Friday, January 20, 2012



Driving through south Tampa, yesterday, evidence of the annual pirate invasion was in full force.
All along the parade route (right down Bayshore Blvd), spectator areas were being fenced off. Food and beverage kiosks were being raised. And ROWS of porta-potties lined the median...all the way to downtown Tampa.

Homes, all along the parade route, are dressed and ready for the big day/weeks!  (Wish I could have captured the homes with pirate skeletons climbing the pillars and on the rooftop. They rivaled the scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean! Bayshore Blvd. is dressed to the nines, but too busy to stop and take photos.)

(This photo was borrowed from the Gasparilla Event website)

This Saturday is the Children's Parade...a watered down parade geared to the young set (Thank goodness!). Children and parents stroll on a much-shortened parade route. They dress the part, and ride in wagons, on bikes, etc. So cute!

The Children's event is capped off by an early evening fireworks display...


Next weekend is the "official" invasion!
That's the day when Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla arrives in Tampa aboard the ship, Jose Gaspar. The ship arrives, guns blazing, at the docks of the convention center, were the mayor of Tampa hands over the keys to the city, in the hopes that the Pirates will not destroy it.  Then the real festivities begin!

There's "Breakfast with the Pirates" at the Gasparilla Brunch, the Gasparilla Pirate Fest Street Festival (10am-10pm) with live music from 5pm on, and FOOD...did I mention FOOD? Lots of it...everywhere!

Move over Mardi Gras! The Pirates are coming!!! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


You know how much I love the variety of wading birds here in Florida...

Here's one I have rarely seen...until this year!!!

A woodstork!  

This one was just gracefully walking through the neighborhood...
Notice the line of black feathers...Those are the flight feathers. (see photo below)

The wood stork is the largest wading bird native to America. It has very long legs and a distinctive featherless head with a very thick beak, which curves downward. The feathers of the wood stork are white with black flight feathers. Its wingspan is around 5 1/2 feet. The wood stork flies with its neck and legs extended, interrupting strong wing beats with brief glides. 

(Yeah...I'm an information junkie.)

These birds are endangered...
mostly due to man changing their natural habitat. 

As I said, I rarely see Wood Storks, but during the past week, I have had the privilege of seeing 6 of them...all in different locations.
(Photo by Ira Runyan)

I found this image on the web...It's a good photo of the Wood Stork's head. 

Not the prettiest face, but it's so interesting...and the edging of black in the feathers is gorgeous...

I think this may be my next subject to paint....

posting with Outdoor Wednesday and Watery Wednesday

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Between football games, MacDaddy and I took a "get me outta here" drive to the beach. A weather change was imminent and the birds were standing in shallow water, facing the wind. Among the hundreds of sea gulls, sandpipers and plovers were some strange-looking wings, red beaks that tapered to black. I had never seen these birds before, so I "googled" them... 
(photo from web)
Black Skimmers are tern-like birds and the ONLY bird in the world whose lower mandible is longer than the upper. They are so named because of the way they feed...they fly just above the water's surface and skim the top with their lower beaks open "like a pair of scissors". They are the most interesting birds...with their sleek bodies, black tipped feathers and brilliantly red beaks and legs. 
And they just stood there watching me, as I walked within a few feet of them. I leaned that they often nest in this area of Florida, but that we're also on the migratory path.  The most fascinating thing I learned, though, is that a group of Black Skimmers are calls a "CONSPIRACY".  Pretty cool, huh?

I am linking with Outdoor Wednesday and Watery Wednesday.

Friday, January 6, 2012



Turn back the the 50s and 60s. Kathleen's and Scott's house was filled with the sounds of Elvis, Little Richard, Gene Pitney, Pat Boone (Kathleen's favorite),girl groups from Motown and more... Aromas of classic foods wafted through the air...Chicken Divan, Shrimp Cocktail, Cheese Balls, Bisquick Sausage Balls, Deviled Eggs, and lots of finger sandwiches. Hula Hoops lined the sidewalk, greeting guests as they arrived. A dance floor was cleared and dance contests were held...along with trivia questions, hula hoop contests, and more. Prizes for these contests were waiting on silver trays...Slinkys, Play Doh, Boston Baked Beans candy and Wrigley Spearmint Gum...all items introduced in the 1950s and 60s. 
This photo was taken after the meal was done...
(We didn't arrive until after  the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Of course,
watching Auburn play took precedent over anything else...and we had a
huge group at our home, eating chicken nuggets, in honor of the sponsor of the game.)
There were even "POODLE" cookies for dessert!

Photos from the 1950s and 60s were copied from the internet and framed in "Dollar Store" black frames. These were displayed on the mantle, the coffee table, and other surfaces throughout the room. These photos included Audrey Hepburn, James Dean, Elvis, Lucy and Marilyn Monroe, ads from this time period, and so much more...
The foyer table had framed photos (from the internet), album covers, sundae dishes with bubble gum...

and a CD  of the host's high school rock/garage band. He's the bass player!
(That was a loooong time ago, Scott!)
For the mantle, we interspersed the framed photos with record album covers and LPs (from Salvation Army). A round-bulbed light string was added for a festive touch.
 And a purchased "car" was placed in front of the opening.
 This was later used for photographs of the guests...
The table was covered with a black and white checked cloth. There was a runner in the middle ...made from a 50s car covered fabric. The centerpiece was made from a GW cupcake stand, 45s and glue. Salvation Army LPs were placed on the table. Bubble gum was tossed all over the table, and Good and Plenty Candies were in old-fashioned sundae glasses.
LPs were also fastened to cake stands...just a little dot of hot glue did the trick. These stands were used for some of the finger sandwiches.

How to make the centerpiece...

One GW cupcake stand - $3.05
Gently pull out a few of the "springs" and tilt them.
Run a bead of hot glue to the uppermost part of the spring and attach a 45 record.

Fill in as needed...I used 9 records.


1.  Pimiento Cheese (purchased - I love the spread from The Fresh Market) on VERY THIN Pepperidge Farm white bread

2.  Chicken and Pecan (finely diced white chicken meat, finely chopped pecans, a tiny touch of mayo   or (gasp) Miracle Whip...just enough to bind the ingredients) on VERY THIN Pepperidge Farm whole wheat bread

3.  Cream Cheese and Green Olive on soft white bread
     To soften cream cheese, add diced green olive and mix together. 
     Add a little of the olive juice to make it easier to spread.

4.  Cucumber Sandwiches on soft whole wheat bread
     Spread a very thin layer of Ranch Dressing on one slice of the bread. 
     Spread a very thin layer of whipped cream cheese on the other slice of bread.
     Top this slice with very thin slices of seedless cucumber. Top with the remaining bread.

5.  Lemon Curd and Cream Cheese on soft white bread
     Spread one slice of bread with a thin layer of soft cream cheese. Top with a thin layer of
     lemon curd (purchased). Top with another slice of bread and gently press together.

6.  Cherry Nut Spread on soft white bread
     To softened cream cheese, add diced maraschino cherries and finely chopped pecans. (The filling will be a light pink.)

The SECRET to slicing crusts from bread and cutting these tiny sandwiches is using a serrated edge knife. (I share this because the ladies who were preparing the sandwiches were mangling them by pressing down and cutting with a regular knife. We had to toss several sandwiches away.) With a very light touch, hold the sandwich together with your fingers and gently "saw" the crusts from the bread. Then gently "saw" the sandwiches into triangles, rectangles or squares. The Lemon Curd/Cheese sandwich is easily cut with a round tiny biscuit cutter, if you desire.

Judging from the way the guests ate...these tiny sandwiches are still CLASSICS and ENJOYED today. Any of them are good for tea, parties, showers, game nights. They are an economical way to serve tasty food to guests without breaking the bank!
      A-wop bop-a loo-mop, a-lop bam-boom! 


I am linking up with Foodie Friday