It’s Sunday morning and as I write this the church bells are ringing here in my little German village. It’s one of my favorite things about Europe – the bells.
For this journal I don’t have any particular European experiences to relate, despite the previous journals about the build-up of the Christmas season. This year I spent the Christmas holidays in Florida, so I’ll tell you about that.
I flew on the 15th of December and had just enough time to catch my breath before my husband and I boarded the worthy, seagoing vessel of our friends Audrey and Dick for the annual boat parade. Boat parades are particular to coastal areas, and I never heard of them until I moved to Florida. Since I grew up in landlocked Indiana, they are a treat for me. I’ve seen several, but I’d never been in one before.
We boarded the handsomely decorated boat just at sunset:
The crew donned the proper uniforms:
Under a full moon, we collected with other decorated boats and formed a line. We weaved in and out of the canals along the coast in Audrey and Dick’s neighborhood. It was very chilly, but the festive spirits were high. People had gathered along the backyards along the canals and we shouted, “Merry Christmas!” back and forth across the water to each other during the entire parade. It was interesting that we couldn’t really see the audience!
Suddenly a thick fog creeped in, making it hard for Captain Dick to see. He deftly steered us out of harm’s way, though, and we completed our journey. The fog lifted just as suddenly near the end of the parade. We sat in the docked boat for a few hours after the parade chatting and catching up. We SO enjoy spending time with this group! You’ll see them again later for a New Year’s party!
I have written here and on my freelance site about my hand-carved wood nativity set from northern Italy. It’s LEPI from Val Gardena
. One of the treats of my trip was setting it up for the holiday season and adding the three soldiers I had bought this year. Here’s the collection so far:
During my trip I made several trips to my friend Lauren’s house. She is the one who dips my quilled creations in clear acrylic and makes jewelry and window hangings out of them to sell
. Lauren is from Maine and has retained a lot of her New England flare. She decorates her house like no one else for the holidays. Here is but one of her Christmas trees. The luscious buffet beneath it was for a small get-together she hosted in my honor! The food was even more delicious than the decorations! Check out her Parsimonious Cookery Book blog
. She is one of the best cooks I know!
There are so many things I did during my trip. I visited my friend Ralph’s Old Time Radio group’s rehearsals a few times. They read radio scripts and perform the readings for senior groups and other events in the area. I was part of the group when I was gallery director before taking off for Europe. Ralph is one of those people who I want to be when I grow up!
I was introduced to Sugar Darlings cupcakes by my good friend Spellbinding Sherry. They were so good I got them for my birthday instead of a cake.
Our good friends Bob and Sharon took me and my husband out for my birthday dinner at a lovely little restaurant called Oscar’s in St. Pete Beach. There was delicious food and live jazz piano music. The next weekend the four of us spent Sunday at Safety Harbor Spa where we dived into the Sunday brunch and enjoyed the relaxing services. What a day! I’d highly recommend their brunch for Mother’s Day.
My best friend Cheryl came to visit for four days over the New Year weekend, and of course we did our usual trip to Tarpon Springs. We always have a Greek lunch and visit the handmade soap shop. She got me the coolest Christmas present: a set of handcarved wooden stamps – one of which is a camel!
I spent the day with another good friend Carolyn – we always do lunch then visit Mazarro in St. Pete. Mazarro is an Italian market which started out as a coffee roasting business. They have painted the outside to look like Italian street scenes, complete with the old dowager staring out the window from the second story. Inside there is a fresh market, butcher counter, wine and cheese shop, coffee bar, olive bar, deli, you name it! It’s like a trip to Europe!
My husband and I spent Christmas Eve with our good friends Joe and Jenny and their large extended family. This is a yearly ritual. There were three babies we hadn’t met yet and fabulous food. It’s a noisy Italian family from New Jersey and lots of fun! Later in the trip we were able to have a quieter dinner with just Joe and Jenny just before I left. Such a pleasant evening!
For Christmas dinner we hosted the family next door. That isn’t exactly right – Debbie and her daughter Jessica cooked at least half of the food and helped me set up. We all gathered at our house for the meal. I got to try out my new All-Clad roasting pan for the turkey!
For New Year’s Eve, our friends Cyndie and Bram hosted their annual party. Here is a photo from shortly after midnight:
On New Year’s Day my husband, Cheryl and I visited our favorite local park. Here is dead-of-winter in Florida:
In the late-afternoon of New Year’s Day we all went to visit our good friends Brent and John who served us some hair of the dog and fantastic good-luck-in-the-new-year food.
Later that week my good friend Judy, who I also want to be when I grow up, treated me to lunch in a new restaurant in Tarpon Springs.
There were many other get-togethers with friends, too. Although I prefer living in Europe, I must admit that visiting Florida is such a treat now! My friends are always so eager to get us all together. It was a grand trip with much laughter and fun. I want to send a heartfelt thank-you to all of them. XOXO!
Photo for No Apparent Reason: