Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunken Gardens

Saturday, we went to Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg! It's a historic botanical gardens. I'm going to quote Wikipedia here:

The Sunken Gardens are 4 acres (1.6 hectares) of well-established botanical gardens located at 1825 4th Street North, in the center of St. Petersburg, Florida. The Gardens were a commercial tourist attraction for many years, but are now operated by the city and maintained with the help of volunteers. Sunken Gardens are open to the public every day of the week; admission is charged. 
Sunken Gardens retains their historical interest as an important example of a 1930s Florida roadside commercial attraction, and is probably the oldest commercial tourist attraction on Florida's west coast.
The Gardens began in 1903, when plumber and avid gardener George Turner Sr. purchased the site, including a shallow lake 10 feet (3.0 m) below sea level, which he drained to form his private "sunken" garden. Turner started planting papayas and citrus fruits along with other exotic plants on the rich soil surrounding his home. By the 1920s, Turner had opened a nursery and began selling fruits, vegetables, roses and other plants, and visitors were paying a nickel each to stroll through the gardens. In the fall of 1935, he fenced his garden and started charging an admission fee of 25 cents. The Gardens eventually became widely popular, and from the 1950s through the 1970s were ranked among Florida’s top ten commercial attractions. 

It was kinda overcast today so it wasn't the prettiest day for photos but the weather was cool (I think around 72 or so?) and we were already heading down in that area anyway so we took a quick tour. Thought you might enjoy all the extremely tropical greenery in December! :)

We actually got there late so we didn't get to see all the Gardens but we'll try to head back and catch the other half another day.

Christmas Day

We go to both Love's family AND my family for holidays and Christmas is no exception. We start our morning off with exchange just with each other (and the kitties of course!) and then get ready and drive an hour out to his cousin's house in the country. We do a brunch there and then after, head to my Mom's house for a dinner with my family. It makes for a busy day and a lot of traveling but it's nice getting to see all our families.

Willow of course came along - and showed off his Santa coat he got for Christmas!

His cousin lives out in the middle of nowhere on an unpaved road. They even have a horse!

And here's the barn!

Here's their deck where we all hung out and ate.

Some of the pastries for brunch including a donut crockenbush! 

Next up, we went to my Mom's house. She has a wee little tree!

We ate out on her back patio as well. You can see the green grass of the backyard and the fact my sister has shorts on!

Later in the evening after the sun went down, we went inside my Mom's house and did gift exchange.

Getting Ready for Christmas!

There was so much last-minute things to do for Christmas! Quick trip to the mall for a last minute gift, baking dozens of cookies and wrapping gifts!

One of the local malls around here has a permanent ice skating rink inside! I always find that ironic.

Making Christmas cookies!

Another type of cookie I made for Christmas!

Look at all the cookies! Whew!!

Willow checks out the Disney Christmas village under my tree.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Love's brother invited us to be in a parade. His girlfriend owns a mold removal business and participates in a local business parade each year. All kinds of local businesses bring decorated trucks, flatbeds, floats and such and toss candy and beads. It goes down a major street which is closed for the day for people to line up and watch.

I've seen parades but I've never been in one so Love and I said, "sure!" when he asked if we wanted to be in it with them.

I got to ride on the back of the truck tossing candy and beads. Love walked along side the truck. It was A LOT of work and man, my arm was SORE throwing out hundreds of beads. But it was super fun!

Here's the view of the back of the truck. We had folding chairs to sit in and boxes and boxes of candy and beads!

Pre-chaos boxes of candy and beads.

All the participants are assigned numbers and they line up along the road in their designated area.

It's hard to see but this is a Santa's workshop float. Really nicely done with toys inside and everything.

This is my brother-in-law and myself all decked out in beads, lights and a Santa hat waiting for the parade start. (It was a LONG wait. We waited for HOURS. LOL)

Sunset made the sky pink! You can see the other side of the street was open for traffic but as far as the eye could see, this side was just lined up floats and vehicles.
Admittedly bad photo of me trying to take a SUPER fast shot of the crowds as we were on the route.

I only managed to get these two shots during the actual parade as it was HECTIC and FRENZIED but fun. I was surprised how many people there were!

Jingle Bell Run

Love did the 31st Annual Jingle Bell run that goes throughout Downtown St. Petersburg. Everyone wears lights and jingle bells and it's a festive atmosphere.

I got there early and took some pictures of Downtown first and then after dark, of the decorations and the run. It's right on the water so there's lots of sailboats, yachts, boats, and such plus several waterfront parks and of course shopping and dining and high rise condos. It's a pretty area.

View of The Pier. It closed this summer and was supposed to be replaced with a new thing called The Lens but it got voted down so now no one knows what's going on with it!

Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

The famous Banyan Trees!
As you can see, they drop roots DOWN from the branches which then root and form these detailed trunks and they look like a colony of trees all joined and connected.

From the other side of the park, you can see how large the Banyan trees are!

Christmas Tree set up in the park.
Sun was starting to set. The Pier in the background and a sailboat drifts by. And that's the moon up in the top left.
Modern art and high rise condo in one of the other parks right in Downtown.

Walking past the St. Pete Yacht club on the right towards the search lights indicating the starting point for the race.

Some of the many yachts docked across the street from the yacht club!

The starting line for the race.

There were LOTS of people!

And this is the section of the park near the Christmas Tree from earlier all lit up at night. It was so pretty! Plus, Santa was meeting with kids, hence the line. :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas at Disney - Part Three: Magic Kingdom

It turns out when I went to look at my Magic Kingdom pics, I really only took a few and most of them didn't come out. Whoops!

So here's one with Willow and one of Cinderella Castle all decorated in icicle lights since I kinda forgot to get more pics. We're planning on going again before the holidays are over so I'll try to get more next time.