Heartland LIVING Magazine Feb-Mar 2024

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February & March 2024

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February & March 2024



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February 13 March 9 April 16 May 11

June 11 July 20 August 13 September 14

October 15 November 9 December 10

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Start the year off right by prioritizing your child’s oral health! At EVERGLADES PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY we’re excited to welcome the ittle ones for a fun and gentle dental cleaning. Our expert pediatric dentists create a positive and stress-free environment, ensuring your kids leave with


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www.evergladespedodent.com February & March 2024 5



Making a Dangerous Sport Less Dangerous By Christy Swift



February & March 2024 Volume 13  Issue 1


A HeART Full of Gratitude By Ladonna Paedae Rodriguez


Worth and Purpose By Rebecca Maglischo

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A Peaceful Sanctuary By Lisa Taylor Hall



86 February & March 2024 Volume 13  Issue 1


A Fail Proof Formula for Processing in the New Year...that failed By Caroline Maxcy Fox



Valentine's Day Meal at Home By Cindy Adams

DEPARTMENTS 10 Letter from the Publisher 16 Behind the Scenes 20 From our Readers 8

Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

February & March 2024

COVER Painting by Janet King

FLORIDA’S CENTERPIECE COMMUNITY For 50 years, Sun ‘n Lake has been the premier residential community in the heart of Central Florida. If you’re looking for the perfect blend of upscale living, recreation, and a sense of community, Sun ‘n Lake is where you truly belong!


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Easy Living • True Friends • Natural Beauty February & March 2024






I’m sitting writing my “Letter From The Publisher” and reflecting on 2023 and all that might have gone wrong but what could have gone wrong and didn’t. I guess I’m a glass half-full rather than half-empty kind of gal, who is always grateful when things aren’t worse. So, I’m choosing to sit here and reflect on all the positive, productive, and all the love last year has given me, personally and for Heartland LIVING Magazine. If you love what you do, you know how I feel. And for that I am grateful. I don’t often indulge in the opportunity to tell my own story, but because of a feature I’m sharing with you in this issue, I hope you don’t mind me reminiscing a little.

My publishing journey began more than thirteen years ago before Heartland LIVING was even a thought. I had an idea for a smaller magazine and named it “The Best Values of Highlands”. Let’s just say, it was probably a crazy idea because I had no clue what the heck I was doing, except while working for a different magazine I knew how to sell ads. In 2010, the adventure began. I started sharing my vision as I was going business to business selling ads. It was working, and businesses were supporting me. Then I had another cool or crazy idea. I thought I would approach my amazing friend and artist, Janet King, to see if she would want to add to my vision and paint my first issue cover. What in the world was I thinking asking such an amazing professional artist to paint my cover? Well, the amazing person and friend Janet said “Yes, I would love to.” Then it began. The first issue came out the Summer of 2010 with Janet’s artwork of Downtown Sebring on the cover. You can see the painting on page 31. Janet continued painting all my covers for the remaining issues. The best part of this story is our friendship grew stronger and is one I cherish every day. Twelve years ago, I took another leap of faith and created Heartland LIVING. Here is where I’m getting with my story… Going into my thirteenth year I couldn’t be more honored than to have another painting by Janet King grace my cover. Also, other of her paintings can be seen throughout the pages of her story she shared with us. I’m so proud of my writers and photographers for what they have brought to this issue. I could go on and on, but I will let you start turning the pages and enjoy each one of them. I feel there is something for everyone in this issue. God Bless,

Cindy Sebring Adams 10 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

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February & March 2024 11


February & March 2024

Publications & Marketing, Inc. February & March 2024 Volume 13  Issue 1

Published by CEO | Publisher Cindy Sebring Adams

Creative Director Bridgette Waldau

Editor Christy Swift

Cover Painting Janet King

Digital Media Coordinator Kelsey Schauf

Feature Photographers Matthew Christian Lisa Taylor Hall Caroline Maxcy Fox

Feature Writers Rebecca Maglischo Caroline Maxcy Fox Ladonna Rodriguez Christy Swift

Heartland Publications & Marketing, Inc.

Contributing Photographer Travis Doodles Distribution Lisa Griffin

Proud Recipient of 18 Charlie Awards

2014 - 2021

In the Following Categories:

Contact: 412 Rest Haven Road, Zolfo Springs, FL 33890 863-781-0344 E-mail

Cindy@Heartland-Living.com Become a fan on facebook


Best Overall Design Best Department Design (2) Best Feature Design (4) Cover Photo Illustration Best Traditional Illustration Best Self-Promotional Ad Best Table of Contents Best Department Design Best Photography Image (3) Best Overall Writing Best Custom Publication (2)

Florida Magazine Association

Heartland Living Magazine is published bi-monthly by Heartland Publications & Marketing, Inc. Copyright 2024, all rights reserved. Reproduction of contents in print or electronic transmission in whole or in part in any language or format must be by expressed written permission of the publisher.

All articles, descriptions and suggestions in this magazine are merely expression of opinions from contributors and advertisers and do not constitute the opinion of the publisher, editor or staff of Heartland Living Magazine, and under no circumstances constitutes assurances or guarantees concerning the quality of any service or product. Heartland Living Magazine specifically disclaims any liability related to these expressions and opinions. Heartland Living Magazine is not responsible for any unsolicited submissions. The advertiser agrees to hold harmless and indemnify the publishers from all liability.

12 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com


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February & March 2024 13

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Christy Swift has been a freelance

Bridgette Waldau has been a graphic

writer for over 13 years, working as an award-winning newspaper correspondent, magazine article writer, and web and social media content provider. She is also a soonto-be published author of Young Adult and Adult fiction. You can find her at www. christyswift.com.

Editor & Writer Rebecca Maglischo is a wife and


mother of two boys. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and a Master's Degree in Human Movement with an emphasis on Corrective Modalities. She has completed a two year study in Full Body Systems through the Holistic Nutrition Lab and a certification in Functional Range Condition through the Functional Anatomy Systems.

Ladonna Paedae Rodriguez has


written newspaper articles about Sebring, its people and its history, and finds joy in sharing with her community. Her passion for writing connects to her love of the arts. She is also a visual artist, using colored pencil as her medium. Her roots are deep in Highlands County; her mother was born in a house in DeSoto City in 1928, and her relatives were among the firefighters who went to rescue those in Moore Haven during the hurricane of 1926, giving her a unique perspective into our culture.

Kelsey Schauf was born and raised in

Digital Media Coordinator & Writer

Creative Art Director

Sebring and currently resides in Mooresville, NC. For the past eight years, she has worked as a Public Relations Representative. Kelsey left the industry in 2022 to spend more time with her husband, Jacob, and son, Kolbey. One of her passions is project management and being able to see a project through from start to finish. She is currently working at Carolina CAT in Charlotte, N.C. with the Vice President of the Rental Store.

Caroline Maxcy Fox was born and

Photographer & Writer


raised in Central Florida. She decided to be an artist at the age of five. After achieving her BSA from Florida State University, she practiced in the field of design for six years and then received a Master's in Graphic Design from NC State University. She honed her artistic craft and developed a "way of seeing" that fuels her work. Caroline is a full-time photographer and lives with her husband in the heart of Sebring. Together they run the day-to-day life at The Great Commission Bible Institute as the site coordinators and dorm parents. Naturally, adventure abounds.

LISA TAYLOR HALL picked up her


Photographer "Every GREAT design begins with an even BETTER story." - Lorinda Mamo, designer

and fine artist for over 40 years. She received her A.A. from the Ft. Lauderdale Institute of Art and a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from Stetson University. Bridgette has been creative director for several publications, working with Heartland Publications & Marketing as art director since 2011, winning 11 Florida Magazine Charlie Awards (2015- 2021). Bridgette is married to James, a retired firefighter from the City of Hialeah.

camera 7 years ago when motherhood inspired her to see the beauty in each day. She loves how photography captures a moment in time that otherwise might be forgotten. Lisa loves to capture organic moments in their best light. She grew up in Sebring and currently lives in Lake Wales with her husband and their three sons. Lisa specializes in lifestyle photography for families, small events, maternity, and graduates.

Matthew Christian is a local real estate

broker and owner at Home Town Realty Pros. He is a Sebring native who graduated from Sebring High School in 2004 and the University of Central Florida in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in business and marketing. He is married with three beautiful children and enjoys teaching the Bible, shooting sports photography, piloting small aircraft, and driving race cars at the Sebring International Raceway. He is involved in ministering to those in need through a food and clothing ministry and has a love to serve and honor God to the best of his ability.

February & March 2024 17

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www.SouthernGraceWedding.com 18 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

Honored to have been awarded Greater Sebring Chamber of Commerce BUSINESS OF THE YEAR 2023.


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CA L L 863.657.0395 O R V I S I T C H E N D E N TA L . COM February TO DAY ! & March 2024

from our READERS Heartland LIVING December 2023 & January 2024

"It was a beautiful edition." -Chastini Jones

"I remember when you (Keith Goodson) painted this, using your daughter as a model." -Barbara Bennett

"Good to see Keith Goodson get this recognition. Always beautiful and inspired work." -Blair Updike

"We want to thank Heartland LIVING Magazine for helping to get the message out about Protecting Our Paradise!"

By Christy Swift Photography By Pete Gill, Killian Gilroy and Frazier Nivens

hat do you love best about Florida? Is it the clear water and pristine beaches? The bird and wildlife sightings in your neighborhood? The fresh, salt-tinged breeze whispering

- The Discover FL Channel

through the palms? There are so many things to love, it’s hard to choose. But rampant growth and development are putting all of them at risk. “Florida is, in my very biased opinion as a

"Keep up the truthful facts." -Russell Laventure

sixth generation Floridian, the best place to live and work and raise a family,” says Traci Deen, environmental attorney and President and CEO of Conservation Florida. “I understand that people want to live here because I want to live here, too. But what

Safeguarding What We Love About Florida

we save and what we pave over the next decade is going to determine the future of our state.”

44 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com


Just picked up a copy at the Jacaranda. Another great work of art -Kathy Forder

Heartland LIVING Magazine always has great uplifting and heartwarming stories. look forward to every issue.


78 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com


-Jackie Moody

If you would like to share your thoughts, please leave a post on our Facebook page or email us at Cindy@Heartland-Living.com 20

February & March 2024 21

22 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

Heritage Festival 2024 Pai Face ntin g Toby's Clowns on o l l Ba Art

April 13 & 14, 2024

Pearce Homestead 70 Boondock Road in Fort Basinger US 98 at County Road 721

Good family FUN that celebrates HISTORY!

Gates open 10am–4pm Admission $10 per car

Florida Cracker Trail Riders

Featuring Cowboy Church •Craft Vendors •Food Truck Vendors •Local Entertainment •Demonstrations •Kids' Zone

•Spinning & Quilt Display •Cow Camp •House Tours •Colonial Period Fashion Show •Ecological Boat Tours

Sponsor and Vendor Opportunities are still available.

Find us on FACEBOOK at Heritage Association of Highlands County. For more information: Email: nfisk1949@gmail.com

Post Office Box 1531 | Sebring, Florida 33871

February & March 2024 23

PEDIATRIC ORTHOPEDICS OF SW FL Pediatric Orthopedics of SW FL strives to provide outstanding comprehensive orthopedic care to children and young adults. We utilize state-of-the-art surgical techniques and believe in practicing evidence-based medicine. From treating simple broken bones to complex congenital conditions, our team is focused on providing patient-centered care that optimizes outcomes and family experience.

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A Full of

Ladonna Paedae Rodriguez Photography by Caroline Maxcy Fox

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude." - Friedrich Nietzsche

The watercolor art of Janet King reflects her gratitude in each piece she creates. Gratitude for the ability to masterfully paint. Gratitude for her family. Gratitude to have clients who cherish her art, clients who have in turn become cherished friends.

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Janet King

February & March 2024 27

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Raised in a small New England community on a street comprised of houses which were mainly occupied by her relatives, Janet was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to visit art galleries. Driven there by her Aunt Lily who lived three doors down and who was herself a creative, Janet was exposed to the arts at a very young age. Lily would set up a painting area for 7-year-old Janet out in the yard and let her paint. Her parents Dick and Mary Foley, were very supportive of young Janet, and enrolled her in the Baum School of Art in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where she took lessons in oil painting, silver-smithing, and film development. She learned “how to see, how to look at something to realistically replicate an image.” Added Janet, “When I traveled, I took notes and did sketches, noticing how my subjects looked and how they made me feel.” In 1993, now living in Sebring, Janet’s husband Robert King and their children Jason, Drew, Barrett, Alexandra and Chris presented her with the gift of a week-long painting class under the tutelage of artist Jan Kunz. At the workshop’s end, she brought home the paintings she had created. They realized how truly talented she was and proudly hung them all about their home. So began the family’s adventure in having an artist for a wife and mom. Seeing that Janet could make a career of her art, Robert offered his office space located on North Ridgewood Drive in downtown Sebring for Janet to use as her studio, and she wasted no time in purchasing a kiln, bringing in her art supplies, and holding classes for children and adults alike. The classes soon became full. The pottery groups were enjoying creating keepsakes for brides-to-be, and Janet’s original paintings began finding homes with local patrons.

(This Page): Past photos of Janet's Downtown Sebring art studio with an overhead view of her teaching.


30 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com


s word spread around town, the demand for her works grew like wildfire. Soon, she was creating watercolor paintings for offices and homes around Highlands County, including clients that Janet King is so very full of gratitude for, and would like to publicly recognize: clients like Dr. Bob and Norma Midence, whose children took art lessons from Janet and who loved her artwork so much that not only did they commission Janet to fill their office walls with her paintings did the same for their home. Kathy Futral and Molly Doctrow purchased her works of art for South Florida Community College, bringing a new audience to see Janet’s work. She is grateful for clients like Jimmy and Jeri Wohl, who “have always been very faithful and lovely friends and patrons,” and Chris and Terri Rudasill, who “made my heart happy. Chris loved historic paintings and thought that the lady in my painting of the Sebring train station looked like his mother.” Tommy James, a building contractor, commissioned Janet to fill his model homes with paintings of her own design. She appreciates Jim and Anne Kelly who proudly display Janet’s work in their home and office, and Lon and Sherri Crow, good friends for whom Janet painted one of her favorite pieces in years: “Koi fish,” done in her clean and vibrant style. For Nick and Maggie Hucke, Janet painted their children at the beach. Of her supporters Christine and Phil Hatfield, who own The Inn On The Lakes Hotel in Sebring, Janet said, “They purchased my art, and it is on display in their hotel, exposing me to so many people who would have never seen my work.” Indeed this humble artist would rather talk about her love for those she met because of her art and about her church family than about herself. “All of the support and love I have received is amazing. This community embraced me, welcomed me, and I will never forget them. I doubt I’ll ever find a connection with another community like I have in Highlands County,” Janet said.

(This page): Images used on covers of The Best Values of Highlands (2010-11)



lthough she will soon be moving away from the area, Janet plans to keep in touch and will treasure each and every friendship she has built over her 40-plus years here. One of those dear friends is Alice Hansen, whom Janet calls “the best artist that Highlands County will ever see and my awesome friend.” There are numerous friends that Janet wants to acknowledge such as Steve VanDam, Wade and Van Sherwood, Beth Skipper, Margie Rhoades, DoDi, Ned and Tammy Hancock, John and Jan Shoop, Elsa Kahn (who invited Janet to serve on the Highlands Art League board), George and Nancy Hensley, and other friends and patrons as well. Her overwhelming message is gratitude and love. And while she may hesitate to speak of them, Janet King’s successes are many. One of her pieces was displayed in the Florida State Capitol building for a year. She has been the featured artist at the Amsterdam Whitney Art Gallery in New York City. This surreal opportunity came about because Janet requested some information from the gallery on a postcard featuring her work. To her surprise, instead of receiving a mailed reply, she received a call from the magazine, asking if it was her work on the postcard. The New York gallery wanted to feature her. She thought “This must be a joke,” but her husband Robert said, “You have to do this, and we have to bring the kids.” They booked their flight, loaded up the kids who were still living at home, and off to New York they went, paintings in tow. Little did Janet know but Robert had secretly let all of her family and friends know about the event, and they (including this writer) filled the venue in support of “their Janet.”

32 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

February & March 2024 33

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ollowing the gallery showing at New York, Janet had no idea that other monumental opportunities awaited her. Upon her return to Sebring, she was approached by John Shoop, who commissioned her to paint a series featuring historic-themed, local landmarks from the 1920s to be displayed in the then Highlands Independent Bank, of which he was President. Her talent has taken her to Italy, where she taught a group who had traveled from all over the United States specifically to learn from her. She has taught local groups, including her “Thursday Girls” group, who came every Thursday to take three-hour lessons from Janet.

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A prominent piece of art created by Janet is the Harder Hall watercolor. When asked why she created the piece, King said,“I love old, historic things. I passed by it a lot and when I thought it was going to deteriorate, I wanted to capture its image.” This piece has been reproduced and is now in the homes of Mike Swaine, Dawn Dell and is also in Mae Lee’s Deli. Several of her pieces found a new home at the local cancer center, and many people have remarked that her art was uplifting to see during a difficult time. Alice Hansen, a close friend and accomplished artist had this to say: “She is a wonderful friend and artist. Janet has an incredible amount of art knowledge. She has helped me with my art. She teaches in a way that keeps the students’ interest. They improve and have fun at the same time in her classes. Janet is quite a character, and I will miss having her here. I love her dearly.”

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ormer student, and successful artist Jaye Whitehead Backus remembers taking art classes with Janet at age seven. “Within the walls of her studio, we stuck clay to our faces and laughed at painting blunders, yet I always left feeling smart and important. Mrs. King nurtured my individuality and celebrated my creativity, giving me, a once painfully shy little girl, a space to be heard. Her kindness and warmth changed the trajectory of my life.” Lauren Taylor Spigner, also a former student of Janet’s shared that “I began taking art lessons from Mrs. King when I was 8 years old. I am so grateful for the time spent with her in her art studio!” As for what the future holds, Janet, whose husband Robert passed away in 2022, plans to spend time with her children and grandchildren Marina, Ashton, Saylor, Chris, Kate, Phoenix, Beau and Carolina, and other family members, and to continue her art. With the Atlantic beaches in Jacksonville, Florida at her front door, certainly her subjects will be the ocean, God’s beautiful creations, and her family, all of which will certainly be painted with a heart full of gratitude.


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To see Janet King’s works, visit her website: janetkingwatercolors.com If interested in commissioning her please email Janet at janet@janetkingwatercolors.com or janetking58@hotmail.com


Publisher Note: We are proud that Janet King was featured in our premier issue of Heartland LIVING and that her art images were also used on covers of another publication we did, The Best Values of Highlands.

Thank you for voting us Best of Highlands

Best Florist 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, & 2022

Photo by Rissa

February & March 2024 37

“All of the support and love I have received is amazing. This community embraced me, welcomed me, and I will never forget them.” -Janet King



40 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

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Making a Dangerous Sport Less

By Christy Swift Photography by Matthew Christian

It’s Friday morning and the Sebring International Raceway is hopping. Today they’re hosting the Sport Car Club of America (SCCA) Nationals. There are between 350 and 400 race cars on and around the track today, some roaring past us, some being unloaded from semi trucks, and some tucked into makeshift “garages” on an old airport runway they now call “The Paddock.” February & March 2024 43

Jordan Taylor, race car driver with John Story


started as a World War II Army Air Corps base,” explains John Story, senior director of marketing, communications, and business development for the race track. “It was used to train B17 bomber pilots.” Some of the concrete and asphalt dates all the way back to 1941, when the base was built. The SCCA are amateur racers—people who enjoy the sport as a hobby. A mix of cars surrounds us, including Mazda Miatas, Mini Coopers, street modded sedans, open-wheel Indies, and at least one Lamborghini. The sport of racing is fast. It’s high octane. It’s dangerous. Or as John puts it: “It’s not safe. It’s never going to be safe.” So who’s in charge of keeping people as safe as possible under these conditions? One of those people is Michelle Adams. 45

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Michelle holds the title of Race Control, and if you peer way up on the fourth floor of the race track’s tower, you’ll find her looking out through a long glass window alongside members of her team. With earbuds in her ears, three to four radios on her hips, and a computer at her disposal, Michelle’s job is to make a dangerous sport as safe as humanly possible. Along with her backup, Josh Young, Michelle is in charge of dispatching fire trucks, ambulances, and operations equipment (the trucks that either drag or transport a disabled vehicle off the track) and handling debris and oil clean-up. She also deals with issues regarding spectators Michelle Adams and liaises with the race track’s security team and the sheriff’s department, if necessary. Many race tracks are a simple oval, and the entire track can be seen from the control tower. That’s not true of the Sebring International Raceway, which features 17 total turns, each “staffed” by a pair of onsite corner marshalls whose job it is to watch for problems, report them to Michelle, and flag drivers to warn them of an obstacle ahead. Because she can’t see the whole track, Michelle has to rely on internal visualization and a deep trust in her team in order to get the right equipment to the right place on the track, ensure any injuries are dealt with, and keep everyone safe until the track is cleared again. Serious incidents can result in the track being yellow-flagged, meaning all cars are required to slow down. Even more serious cases may require a red flag, meaning all cars must pull over and wait until the track has been cleared to resume the race.

Josh Young



Michelle says. “When you’ve got a race like what’s going on right now, the turn workers will call it in, and if it’s, say, an impact in the wall, they’ll tell us to send out the trucks. You’ve got to figure out what trucks you’ve got to send and where to send them and what equipment has to go. They’ll call in what else they need. You communicate with the stewards and the marshalls and tell them, ‘These are the flags you need to help cover your safety personnel,’ etcetera. With the team that we have we can usually put our track back together within eight minutes for a minor impact. For a flat tow, we can do it in a couple of minutes.” A flat tow refers to hooking up to the car and dragging it off the track. More serious collisions might require a flat truck to physically carry the vehicle off. Michelle has been working at the Sebring International Raceway for the past 35 years. Becoming Race Control was “kind of a fluke,” she says. Originally from Pahokee, she spent some time in Georgia, and eventually worked as dispatch for the Sebring Airport Authority fire department. One day there was a big fire during the 12 Hours race, and her fire chief had her dispatch fire trucks from the station to handle it. Following that incident, the race track made the decision to have trucks and dispatch onsite, and Michelle was brought on board part-time. In a male-dominated sport like racing, many are surprised to find a woman at the helm of Race Control, but Michelle isn’t surprised. She explains that in this sport you often find women in safety roles. She loves her job partly because she loves the thrill of the races (she’s an Indy fan) and partly because she gets to meet so many people from all over the world. “You get to watch the battle between the classes, the cars neck and neck, the excitement of the wrecks. I don’t like seeing anybody hurt, but it’s still exciting,” she says. Michelle doesn’t have a favorite driver. “I like them all,” she says. “To me, everybody’s got a place in the race. Even last place is a place.” She enjoys meeting race industry professionals and even the occasional celebrity. She got to meet Reba McIntyre recently, whom she described as “the sweetest lady I ever met, very Southern.” Unfortunately, the day Harrison Ford visited was her day off.


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Of course, Michelle doesn’t handle safety all alone. When medical services are required, Safety Director Billy Kingston steps in, overseeing the Advent Medical Center onsite that is open during the larger events. The site hosts physicians, nurses, and technicians. Anything that can be treated at the track is done onsite, and every driver involved in an accident is required to go to the care center. The staff here can also treat non-accident-related concerns, such as heat-induced illness, dehydration, and even the flu. Spectators who become ill or get injured are also seen here. During smaller races, like today’s, when the medical center isn’t open, teams of doctors and paramedics are always available to assess and treat patients.

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In a sport that never can and never will be entirely “safe,” taking responsibility for the safety of those involved takes a special kind of person. In order to show their appreciation for the important work Michelle and Billy do, the Raceway leadership recently awarded both of them a Lifetime Achievement Award. “They were chosen because they are both part-time employees and their dedication is without question. They give so much of their time and have such a passion,” John explains. As the inaugural winner of the award, Michelle says she was “surprised and very honored” to be recognized. The blue and white trophy sits in her china cabinet at home where she can see it every day. With a radiant smile, she says, “I’m very proud of it.”

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By Rebecca Maglsicho Photos Courtesy Travis Doodles

H OMELESS It’s a single word printed on cardboard and punctuated by a smaller “God Bless.” This is the sign that Rick Highman grips at the stop sign in the Walmart parking lot when things get really tough. He is astutely aware that “HOMELESS” is just one letter off from “HOPELESS,” and on the days he has to hold his sign, Rick knows he is almost there. He bows his head and looks at his feet; making eye contact is just too much. He needs $20. That will get him some ham and a loaf of bread. It will also buy him a pack of smokes and some Mountain Dew, the last of life’s comforts that are still within his reach. If he can get $40, he’ll offer up a prayer of thanks that he doesn’t have to sit in this shame tomorrow. 58Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com




February & March 2024 59


64 years old, Rick has been on and off the streets of Lakeland for over 10 years. He came to Florida for his 40th birthday to escape the relentless snow in Rhode Island, and it took him a week to make the move permanent. A skilled handyman with years of experience in heating and air conditioning, Rick had no problem finding work and building a comfortable life. He was working for himself when he fell off a roof, breaking his leg. “It’s hard to ask for help,” Rick told me. “I don’t want to burden my sisters. I don’t want to feel the embarrassment of admitting I can’t get my feet under me.” It was in the Walmart parking lot on one of the dark days that an ice cream sandwich nudged the trajectory of Rick’s life in a new direction. Travis Doodles is a beacon of hope on the streets of Lakeland and Plant City. He’s also a social media icon with almost 4 million YouTube subscribers and hundreds of thousands of followers on every major social media platform. Driving a pink ice cream truck, Travis is approachable. He offers a sandwich and starts a conversation. “What do you need?” he asks Rick. Then, he bought Rick new shorts and three nights in a hotel—a bed and a shower.

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has a winding road of life experiences. He is a talented artist, an excellent barber, a videographer, even a past MTV reality TV show celebrity. He was working as the social media manager for a wealthy man in May of 2022. It was easy and lucrative and empty. “I remember the moment.” Travis smiles. “I told my buddy that if I had all that guy’s money, I’d just give it away. It was all so pointless.” In an instant, God convicted those words. “I realized that I wasn’t doing that now, with the money I already had. I probably wouldn’t actually do it with more money.” Travis pitched a crazy idea to his wife, Amber. “I thought for sure she would tell me I had lost my mind and to go to work.” Here, he shakes his head. “She said, ‘Let’s do it.’” Travis quit his job and, on complete faith, began giving money away documenting every interaction with a small camera attached to his body. Six videos a week for four months. “I was spending an average of $1200 a week on people. I was blowing through money, and it was starting to get a little scary.” February & March 2024 61

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IN the fall of 2022, Travis approached a man in

Lakeland’s Munn Park. The man had cancer and needed help badly. Travis himself was at the end of his funds and acting purely on faith that God had his back. The video of this interaction went viral, raising over $10,000 in just days. Worth and Purpose, a 508c1a, exploded its media reach and began to really see the power of video. The aim was to give homelessness a face, a name, a story, and to inspire viewers to act on their convictions in whatever small way they could. Rhonda, Jukebox, Bob, Vern, Lloyd, Rick… video after video, the characters transform from a rejected, homeless face into a human with real thoughts and a very real story.

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Rick has been in a hotel for three months, thanks to Travis Doodles and the crowd-sourced funding of his media followers. Rick’s head has rested on a pillow for over 90 days straight. He has felt the calm that comes from a roof over his head and a hot shower. Rick has space to think about work now. He is clean with a fresh haircut and beard trim. He can do small jobs to make enough to get necessities on his own. He recounts to me the daily struggle of homelessness: “You have to constantly think about how to get your needs met, where to go, how to get there. Your body aches and you aren’t rested. Your brain spins and it's hard to think past the next need. You have one pair of shorts in your backpack, and if someone takes it, you have nothing. Then you can’t even hose off behind a building because you don’t have another pair of bottoms. No one talks to you; it is so lonely. And you know what they think of you when they look at you. People go crazy out there on the streets.”

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Worth and Purpose office space’s centerpiece is “Doodles’ Diner,” a replica of a 1950s-style diner: checkerboard floor, jukebox, red leather booths, laminate table and walls bearing vintage signs, The space is not an actual diner, but is intended for meeting rather than eating.

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THE issue of homelessness

is massive. It is like trying to think about the universe—so complex and so overwhelming that a person just simply chooses not to think about it. Travis Doodles is breaking through that paradigm with a model that makes every person a player in the game of change. Doable donations, ranging from $1 to $100, amass into the funds for campers, hotel rooms, bikes, medical care and more. To love your neighbor is, in fact, a collection of small kindnesses that add up and build on the one before. Travis’ message is simple: It’s cool to love people. It’s cool to be generous. The answer to despair starts with a smile and a conversation. And then, you just love the hell out of people.

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By Ladonna Paedae Rodriguez Photography Lisa Taylor Hall

A kind-hearted person might rescue a horse or two that has been neglected, is injured or simply is no longer wanted. To take responsibility for over 40 endangered horses is more than kind, it is a labor of love. It is a daunting task and Lori Schirard Grubb of Sebring has fully embraced it in a way that the majority of people simply could not. Lori Grubb owns and operates the only local horse sanctuary in Highlands County, The Sanctuary at Horse Hammock. Hailing from a major Florida citrus family, youngsters Lori and her brothers tagged along with their outdoorsman father, exploring, learning and falling in love with nature and God’s animals along the way. Lori began trail riding horses for pleasure as a young girl, and she has grown in her respect for and understanding of the majestic horse over the years as she matured.


Lori's first sanctuary horse Joey

“Every horse has its own story, and every horse teaches me a lesson. “ - Lori Grubb

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got my love of horses from my father, but I like to think I got my desire to care for animals from my mother who was a true example of a life filled with love and service,” she added. Lori began her sanctuary after retiring from River Brite Citrus Sales, part of the family citrus business. She knew that rescuing horses and providing a safe haven for them to live out their lives was to be her new direction, her passion, and her God-given purpose. Said Lori, “My goals are helping unwanted, abused and neglected horses, and I also want to be an advocate for responsible horse ownership.” A determined and grateful Lori said, “I’ve never worked harder or felt more blessed. God finds where your purpose is, and I believe that is where your passion is."

Lori with her father, Brantley Schirard

Her sanctuary mission began with a visit that opened her eyes to the incredible need that existed to care and provide for unwanted, neglected horses. She visited a horse rescue in North Florida, “Horses Without Humans,” and there she met Yvonne Barteau, the founder and executive director of the rescue, who is also a world renowned horse trainer with a passion for at-risk horses. After meeting with Yvonne, Lori had a renewed sense of determination that she could, and would, do whatever she could to help horses in need. From that meeting, she returned home with her first sanctuary horse, “,” who had been neglected and abused by his owner before being seized by law enforcement. Still in Lori’s care, Joey has a peaceful home to live out the rest of his life, and has learned to trust Lori’s sanctuary team, but he still carries the scars of abuse, as he spooks easily.

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Photo from Barteau's film The Boneyard Starved


n May of 2022, Lori partnered with Barteau’s Horses Without Humans to save nearly two dozen horses in a massive rescue operation in Okeechobee— so massive that it was featured in the local and statewide news. These horses were malnourished and abused, and their future looked bleak because most had never been handled by humans and were basically wild. Thankfully, Sheriff Noel Stephen of Okeechobee allowed Barteau to take in all of the horses, which required more than $8,000 worth of medical treatments while in the Sheriff's care. Twenty-three horses survived (including five pregnant mares), made great recoveries, and from that original herd, 14 are now living out their lives at The Sanctuary.

Yvonne Barteau, Horses Without Humans

That led to even more horses being brought to Lori from other rescues who had horses with little or no hope of being adopted. Fortunately she has the land to board and care for them, but the enormity of tending to well over 40 horses cannot be overstated. From veterinary bills, to feed, to grooming, and stall upkeep, there is an endless list of needs to sufficiently care for these horses, many of which are brought to Lori sick, starving and elderly. Lori is quick to add that none of this would be possible without her Sanctuary Team and the family, friends, neighbors and equine professionals who give so much of their time and love to care and provide for them. Lori said, “It is a 24/7, 365 days a year labor of love, and I am beyond grateful and thankful for everyone who plays a part, large or small, to provide for our herd of horses.” As a private foundation, The Sanctuary is not open to the public on a daily basis. However, Lori prayed that God would send her people that could benefit from her mission, and in her words, “Boy did He!” She recalled a time when, while in her pasture, she heard someone who had jumped her fence yell, “Hey, are you Lori Grubb?” The woman visitor introduced herself and explained that she had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer and she was concerned for her three horses. She feared that they would be separated upon her death, or worse, mistreated, or even taken to slaughter, and would Lori please help her. She left the pasture knowing that the sanctuary would take in her horses. Said Lori “It killed her to let them go. She wanted to beat the cancer.” Lori takes comfort in knowing that she brought light into the woman’s last days with her assurance that the horses would not be separated, but indeed would be well-cared for and loved. 75

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ori has established a 501c3 private non-profit corporation which enables her to accept horses from animal control and law enforcement agencies and the like, and to start, among her other goals, a network so that they can combine resources and individual talents to work together to find solutions for reducing the number of unwanted horses. Added Lori, “Horses have meant so much to me my whole life. It is now time to give back and help as many horses as we can at The Sanctuary, who have, through no fault of their own, fallen into harm’s way. But it is not just those horses that need our help. We can all be the voice to raise awareness among horse owners everywhere to be a ‘forever home’ for their own horses, if it is at all possible. All too often, once a horse is no longer ‘rideable,’ the well-intentioned owners will try to find another home for it, and sell it or give it away, and eventually they lose track of the horse. Their once beloved horse is all too often left to an unimaginable end. If circumstances make it impossible to keep them, it should be a priority for all of us, as responsible horse owners, to make certain to find that forever home for them no matter how long it takes, and make sure we don’t lose contact with them. We all owe the horses, who gave so much to us, a loving and safe home until the very end.” Lori is now firming up plans to accept volunteer help for things such as grooming and bathing horses, stall cleanup, and helping to maintain pastures and barns. The need is significant, given the sheer numbers of horses she cares for. She welcomes donations and assures that any donation will directly benefit the horses she cares for at The Sanctuary at Horse Hammock.

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Photo from Heartland Living Magazine August 2020 Issue

Dr. Liz Steele, DVM and TJ Steele of Steele Equine

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eterinarian Liz Steele of Steele Equine, Lori’s long-time friend, recently built a state-of-art facility complete with two surgery rooms, a water walker and treadmills. Noted Lori, “We are so blessed to have an incredibly compassionate and knowledgeable veterinarian along with her incredible team. And to top it all off, Steele Equine is located within 15 miles of our sanctuary. We simply couldn’t do any of what we are able to do for our horses without their professional care and guidance.” Regarding the Sanctuary at Horse Hammock, Dr. Steele relayed that, “The Sanctuary is simply ‘Heaven on Earth’ for horses. As an Equine Veterinarian for almost two decades, I can attest to the quality care, attention and outpouring of love offered to each horse under their care. Peace, hope and love fill the equine atmosphere for the many deserving horses.”


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Her passion for horses and her determination to help as many as possible was palpable as Lori added, “The hardest part of what we all have to do is to say goodbye. It doesn’t matter how long they are with us, or how many times we go through it. It never gets any easier when you lose one, and since most of our horses come in as seniors or with medical issues, we are never guaranteed as much time as we would like. But of all the many things I have learned from Liz through the years, the most important is knowing when to make that painful decision so they can be pain-free. It brings us peace knowing that there was nothing that we hadn't done for them.”

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863-386-1177 “Every horse has its own story, and every horse teaches me a lesson. I benefit so much. To have the resources to do this, to house and feed these horses, is a blessing,” she added. Truly the blessing is Lori Schirard Grubb, who humbly and without the desire for attention (other than for the benefit of the horses) gives these majestic creatures sanctuary. They have become her sanctuary as well. To contact Lori, email her at Lori@sanctuaryhorse.org. Visit her website at www.sanctuaryhorse.org.

935 Sebring Square - Sebring, FL February & March 2024 79

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“I’ve never worked harder or felt more blessed. God finds where your purpose is, and I believe that is where your passion is.“ - Lori Grubb

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Story and Photography by Caroline Maxcy Fox

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I’m giving you a formula at the end of this article that is guaranteed to work for New Year’s planning success. But first I’m going to tell you a story about how it didn’t. How this year, in those first hazy days of 2024, the tried-and-true, fail-proof formula failed me. And this all begins with another fail-proof formula for processing things. It involves:

#1 Solitude #2 Uninterrupted time #3 Shimmering daylight Give me those three things, and my scattered thoughts start to click into place, my mind starts to actually work. I can process and grow. I can write and create and brainstorm with the best of them. I could conquer the world with enough of it, I truly believe. But the three seem to be quite elusive. Especially in the last three years since becoming a work-from-home parent to my toddler, Norah. And to find them in unison is nearly impossible. So here at the beginning of 2024, I’m trying my hardest to pivot. To seek out nearly perfect scenarios and roll with it, if you will. How do I find solitude in the presence of others? Noise canceling headphones help. How do I carve out large amounts of time where it doesn’t appear to exist? It seems, if you squint, you can find the time in tiny increments between all the other things pressing in. How do I learn to think in the dark? Seek the magic of the daylight beyond the horizon. The Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador (1917 - 1980) said,

“Christianity discerns that beyond the night The dawn already glows. The hope that does not fail is carried in the heart. Christ goes with us!” Now I can’t stop thinking of the dawn glowing beyond the inky black horizon of night. And somehow, by some miracle, outside of the laws of my fail-proof formula, I’m writing this in the dark.

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It was that first week of the New Year,

that time of year when you’re not ever really sure what day it is. We were on a trip to Tennessee to visit my husband Devon’s side of the family, then hit the road to visit with my side. Between the two was a winding road, a national forest, a state line and a mountaintop. On the two-hour trip from valley to valley, we climbed our way up and over a snowy mountain range. As we got higher the light grew brighter, the air grew thinner, the sky grew bluer, the dusting of snow grew deeper, the road grew quieter. We stepped out of the car at the peak and into a crisp silence. We formed a snowball or two in our bare hands. Not another traveler to be seen. I took a deep breath of the crisp clean air and paused. Solitude. We threw our snowballs at the earth and climbed back into the warm comfort of the car and started the slow descent back to the valley floor. I put on my headphones playing soft piano music and relished the uninterrupted time to think. I used to hate winter and its wintery scenes, all barren and such. Twiggy brown branches grasping towards a gray sky. But then I moved a bit further north for a time and learned the pure joy of spring. The trees bursting with color and pillowy blooms. What was once tucked beneath a dusting of snow and gray is now carrying new, vibrant life. I’m grateful for it now. I can’t stop thinking about the dawn of spring glowing beyond the dull gray horizon before me. The magic of the shimmering daylight found in the bleak mid winter dark. 89


After the snowy mountain top trip

we come home to Florida where nestled amidst the pines and palms we catch flashes of fiery red and brilliant yellow leaves still loosely clinging to twisted branches stretching towards the heavens. A handful of the trees are finally reaching that seasonal moment, far behind the rest of the country, where they show us how beautiful it can be to let things go.

And this is where my fail-proof plan goes off the rails. Every year as the calendar flips, in the first fresh days, I steal away moments to pause and ponder, reflect and journal, refocus and refresh, resolve and dream and plan. It goes a little like this:

#1 Reflect #2 Refocus #3 Resolve I ask myself a few questions along the way with the help of a few guides and gurus. Including Jenn Barrett’s “Reflect and Refocus Worksheets” and Emily P. Freeman’s “The Next Right Thing Guided Journal” (message me and I’ll send along the links). The basis of it is… This past year where did you find joy? Where did you find frustration? And how can you implement (and de-implement) a few of those things into your new year?

You start first by looking back. I flip through the pages of my 2023 journal filled with so many delightful things. There was a wonderful momentum. And then this fall a car pulled out in front of me on a back road, and we collided. My car careened off the side of the road and into a ditch, now totaled. I walked away that day with just a few bumps and bruises, but desperately clutching my newly pregnant baby bump. The very next day we began miscarrying what would have been our second-born. I can’t think back to this year without getting stuck on that October day. That week that ushered tragedy and heartbreak into our lives again. That moment when everything changed.

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www.solomonscastle.com February & March 2024 91


We know the Lord is good and His plans

are perfect. We always, always want to be right in the center of those perfect plans even when we don’t understand. We hold hope deferred in our arms each day with our healthy toddler who we found out we were pregnant with in 2020 just months after miscarrying our first. We also know the Lord is still good when His plan doesn’t ever include the things we desire, when they don’t put healthy babies in our arms with foreheads to kiss. When we don’t walk away from accidents. When we don’t get the news we wanted at the doctor’s office. But I’m getting stuck there. Pulled like a magnet every time I try to reflect.

And then I pray, “Lord help me.” Moment’s later His Word, hidden in my heart, memorized nearly decade ago in a different trying season, gently speaks to me again…

“Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.”

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And I realized the sweet Lord was calling me out of the wilderness once again and showing me the way. I had to let go of reflecting this time. The fail-proof plan was actually failing me. And I felt the Lord giving me permission to stop living there, in the stuck, and move on. So I’m setting it aside. Just crossing that part off of the list and looking forward. I suddenly feel light again. Like taking a crisp clean breath of mountain top air.

To 2024: I see you. My eyes are turned towards the cleared path in the wild woods like a quiet winding road over a wintertime mountain top. My hope is turned towards Jesus. And my heart is turned towards the something new He longs to do. I hope your heart is, too.

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I don’t know where you may stand in these fresh first months of the new year. Maybe reflecting would be productive and prosperous. Or maybe, like me this year, you just need to take a deep cleansing breath, exhale 2023 and turn your gaze towards the future this time. But either way the time spent in thought is worth it. So here are a few of my favorite questions to consider:

If the last year could be summed up in one word, what would it be? What brought you joy, excitement or fun this year? A relationship, an experience, anything unexpected… What worked for you this year? A habit, new routine, new rhythm… What didn’t work for you? What do you need to let go of? What’s a goal from last year you accomplished? What’s a goal still yet to be accomplished? What friendships/relationships were life-giving? What friendships/relationships were life-draining? If those who know me best gave me one piece of advice, what would they say? What ideas keep you up at night? What were some major life lessons I learned this year? In what area of your life would you like to grow this year? What is the single biggest time-waster in my life, and what will I do about it this year? List 5 things you want to do this year. What’s the most important way I will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year? What single thing that I plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity? What do I want the theme of 2024 to be?

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February & March 2024


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February & March 2024 97

By Cindy Adams

Valentine's Day Meal At Home


Trying to get a dinner reservation for February 14th at the most popular restaurant in town? Not so much. There’s one table that doesn’t require a reservation on Valentine’s Day: yours! Luckily, you don’t need to go out to have a memorable meal. If you’re planning a night in with your sweetie, these delicious dishes will make your meal just as memorable as if you had gone out. Try this easy meal of Garlic Butter Salmon with Garlic Roasted Potatoes and Lemon Parmesan Asparagus. Then end the evening with a romantic Valentine’s Day Chocolate Martini Cocktail and you’re sure to fall in love.


1/2 cup unsalted melted butter 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 tablespoon lemon juice 2 cloves minced garlic 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste 2 pounds salmon 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. 2. In a small bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. 3. Place salmon onto prepared baking sheet and fold up all 4 sides of the foil. Spoon the butter mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the salmon, covering completely and sealing the packet closed. 4. Place into oven and bake until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. 99

Crispy Garlic Roasted Potatoes are a super simple side dish perfect with anything! Buttery, garlicky, fluffy inside with crisp, golden edges potatoes.


1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved (or Yukon golds or halved white/red baby potatoes) 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 6 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley


1.Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly spray a baking sheet or tray with cooking oil spray. 2. Arrange potatoes on sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic. Toss so potatoes are evenly seasoned. 3. Roast in the oven for 4555 minutes while flipping occasionally, until crisp and golden. 4. Remove the potatoes from the oven and season with a little extra salt and pepper to taste.



1 pound asparagus, trimmed 2 tablespoons olive oil Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste 3 cloves garlic, pressed Juice of 1 lemon, or more, to taste 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet 2. Place asparagus in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, gently toss to combine. Place into oven and roast about 10 minutes, until tender and crisp. Toss with garlic, lemon juice and Parmesan and serve immediately.


l INGREDIENTS Easy Chocolate Ganache 5 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate ½ cup heavy cream Chocolate Martini 4 ounces vodka 4 ounces Bailey's Irish Cream liqueur 4 ounces chocolate liqueur 1 cup ice Shaved bittersweet chocolate, optional garnish


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104 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com


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www. Floridahuntingoutfitter.com 106 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

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