Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Ocean

The ocean tells me
You're away, you're away.

The waves call to me
"Come play, come play."

And so I surrendered
my place in the sand

and forgot to remember
all that I planned.


Thank you to Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for hosting Outdoor Wednesdays.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Beware ...Pirates in the House!

MY TURN to host our neighborhood Bunco...

20 Ladies plan to come...our biggest group, yet!
I need a theme...

Oh yeah... GASPARILLA is coming up. Great idea!!! Call SIL to borrow her collection of pirates, beads, and coins (Brother is a Gasparilla PIRATE. They have LOTS of stuff!!!).

Enter, if you dare...

I was unable to find the skulls I wanted for the wreath center, so I pulled out my paints and canvas...

The bow is made with 3 colors of wired ribbon...purple, green with a gold trim, and a "bronzey"-gold.

The saber is from IParty... It is attached with a gold cording, which disappears to the eye.

Hanks of beads are attached with chenille strips...otherwise known as pipe cleaners. I love using these with wreath-making. They attach so well...and can be removed easily. (I reuse the base wreath over and over again.)

The dining room table is set with 3 napkins used as a runner, my favorite cheese box, topped with a vine wreath, and adorned with hanks of beads. The center is one of my favorite lanterns. On the table are "doubloons" with the Gasparilla ship motiff, pirates, and spent shells from the guns fired by the pirates. (Blanks, of course!)

On the serving counter, a mirrored tray (I made this from an unfinished tray from Michaels and a broken mirror, mastic and grout) is the resting place for "Kermit, the Pirate Frog", "Mr. Potato Pirate", and "Pirate Troll". An unlikely trio, their colorful attire make them just the right (humorous) touch at the beginning of the buffet.

Red plates and Pirate napkins are positioned in an old cigar box (more Tampa flavor) from my collection, waiting for guests to serve themselves from the array of foods.

The Menu:
Cannon Balls in Blood (meat balls in red sauce) w/ Parker House Rolls...for mini-sandwiches Seaweed Dip (spinach), She-Crab Dip, Anchor Cheese Spread (shaped like an anchor), Tropical Fruit (citrus ambrosia), 1905 Salad (recipe from the Columbia Restaurant -You can find this online or in an older post), Rum Crunch Cake, Guava Paste w/ Cream Cheese and Saltines, Assorted Crackers and Flatbreads, Hard Tack (Galletas Cubanitas...Cuban Soda Crackers)

One of several treasure chests, scattered throughout the house.

(Do you
see Hannah peeking out behind the pirate?) The "chest" is from Ross...marked down to $2!

Here she is!

One of the chest displays... Large clam shells with "pearl necklaces", a "parrot's wing", and one of my crab paintings. The clam shells were in a box of garage sale shells. The parrot wing was on the markdown table at HomeGoods. It had been painted angel wing, I suppose.

Each of the tables was set with a black cloth, a center "napkin" with a
skull and crossbones which had been "drawn" with a paint writer. On the table was a bright red bowl of Goldfish Crackers and mini-pirate characters. The tables were numbered with wooden numerals from Drummer Boy's wedding reception.

A fun time was had by all!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010



(photo from the files of the Orlando Sentinel)

Each year, at the end of January, Tampa is invaded by PIRATES!!! For over 100 years, these "ruthless" members of Jose Gaspar's Krewe arrive, in their replicated ship, at the Convention Center in downtown Tampa and take over the city for a full day of merriment.

Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla was formed in 1905...and the tradition was begun. These "pirates" are prominent businessmen from the area...doctors, lawyers, business owners, brokers, bankers, etc., who meet for an early "makeup session" at the Tampa Yacht Club. There they transform from "mild-mannered" men, to fierce pirates, complete with scars, beards, and swarthy complexions. Truthfully, it's difficult to recognize who they really are (I have never been able to pick out my brothers!) The "pirates" then board their ship, the Jose Gasparilla, and sail around Davis Islands to the convention center, where they dock and disembark.

The pirate ship is escorted by hundreds of boats...big and small. It's quite a sight! Once the ship docks, the pirates disembark and meet the mayor. To "avoid devastation of the city", the mayor relinquishes the keys to the city and the festivities begin.
A one of the largest in the US... is held, followed by a carnival atmosphere filled with stage acts, rides, and foods along the river in downtown Tampa. Fireworks light the sky to end the day's festivities.

Here the Jose Gasparilla has landed, and the pirates are getting ready to invade the city. (When I was a kid, there was a tightrope walker going back and forth between the mast. It was so cool!!!)

Other parades and festivities, including the Children's Pirate Parade and the Gasparilla Classic...a half marathon and a marathon race, have been added to make this a two week celebration. The Illuminated Knight Parade in Ybor City is hosted by the Krewe of Sant' Yago. This night parade is almost as big as the day parade...but with a Spanish flavor. It takes place under the vintage street lights of Ybor. (When I was in high school, our Chiefette (dancer) uniforms were short lace dresses with mantillas, in place of the "Indian" silver fringe and rhinestones and white plumed headdresses. We all felt so beautiful!) And of course, bands played Malaguena.

Why PIRATES? And who was Jose Gaspar?

As legend goes, Jose Gaspar, "the last of the buccaneers", was a Spanish aristocrat who was quite a rogue...even at a young age. To avoid jail for his many crimes, Gaspar was given the option of joining the Spanish navy. While in the navy, he showed that he was cunning and quite brave. At the age of 27, he rose through the ranks to become a naval attache to the Court of King Charles III, in 1772.

While at court, he dallied with many ladies....including the king's daughter-in-law, who he publicly jilted. To get even with Gaspar, the jilted woman conspired with the prime minister to frame Gaspar for the theft the crown jewels. Escaping punishment, Gaspar stole the ship, the Floridablanca, and sailed to the new world. Swearing revenge against the Spanish crown, Gaspar attacked any Spanish ship who came his way.

For the next 38 years, Gaspar attacked as many as 400 merchant ships from many countries...some Spanish, some from other countries. "Gasparilla", the name he gave himself, sailed the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida and down to Cuba.

At the age of 65, Gasparilla announced to his crew that he was going to retire. However, there was just one more ship coming his way that was reported to have a FORTUNE aboard. What a great way to end his days as a pirate! This "fat merchant ship" was flying the British flag and seemed to be helpless on the seas. Unfortunately, for Gaspar and his band of pirates, this ship was actually the USS Enterprise, an American ship with a boatload of cannons, sent to wipe out the pirates preying in the Gulf of Mexico. A fierce battle ensued, and the Floridablanca was sinking. To avoid capture, Jose Gaspar wrapped the chain of the ship's anchor around his waist and jumped into the waters, never to be seen again.

There are many more stories about Jose Gaspar...some about his ruthlessness, some about his kindness and sentimentality. Whether any of these tales are true is anyone's guess. But, here in Tampa, we celebrate this pirate taking over the keys to the city...and have been doing this for 106 years.

This year's celebrations started today, with the Children's Pirate Parade. The Gasparilla Parade will be held on Saturday, January 30. The pirate ship will arrive in Tampa around 11:30. There is a brunch with the pirates at the convention center...and the parade begins at 1:30...on Bayshore Blvd. The parade ends in downtown...and the festival begins. The day's festivities come to an end with a fabulous fireworks display late in the evening.

This is a fun-filled experience. If you are anywhere near the Tampa area, and have not attended any of the parades, you really should make the time to do so. It's a true "Tampa Experience".


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

91 and Still Going Strong

Monday was my mother's 91st birthday. She is an amazing woman...and one of the most joyful people I know. Yes, she was thrown for a loop by my dad's death, but she has pulled herself together and gotten on with her life. Her goal is to bring joy to others...and she does!

On Sunday, we had a birthday celebration for her. All her children were there...and several of her grands and great-grands. "GreatMa" was in her element. Oh how she loves to be the center of attention! And she loved all her gifts!!! Interestingly, we all bought flowering bulbs for her to enjoy in her condo...jonquils, hyacinth, and tulips. She also received gorgeous hydrangeas, But her favorite gift of all was a calendar....with all the family birthdays and photos of every family member. My brother, P, and his wife, B, compiled this calendar and had it printed and bound for her...and for each sibling and their kids. Mom was totally speechless...for about 2 minutes, then she began to sing. She literally pranced all over the house...and of course, she sang about everything she saw...

Now you must understand...My mom has the voice of a frog! But she remembers each and every ditty that she has learned for the past 90 years. Mention the word, FLAG...and she "has a song for that". Say "GOAT" and she begins the rhyme, "A horse and a goat... No! I got a sore toe..."
(It drives all of us insane!!! But we still love her...and see the smiles she puts on other people's faces.)

Happy Birthday, Mom!!! (Doesn't she look great?!!!)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's Raining Iguanas!!!

The urban legend it true! It does rain cats and dogs...or in this case, IGUANAS!!!

In south Florida, the temperatures have dropped so much that iguanas are dropping from the trees! Iguanas are not native to Florida and cannot tolerate the occasional cold temps we get. Since they are cold-blooded creatures, their systems go into "hibernation mode" and they literally fall out of the trees. If they warm up in a short amount of time, they will revive. One man learned this the hard way... he stopped to pick up iguanas, tossed them into the back of his car, and drove off. As the car temps warmed the iguanas "back to life", they began crawling around the car and onto the driver. He almost had an accident. (How would he explain this accident...driving while...?)

Frozen Florida: icicles on palm trees, falling iguanas, earmuffs instead of flip-flops - 1/6/2010 5:01:27 PM | Newser

Friday, January 8, 2010

Say Goodbye...

Say our tropical foliage. Even covering these plants will not protect them from the newest Arctic blast heading our way. All we can hope for is that the plants are not totally killed.

This has been a strange winter! We rarely drop to the forties...and that happens maybe once or twice a year. This year we are in our 3rd week of almost record lows. Heat pumps cannot pull heat out of air this the houses are quite cool. (Maybe we should pull out our old wood stove from our PA days...)

Now don't get me wrong...I am enjoying the cold...I get to wear my beautiful sweaters! But I'm going to miss these monstera plants...they are in my front flower bed...climbing up 20ft. high. Glad I photographed them last week...

Stay warm...especially those of you who are in the truly frigid weather. And think about the orange growers and the strawberry growers. They will likely lose their crops this weekend...right at the peak of the season. We're praying that this will not happen...

Monday, January 4, 2010

To Toss or not to Toss?

This is the time of year I begin to go through my stuff...boxes of materials, decor items I tossed into the empty Christmas bins, closets, clothing, etc. And I ask myself....Will I use this item again?

Well this year, while decorating the house, I rummaged through several Christmas boxes, looking for specific items, only to realize that they were tossed (or donated) a year or two ago. I am kicking myself over this.... Then again, storage in my home is not unlimited (no basements...we hit water here!)...and MacDaddy needs to have a bit of space, too.

How long do you keep your "stuff"?

made from used sailsCheck out Maya's New Year's giveaway... Really cool things made from old sails!

After seeing these pillows etc, I am kicking myself for not keeping our old, worn-out sails. That will teach me from tossing things out! Click on the link below...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Years...War Eagle

"We didn't know what to do...that was wild and crazy. I'm not so sure I've ever gone into a game with 7 wins and came our with 10." Gene Chizik, Auburn coach.

What a day this was!!! Beginning with a torrential downpour that lasted through 3 quarters of the game, followed by plummeting temperatures ("feels like" temp. is in the 40s! That's FREEZIN' for this old Florida gal.) Mr. P, my family and I attended the Outback Bowl to cheer on our beloved Auburn Tigers. (I do not remember being this cold since the last Outback Bowl I attended...AU vs Penn State in 1996 or 97...the last time Auburn played locally.) Thankfully, we won, today, in the wildest overtime I have ever witnessed in a football game. All three boys and one of the girls were with us...cheering our team to victory over Northwestern Univ. (In case you cannot see the score, it's AU 38, Nortwestern 35.)

MacDaddy and I have had the most marvelous 3 days: greeting AU family members with "war eagle" all over the Tampa Bay area...seeing old friends...making new ones...talking with players (including past players like Bo Jackson)...watching parades...and so much more. I hate to see the season end!!!
Yet we anticipate trips to Alabama, new players to meet, and lots of tailgating!

Happy New Year!!!