December 26, 2012

A Floridian Christmas

Growing up, we didn't know Christmas without snow. And imagining such a Christmas was impossible. Christmas without snow?! That's no Christmas at all! And while I admit that there's no doubt something special about snow at Christmas, and being bundled up by the fire Christmas morning while you open your presents, I can also admit that I did not miss the snow one iota this Christmas. Floridians embrace the magic of Christmas just as much as us cold people up North. The only difference is, you can wear flip flops while out enjoying the Christmas festivities down here.

King's Gate Club goes all out at Christmas. The homes are decorated with lights. The pool is decked out  with lights. The draw bridge is dressed with lights (yes, there is a draw bridge!) and on Christmas Eve, the entire complex is lit up by luminaries. It was absolutely magical and never once did I think to myself, it doesn't feel like Christmas here. (Unfortunately, my photos do not do the magic justice).

Just hangin' out in the manger with baby Jesus.

The theme of this Christmas was definitely LIGHTS. We started out on Friday night by visiting a home open to the public that puts up hundreds of light displays. You walk through their large yard at your own leisure and admire all the different lights. Then just down the road, there's another home that has a HUGE, miniature winter village set up in their garage. (*Ahem*  - I LOVE all things miniature). It was absolutely amazing and I could have looked at it for hours.

The day before Christmas Eve, every home in the club was delivered luminaries to set out the next night. For anyone not spending Christmas in the club, their neighbours put out and lit their luminaries for them. The luminaries were white paper bags filled with a bit of sand and then a candle inside. This was probably my most favourite light related thing I've ever seen. It was a beautiful, calm night on Christmas Eve and it was so pretty walking the streets around the club amidst the path of lights. The luminaries burn well into the night and then they are gone by morning which adds even more magic to the whole event.

The luminaries - all 1200 of them - were lined up on both sides of the roads in the club.

We spent Christmas day with lots of family and we all enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner that everyone pitched in to make. Jim's aunt and uncle, Ethel and Keith also have a home in the club here, as do Keith's sister and family. While my family and Jim's sister, brother-in-law and nephews were all tremendously missed, it was a lovely day spent with people we love.

The beautiful table set by Jim's aunt, Ethel.

Jim and Ethel; me and my father-in-law, John; John and Jim's cousin, Laura.

Full bellies for everyone!

To all my family and friends: Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day! I hope your Christmases were wonderful, wherever they may have been spent! 

December 20, 2012

Hellooooo, Florida!

It's very easy to lose track of time in Florida. Especially when one is on vacation in Florida. I only today realized that the date is December 20th, and if the Mayans end up being right, this could be my last day to post on my blog. So I figured I should let me family and friends know what I've been up to since we left the cold, snow-ridden North, for sunny Florida.

In a lot of ways, this vacation resembles the one we took in Nova Scotia back in September. Except this time we are in Florida. And it's warmer outside. And the shopping is pretty awesome. We caught a red-eye to Tampa Bay, Florida on Saturday night, even though Jim swore he would never do another red-eye after our last one to Nova Scotia. But money talks and the price of the flight was right.

As much as I love visiting my in-laws in Nova Scotia, it's pretty awesome that they now also have a place down in Florida where we can visit them. Jim's parent's having only moved in a month ago, we wasted no time getting our butts down here to share in the Florida way of life. Since we've arrived, a good portion of our days have been spent by the pool. Today we switched it up and went to the beach first and then to the pool afterwards.

It's hard to believe that less than a week ago this is what greeted me out my back door:

This has been my view for a few good hours everyday since arriving in Florida:

Jim's parents bought a house in a retirement community down here, and while sometimes it reminds me of the book/movie, In Her Shoes, it's really a fun, outgoing place. There's always something going on and everyone is so friendly. So far, since we've arrived, we've attended a race boat regala at the pool, played BINGO, played pool, and witnessed a parade of Christmas decorated golf carts, followed by cookies and tea in the main club room. We've also made numerous trips out to the nearby stores. Everything always seems more exciting and better when you're shopping in the states. For example, for most of my life, we've only had (as far as I've been aware) regular M&M's and peanut M&M's, with more recently mint and coconut. BUT HERE, I've seen, regular, dark chocolate, white chocolate, white chocolate peppermint, mint, coconut, almond, and peanut. It's insane and I get way too excited over these little things!

I'm going to eat all of you delicious M&M's.

So much like our trip to Nova Scotia, a good chunk of our mornings are spent reading. This is the first time I can remember flying and NOT reading a book. Not because I didn't want to, but because I was actually able to somewhat sleep on the plane. But as soon as we got here I started The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough. This book was originally on my Fall TBR list, but I never got around to reading it. Partly because I didn't think I would like it, but mostly because it's almost 700 pages and 700 PAGES! But I am absolutely loving it. It's been a long time since I've read such a long, exciting drama of a novel. The book follows the Cleary family starting in 1915 when they are living in New Zealand, barely making ends meet on their sheep farm, to their voyage and life in Australia. I'm only half way done and fully immersed in the life if the Cleary's. My mother-in-law (who originally gave me the book) told me yesterday that the book was made into a television mini-series so now I cannot wait to also watch that. If I can find it of course.

Nokomis Beach, Florida

P.S. Technically it is now 12:12 in Florida and the world has not ended. Although a torrential down-pour, complete with thunder and lightening did just start. Which is kind of creepy, no? But anyway. Still alive. So I'll be back soon with more pictures...and more book talk. Right, I should probably talk a bit more about books.

December 02, 2012

Saigon Sundays: New Shoes

Confession: Jim and I are totally those people who buy booties (mukluks) and coats for their dog. Saigon may be 80 pounds, but he's got little paws and a really short coat. He often can't get through a walk in the winter without favoring his paws, holding them up for a few seconds at a time to get them off the snow. Since he had his stroke last year, his bad leg has a hard time keeping grip on the slippery sidewalks, so booties really help his leg from sliding out all over the place. Not to mention, the booties prevent him from coming home and licking his paws like crazy after the walk, making them even more raw. And really, he just looks so darn cute in them!

This isn't the first winter he's worn boots, but you wouldn't know it from the way he walks when you first put them on him. It's really quite hilarious and Jim was able to catch a quick video of Saigon prancing around the house in them. Saigon also makes sure to let us know what he really thinks of his new boots at the end of the video. Priceless.