Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Preparing Christmas Eve Dinner

This is why I took two days off. I debated and almost took only one but shopping alone took abut 5 hours today because I had to go to multiple stores and they were BUSY.
Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas Eve and day and that you get to spend it with those you love and who care for you. Jerry and I had many alone holidays and I am sure enjoying living near family and sharing special times.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Annual Christmas Photo Fail

I gave it a good try and these are the best of the best. The dogs were not very cooperative. Luckily, Pet Food Warehouse did photos with Santa on Saturday so I expect we will get a frame worthy photo afterall.

Diamond's eyes are firmly planted on the treat in my hand.

Eddie has to be photoed last because he typically tears up the photo shoot setups.

Not a happy camper. Poor Lani doesn't jnow the sit or down commands so it was very difficult and she thought I was being mean.

A little banner of the best 3 head shots.

And now, the annual collage of tree and dogs. Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

More Neon, This Time 34th Street

Well, I made it up and down 34th street late this afternoon and got a few more photos of old neon signs. There used to be a couple more so I'm glad I got these wen I did.

This one is well maintained.

My favorite and the inspiration for these photos and posts.

In case you can't read it, it's Venice Motel

Neon Signs, 4th Street, St Petersburg

When we first moved to the St Petersburg area, I was fascinated with the vintage neon signs. These signs, with their exterior illumination of neon tubes, wouldn't have survived long in Alaska. I've always told myself to photo them some day because some have disappeared to progress since we've been here. Well, today was a start. I drove up and down 4th street north and took photos.

The Banyan Tree motel

China City restaurant

El Cap hamburger joint

The Kentucky Motel - can't help but think there may have been a painting in the center of this sign at one time.

The Landmark Motel

Not sure if this sign is vintage or if it is just well kept/preserved but it does have exterior neon.
 And finally, the most impressive Sunken Gardens sign. It's the largest one I know of and I love how the flowers awe outlined in neon. I've seen this one at dusk and it's impressive.

My next task is to photo more on 34th street. There's one there that I really like.

Office Tree

I did our office tree again this year with the help of my Manager. This photo was taken with office lights out.
My funny coworker Christina pretending to trim the tree.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tree Is Up - It's For The Birds!

 It's up and decorated with a bird theme. A few balls, snowflakes, a couple squirrels because they remind me of raiding bird feeders, birds, bird houses, bird nests, etc.
So fun to pull out my quilted bird tree skirt that I seldom use but love. 
 First time to use the frosty bird house tree topper. I found it at Cracker Barrel at a Christmas clearance a year or two ago. I have been planning this tree for a few years.
 The squirrel! Also a Cracker Barrel find.
 Tiny little birds nest with eggs. I have a beautiful big one but it didn't photo well.
I bought a couple felted bird houses and a few knitted birds from this collection at a Christmas clearance at Macy's or Dillard's a few years ago. It was a very Scandinavian looking collection. Scandinavian design just screams Christmas to me.

One of my favorite ornaments from a dear friend Tracie. It's a tiny bird feeder, about two inches high, and filled with millet. I've had it a long time which is amazing because it's so small it's almost been thrown out with the tree a couple times.
One of the few touristy souvenirs I have from Alaska but I love it and it's perfect for my bird tree. I've done a bird tree years ago, in Alaska, when we did live trees. I need so many more ornaments with the big artificial trees that I had to collect a few more to do it again.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Tree, Part 1

So, this year I wanted to use Marge's tree. She always used a tree with multi color lights ad we always use clear so I thought it would be a nice change and way to remember her on our first Christmas without her. I had this planned since we cleaned out her ALF room and brought the tree home.

Well, the best of plans. The tree would not light up. We tried everything including changes the fuses. I didn't want to give up on the colored light idea and I was looking forward to working with a smaller tree (ours is 9.5 ft) so there was less on and off the ladder. So, long story short, I bought a new tree at Costco. I guess this means we now have 3 - one is a gorgeous commercial sized tree where you have to assemble every branch and add lights (not), the 9.5 with clear that needs quite a bit of straightening out and is hard to assemble the 4 pieces, and now the new tree. Purchased at Costco last night its only 7.5, there are no plugs to connect the sections of lights (when you join the tree sections the lights automatically connect), and the branches are a rubbery consistency where they really don't get pressed down much. It's an easy, easy tree in comparison. Plus, it has this added feature where you can choose between multi-color lights, clear lights, or a never ending changing of the two.
The color stage.....wait a few seconds and presto chango.......now it's clear lights!

I spent last night watching Christmas movies and filling out my Christmas cards. I got them all done and then realized the envelopes ALL say "may require additional postage". Yikes! The post office (or the people who will be in line behind me) is not going to be too happy with me. I put them in zip code order hoping that will lessen the blow.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Break

At my work place we traded Columbus day for the day after Thanksgiving meaning I get a four days off in a row. Initially I scheduled Wednesday off because I volunteered to cook the Thanksgiving feast; however, my cousin Sonya in Lakeland wanted everyone to come to her house. This worked out great because the plague hit my work and we were crippled by low attendance at work so taking Wednesday off would have been canceled anyway. (Really low, like only 32% of people one day.)Well, the plague hopped from work to friends and family because cousin Lea was too sick to drive over to Lakeland so thanksgiving dinner was moved to cousin Erica's which was OK by me because she only lives 10 minutes away. Sadly, Lea still wasn't up to joining us but Erica was able to invite her neighbor who lost his wife a couple years ago AND Aunt Mary joined us.
Aunt Mary & mom in front, cousins Sonya & Erica in back
Uncle Larry and cousin Lea's husband Don (Sonya & Erica's dad)
Gathering to say the blessing so we could eat! Erica's neighbor BJ, hubby Jerry, Uncle Larry, Erica's coworker Aaron and her sister Kelly, Sonya and her husband Tommy, Erica's daughter Sarah, and mom and Erica in the foreground with their backs to me.
We had a traditional thanksgiving feast of turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, dressing, deviled eggs, cranberries, desserts corn plus a tasty Indian rice dish brought by Erica's neighbor.
The next day mom and I cooked a turkey with the all the fixing again at my house so that we had leftovers. This has become a tradition to redo Thanksgiving if we go somewhere. Jerry loves cold turkey sandwiches and I love figuring out new leftover turkey recipes each year. We had one of Jerry's coworkers over since he's in retail and they and they had to work the Friday following thanksgiving.

Hope yours was great and spent with those important to you. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Free Art Friday! Take Me!

And that's what the sign attached to this artwork said. I found it on a tree at the open air post office in St Petersburg. Others looked at it but didn't take. the weather was starting to turn and I just couldn't leave her.

Reading the attached sign it encouraged a person to take and enjoy the art but to only take 1 (apparently there were many different pieces placed around town) and to post your find on social media so the artist could see their work had a home.

Cool concept. Good ending to a stressful Friday.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Loy Krathong Festival, Tampa 2014

I got an invite to the Loi Krathong festival a year ago and yesterday morning I discovered that "today was the day!" I quickly YouTubed it to figure out how to make a krathong and ran to Michael's and my back yard for supplies.

Basically I need Styrofoam bases, pins, candles. I didn't know I also needed incense.

I didn't have the heart to cut up my banana tree or strip it of it's only 4 leaves so I used giant bird of paradise leaves which are plentiful and sometimes annoying in my back yard. Basically you cut and/or fold the large leaves to cover the base and then create a lotus flower design of triangles.

I didn't know how to make the folded parts stand up to form a basket so I made the hill & valley border which worked great for securing flowers. Here I was already to add candles and flowers and say it was finished when I looked outside and an Areca Palm was calling to me.

So I cut a palm leave and then worked out a way to incorporate it and create an even deeper basket. All the while watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel.

I then put dendrobian orchid blooms into the loops and secured crinum lily blooms and candles onto to skewers and stuck them in. Krathong #1 finished!
I had lots of materials left over so I made a second but smaller and simpler krathong because I was running out of time. I used a tea light in this one so I tested it to make sure it worked (sometimes they don't).
Here they are packed in a tub and ready to transport. Notice I took extra candles, flowers, and lighter just in case.

I met up with a coworker and her girl friend so we could take only one car to the temple grounds. When we arrived at watmongkolratanaram we were early and took advantage of the short lines at the food vendors and enjoyed steaming bowls of noodle soup. So good. 

Now that is a krathong masterpiece!

Cute little boy very anxious to launch his krathong.

My friend Tip & Corrine near the giant krathong made mostly of flowers.

The temple grounds are on the Plant River and this is looking out from the sea wall to the T-shaped dock. Notice the end of the dock has stairs into the water for launch krathong. Also, there is an inflatable krathong and two dragons in the water. Everything was covered in Christmas lights and was quite beautiful and magical.

The temple exterior.

Shot inside temple. I wanted to take more photos, and others were, but I was uncomfortable taking photos like a tourist when others were engaged in religious activity.

Tip and I trying to keep our krathongs lit in the wind. Next year, electric tea lite candles. Not only will they stay lit all night but they won't cause a fire - yup, one of the krathong went up in flames and took a few others out with it. The monks had to use the water hose to put out the inferno under the bridge at one point.

On the left is Carrina's krathong which she purchased on the grounds. Most of those purchased are made of paper (might be why there was a fire - fire + paper + wind) and mine. Tip bought incense for us because that is an important part of it that I somehow missed on the You Tube video.

Tip with the krahtong I made for her and it's all lit up!

Because they cannot actually be released "into the wild" there are barriers around the area to keep the krathongs from polluting the river and for allowing fire to float around the river. As a result, on a windy night they raft up creating a beautiful landscape of krathong.

Carrina is about to release her worries and problems and start the new year clean.

There they go!

Tip doing the same.

Letting go.

The girls on the dock.

Oops. I should have turned the photo. We took this on the bridge part of the dock after our krathongs had floated around and rafted up with the others. My little one is second from the right on the top row, carrina's is to the left of it, and you can see half of Tip's in the top center - the palm leaves look like spider legs at this point.

Close up showing the beautiful colors and designs. Mine is the little one that looks like an African violet but with a tea light candle in the middle, and Carrina's yellow and orange one right above it.

From the other side of the bridge we watched other release theirs.

Love these close ups.

This was a very special one made of woven greenery and a monk assisted with this launch.

This photo does not do justice to the beauty and magic of this view. The bridge/raft was lit with white lights reflecting off the water and the krathongs floated by, went under the bridge, and then rafted up. Right after taking this photo we heard a loud crack and a portion of the bridge broke and people fell into the water. Luckily they were not hurt, only wet. The folks beyond the break were stranded for about a half hour until the fire department brought a plank. After that folks brought their krathongs to the bridge and one person took them and handed them off to someone at the water level and he launched them.

We went into the recreation center and watched some of the entertainment and bought some freshly made summer rolls with peanut sauce. We left before the beauty pageant started because it was raining pretty heavily and we were getting cold. Tip was telling us she was in that pageant when she was a teenager. It was a great night despite the wind, rain, fire, and bridge collapse. Oh, and we got lost on the way home but it was funny because we drove through the airport terminal. Every time you are in the area the roads have changed!

Neighborhood Muscovy

Broke Wing So, back in March a mama Muscovy showed up with 14 ducklings in the pond across the street. These ponds are retention pond...