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Briefs: stocking stories, e-mail meals and a Florida castle

Today's cover

Decking the trees — and a mantel

Inside today, readers tell us about their treasured Christmas ornaments. Gail Reynolds, 62, of Dade City couldn't resist sharing this cozy pair of stockings. Her story:

"It was December 1967 when my husband and I were first engaged and his family invited me to spend college break with them. For years, Bill's mother had made personalized Christmas stockings for each family member. Lo and behold, she made one for me, which made me feel most welcomed to the family. After 41 years of marriage, we still hang our stockings: mine, from when I was 20; his, from when he was just 10."

Easy Meal Ideas by e-mail

Try an easy casserole with Florida fish, Baked Snapper With Mushrooms, a recipe that St. Petersburg Times food editor Janet K. Keeler shares today with readers on Page 19. It's just one example of Easy Meal Ideas, recipes you can now get by e-mail every weekday afternoon. Sign up for her free recipe delivered to your in-box at

Singer Boyle's dream hits TV

Singer Susan Boyle, 48, is featured in a new TV special, I Dreamed a Dream: The Susan Boyle Story. The singer, who lost the Britain's Got Talent contest but bowled over judges with her come-from-nowhere voice, shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart in her debut earlier this month, selling 701,000 copies of I Dreamed a Dream, a debut record, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The special, now on the TV Guide Network cable channel, with performances by Boyle, airs Thurday night at 8 with repeats.

A banana for potassium, or . . .

The average American diet generally provides the right amount of the mineral potassium, about 4,700 milligrams per day. If your doctor tells you a potassium-rich banana a day is on your menu, perhaps because of high blood pressure or another heart ailment, maybe you'd like to mix it up for breakfast. A medium banana has about 425 milligrams of potassium. Other foods with similar values, from the U.S. Agricultural Research Service:

Cantaloupe, 1/4 medium, 468mg

Stewed prunes, 1/2 cup, 398mg

Orange juice, 1 cup, 480mg

Dried apricots,

1/4 cup, 378 mg

Get on the bus for some antiquing and a visit to a Florida castle

Here's a wild ride: Hop on the bus Jan. 22 and you'll go antiquing in Lake Placid, have lunch and tour Henscratch Farms Vineyard and Winery (plan on picking strawberries, too) and end your day, get this, at a real-life castle. That's Solomon's Castle, the medieval-style fortress built by artist Howard Solomon in the town of Ona. The bus will depart for Lake Placid (about 85 miles east of Bradenton) at approximately 8 a.m. from your choice of two stops, the St. Petersburg College Health Education Center at 7200 66th St. N in Pinellas Park, or the St. Petersburg College Gibbs Campus at 6605 Fifth Ave. N. The bus returns around 6 p.m. The cost, which includes admissions, lunch and transportation, is $75. To register, call the college's Lifelong Learning Department at (727) 341-3196. (Before you hit the road, read a story about Solomon's Castle written by St. Petersburg Times Real Florida columnist Jeff Klinkenberg; go to and find the link under Dec. 16.)

Compiled by Mimi Andelman, LifeTimes editor

Briefs: stocking stories, e-mail meals and a Florida castle 12/15/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 3:30am]
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