from the proceeds of their production/location fees to fund The Seaside School as well as make improvements to Ruskin Place park.

"Emerald Coast" magazine featured Ruskin Place and an online article was published March 20, 2013.

Ruskin Park is a hidden gem in the Seaside community. Take a closer look around your own community to find the special parks and places that may be lesser known than the more obvious attractions. You may be surprised at what you find.

The photos are from February, 2021, I hope you enjoy the photo gallery.


"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.

-- John Muir, Scottish-American "Father of the National Parks"

Snowbird Gift Guide

Consumables such as beach towels, local craft beverages and specialty food items are great options for someone who is not easy to buy for   Snowbird Gift Guide 75 Best Gifts, Souvenirs for Yourself and Your Home Team Shopping for souvenirs, mementos, keepsakes and gifts 

Alys Beach – Stunning Architectural Tour

Architecture Tour of Stunning Alys Beach, Florida Renowned for Iconic Architecture, New Urbanism Movement If you’ve never experienced Alys Beach on the Gulf Coast of Northwest Florida’s panhandle in-between Panama City and Destin, I highly recommend it as a must-see while in the vicinity. Renowned 

Cooking Class: Five Elegant Hors d’oeuvres

Elegant Hors d'oeuvres Midlife Snowbird
Chef Patrick Whetstone expertly demonstrated elegant hors d' oeuvres for the community cooking class
Elegant Hors d'oeuvres Midlife Snowbird Recipe
Thick cut candied bbq rubbed bacon topped with garlic sauteed shrimp and fresh minced chives
Bite Sized Potato Salad Hors d'oeuvres Midlife Snowbird Recipe
Beautiful bite sized purple potato salad bites stuffed with mustard aioli, hard boiled egg, bacon bits and celery leaves
MInt Pea Crostini Midlife Snowbird Recipe
Crusty crostini topped with mint pea spread, marinaded grape tomatoes and basil
Beef tenderloin nacho bites Midlife Snowbird Recipe
Beef tenderloin nacho bites topped with white cheddar cheese, pico de gallo and a dollop of avocado mousse
Cream Soup Shooters Midlife Snowbird Recipe
Cream soup shooters can be served in plastic shot glasses for a large crowd since most snowbird homes aren't stocked with glass bar ware


Five Elegant Hors d'oeuvres

Five elegant hors d'oeuvres, perfect bite-sized presentations that appeal to every sense. One of the highlights of my year is taking community classes through our city's Parks and Recreation Department. Of all of the years of cooking classes, this class stood out as the very best! The hors d'oeuvres we learned to make are beautifully presented, tasty and there is a variety of ingredients and styles. For less stress, make some of the components a day or two in advance and of course commercially prepared ingredients such as pico de gallo and cream of chicken soup are perfectly fine short cuts if you prefer. The recipes shown here are written based on my notes from the class presented by professional chef, Patrick Whetstone. All five are delicious, easy and most definitely suitable for snowbird entertaining. Not only are these hors d'oeuvres festive for the upcoming holidays, they are great for any event year round. Bon appétit!

Snowbird meals tend to be much simpler, using fewer ingredients and a very limited selection of appliances and gadgets to prepare them. Choose the freshest, highest quality ingredients and find alternate ways to make your favorite recipes. Forget about what you don't have to cook with, instead focus on what you can accomplish with what you do have. - Midlife Snowbird

Elegant Hors d'oeuvres


Elegant Hors d'oeuvres, Midlife Snowbird
Thick cut candied bbq rubbed bacon topped with garlic sauteed shrimp and fresh minced chives

18 Pieces

Recommended: Applewood thick cut bacon

6 slices thick cut applewood bacon, cut in thirds

1/4 cup BBQ dry rub* or to taste. A ratio of half brown or white sugar and half spice is preferred. If needed, add sugar to balance the ingredients.

12 medium sized shrimp, uncooked, cut in fourths

2 T. chives, minced

2 T. garlic, minced

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

*A commercially prepared dry rub is fine or use your own recipe


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Dredge both sides of the bacon pieces into a bowl of barbecue spice rub, then lay flat on a cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the bacon is cooked and blackened. Remove from oven and let cool.

Simmer garlic and olive oil in a small frying pan over low heat until garlic is softened. Add shrimp and saute for about one minute or until no longer translucent. Do not overcook. Remove from heat.

Assemble garlic shrimp piled on bacon, then top with minced chives. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Serve at room temperature.

Elegant Hors d'oeuvres


Elegant Hors d'oeuvres, Midlife Snowbird
Beautiful bite sized purple potato salad bites stuffed with mustard aioli, hard boiled egg, bacon bits and celery leaves

24 Pieces

Recommended: Purple potatoes

12 small purple potatoes, boiled and halved

2-3 hard boiled eggs, peeled

1/2 cup mustard aioli

2 pieces bacon, crumbled OR one 4 oz. package real bacon bits

1/4 cup celery leaves

1 t. Kosher salt

1/2 t. Fresh cracked pepper

Optional: 2 -3 green scallions, sliced

Mustard Aioli

1 T. garlic, minced

2 T. Dijon mustard

1 t. honey

1 cup mayonnaise

1 t. minced dried onion

Blend all ingredients, then refrigerate a few hours to blend the flavors.


Place eggs in a small pan of salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer the eggs 15 minutes. Drain and immerse in cold ice water to chill. Peel eggs and set aside.

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Drain and let cool. Slice in half lengthwise, then use a melon ball tool or small spoon to hollow the centers. Discard the centers or save for another recipe.

Cut hard boiled eggs into fourths, lengthwise. Then cut each quarter into approximately 2-3 wedges.

Season hollowed potatoes with salt and fresh cracked pepper. For an additional pop of flavor, sprinkle a few scallion slices into each potato. Then fill the center with mustard aioli so it's almost level with the edge of the potato. Top with celery leaves, bacon crumbles and egg. Generously sprinkle with kosher salt.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Elegant Hors d'oeuvres


Elegant Hors d'oeuvres, Midlife Snowbird
Crusty crostini topped with mint pea spread, marinaded grape tomatoes and basil

24 Pieces

Recommended: Fresh Basil, Mint Leaves

24 pieces ciabatta bread, sliced thin

18 grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise

5 - 6 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade ribbons

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup vegetable stock

1 cup OR 1 bunch fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 T. garlic, minced

2 T. onion, diced

2 T. butter or margarine

2 T. white wine


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice grape tomatoes lengthwise into quarters. Place them in a container and add salt, pepper, basil leave chiffonade plus several tablespoons of olive oil to coat the tomatoes. Chill the marinade in the refrigerator for at least an hour or two to allow flavors to blend.

Place thinly sliced ciabatta bread onto baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake approximately 3 or 4 minutes until toasted. Do not overcook. Remove from oven and let cool.

Boil peas in a small pan or microwave until cooked al dente. Drain and let cool.

Simmer onion in white wine, butter or margarine in a small frying pan over low heat until softened. Add garlic to onion and butter. Saute for about one minute more or until softened. Add approximately half of the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.

Place peas, mint leaves and sauteed onion mixture into a blender to puree. OR use an immersion blender. The desired consistency is wet sand. It should not be runny. Adjust vegetable stock if more is needed to obtain the proper thickness. Chill mixture in the refrigerator.

Assemble crostini with a thick slather of the pea-mint mixture. Top with marinaded tomatoes. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Serve at room temperature.

Elegant Hors d'oeuvres


Elegant Hors d'oeuvres, Midlife Snowbird
Beef tenderloin nacho bites topped with white cheddar cheese, pico de gallo and a dollop of avocado mousse

24 Pieces

Recommended: Beef tenderloin

24 small round gourmet tortilla chips*

6 ounces beef tenderloin

1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded

2/3 cup pico de gallo

1/2 cup avocado mousse

2 T. garlic, minced

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

Pico de Gallo Recipe

1/3 cup tomato, diced

1/3 cup red onion, diced

1 T. vegetable oil

1 T. jalapeno pepper, minced

1 T. fresh cilantro, minced

Dash ground cumin, kosher salt, pepper

Finely dice red onion and tomato. Add 1 T. minced jalapeno pepper and 1 T. fresh minced cilantro. Season with kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and dash of ground cumin. Blend and chill.

Avocado Mousse Recipe

One fresh avocado, pitted and skinned

1/4 cup sour cream

1 lime

1/4 t. Kosher salt

1/4 t. fresh cracked pepper OR white pepper

Puree avocado, approximately 1/4 t. lime zest, 2 T. fresh lime juice and sour cream with immersion blender. Chill in refrigerator.


*Make your own tortilla chips by using a round shape to cut corn enchiladas into silver-dollar sized pieces, then pan fry in hot canola oil until crispy, flipping one time. Remove, let drain on paper towels and sprinkle with Kosher salt.

Cut beef tenderloin into a lengthwise strip approximately the diameter of a fifty cent piece. Season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Preheat frying pan over medium high temperature. When hot, add vegetable oil. Then brown beef tenderloin until an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove from heat and let rest for ten minutes.

Slice beef tenderloin into 24 silver dollar-sized pieces

Prepare avocado mousse and chill in refrigerator.

Prepare pico de gallo and chill in refrigerator.

Assemble beef tenderloin onto tortilla chips, sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh pepper, then heap with shredded cheddar cheese. Broil for a minute or two until cheese melts.

Top each tortilla chip with pico de gallo, sprinkle with kosher salt, then dollop avocado mousse on top.

Serve at room temperature.

Elegant Hors d'oeuvres


Elegant Hors d'oeuvres, Midlife Snowbird
Cream soup shooters can be served in plastic shot glasses for a large crowd since most snowbird homes aren't stocked with glass bar ware

24 Shooters

RECOMMENDED: Puff pastry and plastic or glass shot glasses

1 package puff pastry sheets, cut into round shapes

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 c. chicken breast, diced fine

1 standard carrot, peeled, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped fine

1/4 cup peas

3 T. butter

2 oz white wine

1 T. onion, diced fine

1 T. flour

1 T garlic, minced

1/2 t. Kosher salt

1/4 t. fresh cracked pepper (or 1/8 t. white pepper)

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll puff pastry onto flat surface. Use a glass or cutter slightly larger than the diameter of the shot glasses to cut the puff pastry into desired number of round shapes. Dock the puff pastry with a fork to reduce the puffiness when it bakes. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet and bake a few minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

Saute diced chicken and 1 T. butter in medium frying pan until meat is no longer translucent. Remove chicken and set aside.

Saute butter, carrots, celery and onion in a medium frying pan until carrots and onion soften. Transfer to a medium stock pot.

Add flour and salt to stock pot. Blend well. Then add white wine. Stir chicken or vegetable stock into pot in batches, stirring out any lumps.

Add cream, chicken, peas and the contents from the frying pan. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. Add fresh thyme and rosemary to taste.

Pour soup into shot glasses, leaving space from the rim. Top with puff pastry. Serve warm with or without a small spoon.


"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."

-- Virginia Woolf, English Writer

Snowbird Hobbies 125 Ideas

Snowbird hobbies can be simple, creative and distinctly unique, such as constructing sand castles on the beach. SNOWBIRD HOBBIES 125 Ideas For Snowbirds A hobby is defined by Wikipedia as, “An activity, interest, enthusiasm, or pastime that is undertaken for pleasure or relaxation, done during