Friday, December 28, 2018

Christmas in the City

 

 

We had a whirlwind Christmas in Michigan with four busy, but very fun days. A lot of family time, wonderful meals, cookies, good wine, martinis, music, games and safe travels from the east side of the state, to the west side and then back again. The majority of our visit was spent in Grand Rapids with our daughters, son in law and Megan's new in laws who have become both friends and family. We traveled quite a few miles by car and walked around the city even more. Coats, scarves and gloves were worn by this Florida resident, but the temperatures hovered right around freezing, so it wasn't too bad and the only snow we saw was (appropriately) a few pretty flakes on Christmas morning.

We usually spend our time in the suburbs, but this holiday, were able to experience a Christmas in the city (Grand Rapids) and it was very special. The decorations and lights were so beautiful to see, both walking around and from the 22nd floor condo we stayed in. It was a Merry Christmas indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

No photos of our Saturday night, welcome to Grand Rapids dinner at Wheelhouse Kitchen, but the next morning we went back to the location of Megan and Adam's wedding reception for brunch. The Grand Rapids Downtown Market was beautifully decorated for Christmas, but it also brought back so many wonderful memories of that joyful August day. There was a Bloody Mary bar at the restaurant ( Social Kitchen) and that always makes me a happy girl.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Eve Brunch - my side of the family. My parents were able to come to my sister's home from the nearby assisted living facility were they reside, so that made the day even more special.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Eve - music, Christmas lights, a good bottle of wine and a delicious prime rib dinner, all enjoyed overlooking the city views. And, there were (big) Godiva chocolate martinis involved, hence the silly photo.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Day started with breakfast and presents in Grand Rapids and ended at a casual holiday gathering with my husband's side of the family, back in the Detroit area. It's always a fun time and as usual we played a game that got everyone involved and a little loud too.

As you read this, I am back in the sunshine and hoping the next time I see everyone will be when the spring time visits to Florida start happening soon.

Have a wonderful weekend and New Year's celebration.

 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Oh Christmas Tree (and Christmas Card)

 

 

 

 

 

 

After moving to Florida and all the work of downsizing, I fight against bringing too much into the house again. It is especially tempting at Christmas and I have to make myself not go to Hobby Lobby. So far, I think I've been able to achieve a pretty good balance and really concentrate on the tree and the most sentimental and favorite items. I still put out my snow globe collection, but only the most special to me. Our nativity was my husband's mothers and it will always have a place in my home. And because every thing old is new again, my ceramic Christmas tree that was a wedding gift in 1982, is now coveted by all the millennials. The big change is that it's outside on my lanai.

My tree is new and much smaller than the tree I had in Michigan, where it needed to have height and drama in my foyer with a two story ceiling. I find this smaller tree perfect for this downsized house and so simple to decorate. My tree will never be pinterest worthy, but every ornament has a memory and that's how we like it. My favorite new ornament is a gift from my daughter and new son in law. It's a clear glass ball with their wedding invitation cut in strips and placed inside. I know, right!?

I do make my tree pretty and sparkle a bit by adding red and gold glass balls and silver and gold garland. To give it a touch of the coastal decor I use in my Florida home, I added a large starfish at the top and other large starfish scattered throughout the branches. This year I also added some small tourquoise ornaments and next year will look to add some large glass balls in the same color.

 

 

This was a special year for our family and my Christmas card reflects the joy in our daughter's wedding. Merry Christmas to all you lovely readers and I'll see you after the holidays.

 

Monday, December 17, 2018

All Things Christmas In Photos

 

 

One of the best things about having to ship Christmas presents is that it forces you to get all your shopping and wrapping done early. So, I was free this past weekend to really relax and soak in all things Christmas. There was a little baking, a lot of Christmas music played, some pool time, but most of all, Christmas lights in various ways. I hope you all can finish your lists, wind down all the hustle and bustle and find the joy in the season too.

 

 

 

Christmas lights Florida style. This is the University Town Center area in Sarasota and this is just a small sample of the hundreds of palm trees lit for the season.

 

1st Annual Christmas Glow Ride in my neighborhood. I don't bike, but there is a riding group that is quite adventurous (they usually ride 30+ miles) and they had a lot of fun spreading Christmas cheer.

 

Some Cranberry Apple and Ginger Chutney has been in my fridge since Thanksgiving and I found this great muffin recipe to use it up. Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins are both genius and delicious.

 

Beautiful pool day on December 16th. I was pretty happy in my chair, reading Gone with the Wind for maybe the 6th or 7th time and enjoying the sunshine sparkling on the water and the palm trees swaying in the breeze.

 

 

Downtown Venice - Florida style Christmas lights, round 2. This was my view after mass Sunday night.

Happy Monday!

 

{ Linking with these friends}

Savvy Southern Style

Between Naps on the Porch

21 Rosemary Lane

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Road Trip

 

 

 

Any Florida Gator alumni or fans reading today? On Saturday, we took a road trip to Gainsville for the MSU versus University of Florida basketball game. When we were living in Michigan, though we didn't have season tickets for basketball, we still made it to quite a few games. There is nothing like being at the Breslin Center, with the crazy Izzone, but experiencing a different basketball arena and its loud student section was a lot of fun too.

 

 
 

 

 

It was a noon game and a three hour drive, so we left early, got coffee for the road and made it in plenty of time to park and walk a bit around campus. I do love seeing a college campus for the first time and there is always great energy as you walk around. I was proudly wearing my green and white and found a lot of fellow Spartans also enjoying the campus before the game. And, all good Spartans know to say "Go Green" as you pass another Spartan.

 

 

The game was exciting and MSU won in the last few seconds after letting Florida catch up in the final stretch. It was a long drive back with a lot of traffic leaving Gainsville and on I75 south, but seeing the game live and helping cheer the Spartans to victory was so worth it to this MSU alum.

Happy Tuesday!

 

Friday, December 7, 2018

December So Far

 

 

It's a busy month, but I'm very thankful for that extra week on the calendar this year, after Thanksgiving and before December 1st. It gave us all a chance to recover and move forward, with a bit of a pause. My shopping is almost done, except for some small items and I'm just waiting patiently (or maybe impatiently) for all my packages to arrive, so I can wrap and ship them to Michigan. I am a big on line shopper and do not miss the days of marathon trips to the mall, carrying heavy shopping bags and overheating in my winter coat. With free shipping and cyber Monday discounts, it's a no brainer for me.

 

 

On Monday, I hosted a luncheon for my yoga group. There are a core group of us that are there every week, since the beginning and I wanted to get us out of the clubhouse for a change. I had everything ready before I left, so it would be easy and stress free when I returned after yoga. I kept things simple with soup, two salads and rolls. I also served two kinds of sangria - a red and a white. The red sangria was Pinot Noir, with apples, oranges, grapes limes, simple syrup, club soda and a cinnamon stick. The white sangria was Sauvignon Blanc, apples, cranberries, simple syrup, club soda and a sprig of rosemary. The recipes can be found on my Fun Drinks Pinterest board.

 

 

The Creamy Tomato Basil Soup I served, was so good. It's my second time making this recipe and I'm sure it won't be the last. It's perfect for company, because you can make it ahead of time in the crock pot and serve when you are ready. The original pin can be found here.

 

 
Wednesday night was the monthly girls night out at our clubhouse. We tried something different this month and ordered some food in, rather than all bring something to share. It was a great idea in this busy season. These girl's nights have been a great addition to the neighborhood calendar and such a good way to casually meet neighbors. We have new people moving in all the time and snowbirds that come and go, so it's important to keep connections open.
 
 

 

My book group met last night and I led the discussion of Little Fires Everywhere. It is a great book for an interesting and lively discussion, with several different themes throughout; including motherhood, adoption, cultural differences and life in suburbia. This book came to my attention from Reese Witherspoon, who picks a book each month, similar to what Oprah used to do. It's interesting that her picks seem to be gaining some cachet and are noted on Amazon as such.

Have a wonderful weekend! I hope to do a post with my Christmas decor next week.

 

{ Linking with these friends}

Savvy Southern Style

Between Naps on the Porch

21 Rosemary Lane

Stonegable

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Christmas Boat Parade

 

 

 

Over the years, we have been to many Christmas parades and the thing I remember most is that even though bundled up from the cold, I was usually freezing. This year, we went to the Christmas Boat Parade, along the Intercoastal Waterway in Venice and no coats were required.

 

 

 

 

We had planned to just take our chairs and cooler and find a spot along the Intercoastal, but received an invitation to a special event dinner at The Crow's Nest. We were seated at a table by a window and had a perfect view of the boats, very close to where the parade began. Dinner was a set menu and I enjoyed Pesto Salmon Costini, Seafood Bisque (with a shot of sherry on the side to add in - yum), Prime Rib and Key Lime Pie (my favorite) for dessert. It was all delicious and just a really nice and festive evening all around.

 

 

 

 

 

I didn't know what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised with the amount of decoration on the majority of the boats. The fire truck boat (photo above) won the People's Choice award and was really well done and realistic. Of all the entries, my favorite had jumping Dolphins pulling Santa's sleigh, palm trees and alligators - perfect for the Christmas season in Florida.

Happy Tuesday!

 

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Michigan ➡️ Florida
family, books, gardening, palm trees, the beach, golf, up north, msu football, detroit tigers, walking with my dog, trying new recipes, musicals, BBC, martinis, yoga, lilly

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