Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rod Sr. Birthday, March 19, 2009

Rod headed up to North Florida this past week to spend some time with his parents (while I was entertaining in Orlando and St. Pete) for his Dad's 90th birthday. He took some great pictures and while I don't know all the stories that certainly were behind the pictures, it sure looked like everyone had a good time!


Gainesville Kananpaha Botanical Gardens, March 21 and 22, 2009

Since Jodie was in town through the weekend, she decided to go with me to Gainesville on Friday afternoon to help setup and then work the show on Saturday. The plan wasn't decided yet, but, she would either stay through Sunday and come home with me--or--drive back with Mom and Dad when they drove up on Saturday for the day.

Kahapaha Botanical Gardens are gorgeous and there are a ton of plant and garden type vendors--so many that you could literally landscape and decorate your whole yard. I was in my usual spot at the far end of the show when we pulled in to setup Friday. Jodie was a huge help getting unloaded, putting up the tent and then getting things set out on the tables. We finished pretty quick!

We took off for the hotel, got checked in and then I toured her around the campus of the University of Florida. Gainesville really is a pretty town. We were looking for somewhere to eat and decided on Lombardo's. We had a couple great slices of pizza and luckily there is a "new" wine bar next door that you can get a nice glass of red to go with the pizza. The rolls are not as good as they used to be, but somehow we put down a basket full before we were done!

Saturday morning it was colder than we thought...especially after spending the day at the beach with temps in the 80's. To see a high in the 70's was a little disappointing. BUT, the good news is that the customers were lined up and ready to buy early in the morning. We did a brisk business early on and then settled into a steady pace as the afternoon wore on.

Mom and Dad fought some traffic to get up there. Apparently there were antique car races somewhere south on I-75 and they got slowed down. But, they showed up around noon. This show also has a silent auction, so, we put some bids on some items just in case we got lucky--before I lead them back to the booth.

While they were watching the booth, Jodie and I took off in search of the 7 foot wide lily pads!! We met up with a gal in the know, but, were disappointed to find out those lily pads don't bloom until August...and then only for a day or two! Bummer. But, we did spend a little time on the pathways the volunteers have been improving. Very pretty and nice!

Jodie decided to leave with them, and they took off about 5 p.m. for Orlando. Rod was grilling up a ton of burgers on the grill, but, ended up freezing them for later as the Illinois clan didn't make it back without stopping for dinner first.

Sunday at the show was a bit slower, but, I still did well. I was packed up and on the road shortly after 6 p.m. When I arrived in Orlando, I had four helpers to get unpacked...so we made short work of that.

We all went to bed early as Jodie's flight was scheduled to leave at 8 a.m--and Rod was back to work on Sunday so he definitely was up and out EARLY. Jodie and I got up at 5 a.m. and Mom and Dad rolled out a bit later. We were on the road a bit before 6 a.m. but the weather was pretty rainy, so it was slowing going up to Sanford. The airport there is pretty nice. It reminds me of Milwaukee...small, easy to navigate and we saw Jodie checked through security before we left. We told her we would stay in the area until after her flight was scheduled to leave--just in case. She made it home and was looking forward to a few days on her own since her guys were on a golf outing for Trav's school.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Beach Vacation, March 17-19, 2009

So, what do three gals do when they are on "vacation" and the weather is nice? Well, how about the BEACH?!?!?! The guys bowed out of this one--I think Dad was content with staying home and checking out his gang of old guys he knows on the block here. He is also keeping an eye on the neighbor's house that is being sold and remodeled. We think he is being a bit nosy, but, his curiosity is being rewarded with some good information on who is moving in! Rod had to make a quick trip to North Florida to be at his Dad's birthday party--more on that later!
To make this somewhat of a business write-off, we left on Tuesday--a day the weather wasn't really beach-worthy. My lye supplier is a couple miles off the highway at Lakeland, so we did a quick stop and picked up three 55# bags to get me through the spring and maybe summer...now onto VACATION!

We also had to make a stop in Clearwater to drop off a portrait of my Mom's cousin. That was a sad sidetrip though, as it turns out her cancer is back...but...it did give my Mom a chance to visit with her and her husband. We hope for the best, but, this time it may not be enough.

Jodie of course really wanted to spend time in the sun--the winter up in Illinois and Wisconsin has been brutal this year. And honestly, the winter in Florida has been a lot colder than usual. So we were all ready to relax in the sun.

We checked into the Extended Stay America in St. Pete using my CheckInn card for a great low rate, called the guys to let them know we arrived safe and sound and then proceeded to decide on a dinner place. We all wanted it to be somewhere beachy....so we decided on Sloppy Joes. That was a bit south of where we were on the north end of St. Petersburg, near the airport, but, how else do you start a vacation? We needed calypso music and big, pretty drinks with umbrellas in them!
So, we hit the highway...only to find a rush hour traffic jam. Dang. Mom was in the backseat telling us her blood sugar was getting low and we needed to hurry. Only trouble was, it's hard to hurry when you can't do more than 5 miles an hour! We made it onto I-275 and after a bit, it finally loosened up so we could do about 30 mph. We made our exit, headed west toward the beach and finally got to Gulf Blvd where we headed south to Treasure Island.

On the ride there, we must have seen a dozen ice cream stands, which Mom promptly cataloged for later reference. She was still trying to break our diet...and honestly after 6 weeks of hassling over menus and "treats" my will was broken too. Besides, it WAS Jodie's vacation, right?!
Sloppy Joes wasn't that busy mid-week, so we sat out on the back porch and enjoyed the cloudy, drizzling weather. By the time we finished our big "dessert" drinks--they were a bright cheery GREEN for St. Patrick's Day--the sun was just breaking out of the clouds at the horizon. So, we hit the boardwalk for some quick sunset pictures. Then we made the obligatory ice cream stop before hitting the grocery store for supplies. We made it back to the room, caught the distressing news that Natashia Richardson was in critical condition after a skiing mishap on the bunny slope and then hit the hay.
Wednesday dawned the perfect Florida beach day. Thank you God! We were headed down to the southern tip of the county to Fort DeSoto Park. I toured the girls around the campground and the eastern end of the park where we were greeted with about two dozen wind surfers catching big jumps on the steady winds. It was fantastic...how the heck do they hand onto to sails???

After a few minutes, we headed to the western side of the park where the beach access is...and we found not too many Spring Breakers when we got our umbrella set up. A group of six were within listening distance...and it was kind of fun hearing what those kids were doing. Jodie and I took a nice long walk up to the northern curve of the beach--picking up some shells along the way, before I settled into a good book and some serious tanning.
We stayed the day, getting some nice tans and a fair amount of redness too--Rod would have been giving us the "doneness" test! The wind was blowing steady all day long, so, it was really comfortable laying out. I ventured as far as mid-knee in the too cool water, but, Mom made it in to her waist before plunging up to her neck in the surf. We left when a few clouds moved in about 4-5pm...just a picture perfect day!
That night we stopped at a Carrabbas restaurant in Clearwater for dinner. A pitcher of Sangria and some wonderful food--ah, what a perfect day. I don't even think that Mom bugged me about ice cream...but I may have had too much sangria to remember!
So, since we all had plenty of sun on Wednesday, we decided a shopping trip was in order for Thursday before we headed back to Orlando. We had passed the John's Pass shopping area in Madiera Beach and we decided to go back there to check for souveniers and things. I am not the world's greatest shopper. I prefer to get in and out FAST and I am not overly concerned with fashion--of course those of you who know me, know I live in shorts and tees year round. LOL
So the shopping trip was tolerated by me, but, I think Jodie and Mom found enough goodies to get their shopping fix.

One thing that I found really hysterical....there was a little bar on the north end of the shopping blocks. They had sorta oldies music playing...and when you looked--every single person in the bar (except the servers) was gray haired!!! EVERY ONE...cross my heart hope to die. We found the Oldies equivalent of a Spring Break Hangout!!! I wish I had gotten the name of the place so I could turn you onto it, but, those of us nearing "that" age got a tickle out of it. And those of us at "that" age, were swaying to the music and drinking up the post-St Pats Day beers. Oh, here's a picture, maybe you can make out the name...

We made it back to Orlando via the Skyway Bridge where the guys had dinner basically ready for us. What a nice way to spend a couple days with Mom and Jodie. Hey, girls, lets do it again next year!!!

St. Augustine Seafood Festival, March 13-15, 2009

I am so happy to tell you that this year's St. Augustine Seafood Festival was NOT blown away...in fact we had beautiful weather the whole weekend. I was in the very corner of the show this year against the fence...which was nice flow-wise, but, pretty much a pain to get in to setup and to get out when I had packed up. BUT, I will request the same spot next year!

My parents were still in Florida, but, they were in charge of picking up my sister at the Sanford Airport when she arrived on Saturday night. SO, I had the hotel blessedly by myself for the weekend. LOL That meant I had control of the remote...and where and when to eat...so that was a nice change. :)

The show went very well...perhaps the best attendance on all three days as I have ever seen. Sales were about the same as prior years, so, no complaints on that front. I am getting VERY low on my fragrance oil bottles, but, I have to stretch out that order a bit longer...but, I am going to be very low, very soon on oils.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Kathleen's Baby Shower, March 7, 2009

My friend Kathleen is someone I imagined would never have kids--mainly because she has a veritable menagerie of animals--dogs, cats, horses, fish, birds, and whatever orphaned baby she comes across on the side of the road. Good thing she works at a vets office! Kathleen is the reason why we have Bonnie Dog and Princess Emily the cat...she is very good at finding adoptive homes for her orphans.

So, we all were thrilled when she found out she was pregnant with a real live human baby. Her and the father are not married and maybe won't ever be, but, we honestly don't care. (Both sets of grandparents are ecstatic!) The fact that she is gonna be a Mom is cool...and I am sure she is gonna be a GREAT Mom!

The baby shower was on Saturday and we spent a couple hours at Kath's parents house with lots of her friends, co-workers and family. The day was beautiful...warm and sunny. Parking was a pain, but, since it was the neighborhood's annual garage sale weekend, we could park out on the berm where there was plenty of space.

What can you say about a shower? Well this one had a great game--you all know how the games usually suck at showers, right? We did the candly bar melted in the diaper game, the guess the baby food jar game and the guess the Mom's waist size...but the TIE BREAKER was the best. Picture six girls with balloons tucked up their shirts. The game was to "break your water" but you couldn't use your hands and you couldn't just fall on the balloon. The girls basically had to impale themselves on whatever was handy...and it was a riot. The winner found the edge of a gas grill to pop the balloon--which had a little bit of water in it!! So she won the game.

Kathleen must have opened gifts for over two hours. It looked like the baby department at Macy's when she was done opening everything. LOL But, it couldn't have happened to a nicer gal.
The funniest thing of the whole day was that when Mom was undressing after the party, she found she had not removed the label from her new shirt!! If you look at the picture full screen, you may see it on her right boob...but we really hope the top was "busy" enough that none of the other guests saw it! LOL

Dad's Birthday Party, March 4 & 5, 2009

Well, Dad's 71st birthday was on Wednesday this week, so we decided to draw it out a bit. Rod has Friday and Saturday off, so we went to Red Lobster on Thursday night, but, we did the "cake" and presents on Wednesday.
We splurged on some Ben & Jerry's butter pecan for the folks, some chocolate fudge brownie for Rod and some Cherry Garcia for me. We really limited ourselves...buying one pint and then a couple smaller half-cup servings of the others. We were good being bad, I guess you could say. If you consider my husband could eat half a carton of ice cream and some cookies on a good night. Truth be told, I think we all could! LOL
Presents were kinda boring...a new jacket from Mom and a couple Disney long sleeve tees from us...but we know there are more goodies coming when Jodie comes next weekend. But the hit of the night was the card from Mom...I think you can see the card front in the next picture!!!

Oh, and Mom and I started and finished our next puzzle. :)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Grant Seafood Festival, Feb 28 and March 1, 2009

I LOVE this festival. It is out in the middle of NO-WHERE, and somehow each year the residents of Grant put on this kick ass seafood and music festival. This year was no exception. The only problem is that Grant must be located in a black hole of some kind--the weather EVERY single year is problematic. Every single year I have done the show, we lose at least one day to bad weather--WIND, rain, thunderstorms, tornadoes. You name, it, we have experienced it at this show.

But, THIS year we talked my husband into coming to the show. Mom and I handled the setup, and since Dad was still experiencing the bad ringing in the years from watching a too loud Slumdog Millionaire, he stayed home Friday and planned on coming with Rod. SO, Mom and I did the Friday night work and then found a place to eat before doing some shopping in Melbourne at the Mall.

Saturday was supposed to be great weather...and it was!! The crowds were bigger than I have ever seen there and my sales were pretty good too. It was just a perfect day--warm and sunny and people were out enjoying the seafood and the music. They were busing in people from the airport parking in big Greyhound charter buses. It was all pretty smooth. AND the guy manning the back door of the fried shrimp place fell victim to my womanly charms (!!!) and even gave us about FOUR extra bowls of shrimp. LOL I swear it is the best fried shrimp in the state. The Clam Chowder is pretty good too!

Rod and Dad arrived about 11 a.m. and got right into the spirit of the festival. Rod grabbed a beer, Dad started making the rounds of the crafters he knew to say HI...and Mom and I were able to get away from the booth for a bit to explore. The guys stayed until almost 5 p.m. and then headed back to Orlando. Mom and I did a nice dinner out...kinda late though as the show was not over until 7 p.m. this year. It got too dark at 6 p.m., so we packed up shortly after that. We headed back to the room after dinner and watched a movie at the hotel.

Sunday was forecast to be very windy--it was--and possibly rainy. We definitely got the wind and as usual every one's tents were shaking. My soap tent is very prone to shaking since I don't hang things on the sides--like the photographers and painters do. Everything is kept in place by stakes and tie-downs. Unfortunately once my neighbor decided to leave about noon, I lost some of my wind buffer and I was afraid the tent would be next. Which would then leave my soap exposed without any protection. Not a good thing when you have soap. It's not like wood stuff, that you can wipe dry. Or cloth stuff which can be dried. SOAP DISSOLVES...so I don't take any chances with my inventory.

We were packed up by 1:30 and ready to use up the rest of our seafood tickets. The fish kabobs were great as was the smoked fish dip. Those are new things for me to try this year and I am glad I was brave. I was sleepy on the trip back to Orlando, but, we made it in no time and with no incident. Rod and Dad made dinner that night, so we were all happy, happy, happy!