Sunday pleasures and treasures

Fortified with Dave’s raisin bread French toast, vegan sausage, fresh Florida strawberries and an orange juice banana protein shake, we headed south to Sarasota for a lazy afternoon at Cafe in the Park. We made the same trek this time last year to listen to one of our favorite local bands, Passerine. It’s the first time they’ve played in public since then and they sound better than ever.

We got rhythm

Passerine lead vocalist and guitar player Carmela Pedicini describes their style of music as Americana, a unique blend of bluegrass, country, folk, rock and roll and blues. Sara Moone brings the classic Bill Monroe tunes to life with her fiddle and vocals. David Brain plays a dobro, a resonator slide guitar and Doug Conroy is on the upright bass.

See their website: http://Passerine music.net. By the way, if you’re curious about the name, Passerine is an order of birds that includes over 140 families of songbirds.

A snippet from Passerine live in the park
Chillin

As we crossed the Skyway coming home, We diverted to the Pinellas Bayway to catch the sunset at Pass aGrille.

Pelican diner

Picked up a few shells at the southern tip of Passagrille. Had to return my favorite, a perfect little lightning whelk because a hermit crab was squatting in it.

Shelling down by the jetty

After indulging at Cafe in the Park with a delicious pressed Cuban and chicken salad on a croissant (more bread!), a crunchy salad for supper was the perfect antidote.

Antidote

Kids in a candy shop

Saturday morning market

We meant to go to an art fair in downtown St. Pete but ended up at the Saturday morning market.

Just pretty stones?

First we stopped at the booth named St. Pete Rocks. I bought Mookalite, a form of jasper from Australia that is meant to impart deep calm when faced with new experiences, points out all possibilities and assists with choosing the best one. Nancy chose Rhyolite, which is purported to ignite the potential and creativity of the soul, potentiates change and assists in fulfilling quests. Also Bloodstone a grounding and protective stone, known for its properties to revitalize the mind and dispel confusion, and a sharks tooth just for fun.

Life Farms

We only meant to buy a few tomatoes but kids in a candy shop that we are, couldn’t resist organic red tipped lettuce, watermelon radishes and baby carrots from Life Farms in Clearwater, organic heirloom tomatoes from Little Pond Farm in Bushnell, more organic tomatoes, cucumbers, baby bok choy, green beans, beets and dandelion greens from Worden Farms in Punta Gorda.

We rushed home with our colorful bounty intent on a juicy tomato sandwich and a big salad with our dinner.

It’s not Jersey fresh, but we are grateful for a sunny February day abounding with life from the Earth.

Owls of Dunedin

Mama and Papa owl with two in the nest

One of the pleasures of living in Florida is the variety of beautiful birds in our shared environment. I’m always surprised to see owls and am pleased to share a sweet owl family posted by Carla Royal. Appropriate because she is as wise as an owl. In addition to being a great photographer, as a licensed psychotherapist, she helps her clients reconnect with their own wisdom. Check her out on Carlaroyal.com

Watch out mice

What’s for dinner-Italian Wedding Soup

From my ex-husband’s cousin’s brother-in-law’s website:

http://www.lavillacucina.com/La_Villa_Cucina_Culinary_Travel_&Cooking_School_Vacations/Daniel_Rosatis_La_Villa_Cucina~Culinary_Travel&_Cooking_School_Vacations.html

Minestra Maritata
Italian-American “Wedding” Soup

¼ cup olive oil
2 Spanish onions, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 garlic cloves, passed through a garlic press
2 quarts rich chicken broth
2 bunches escarole, washed very well, then torn into small pieces

In a 8 quart pot, warm the oil over low heat…add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic…cook covered until onions are tender…add broth, bring to a simmer…season well with salt and pepper…add escarole…simmer uncovered until escarole is tender…while escarole is cooking prepare meatballs.

Turkey Meatballs:

2 pounds ground dark meat turkey
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, passed through a garlic press
20 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only, chopped
½ cup grated parmigiano
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
pinch of nutmeg

Combine above ingredients in a medium size bowl, blend well with a wooden spoon…line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper…preheat oven to 400 degrees…form meatball mixture into small rounds using a tablespoon as measure…place on parchment lined pan…bake for 15 minutes or until firm, add to soup, continue to cook for 20 minutes more.

Serve soup in bowls with a generous spoonful of parmigiano.

Mt Dora Art Studio

Pj Svejda & German Lemus
Studio Art Farm.
” Bringing People Together Through Art”

Deciding to delay leaving town to avoid heavy rain on our journey home, we decided to explore town on foot. And as one does, when exploring, we ran across delightful people.

PJ & Lemus are an exuberant young couple with an art studio “Studio Art Farm” located at 120 East 4th Ave Mount Dora, FL. They touched our hearts with their mission – see below. Check them out on Instagram and if you want to take a class go to their web page http://www.studioartfarm.com.

Looking at some of PJs students work.

Studio Art Farm’s Mission

“The dream is to build a community of artists who are eager to learn and live in a peaceful planet. My goal as an artist is to tell stories and raise awareness. I challenge humanity and urge compassion, respect, and coexisting for all with the understanding that that mentality begins with happiness of the self. As a teacher, my goal is to help people not only achieve their fundamental and technical goals but to facilitate a healthy state of mind where you have the tools to express your subconscious voice and do so through the journey of creating.

Art is the voice of the subconscious.”

Half Moon over Leafy Green

Half moon rising in the East

Today was sparkling clear with the crisp chill of a Northeast autumn, our version of a winter day. We set out for downtown St. Petersburg with high hopes for a parking space and outdoor seating on the sidewalk in front of our favorite raw food restaurant, Leafy Greens.

And the Gods were smiling upon us. Two of the three outdoor tables were up against the wall and we dragged them out in the sun. We had a northeast wind of up to 20 mph, so several of us ordered the delicious fresh tomato basil soup. I recommend their raw tacos housed in romaine boats with walnut, crunchy veggies and hummus filling and a spicy sauce. Helen ordered the red lentil curry which she enjoyed but suggested they kick up the seasoning a bit. The avocado toast has the most delicious bread. Anthony was our chef and waiter and balanced his tasks with grace. We all felt like old friends before we left.

We’ve lived in this city long enough to know better, but we blithely headed to our next destination: Williams Park for Localtopia. We had the good sense to avoid the long lines for the food trucks, and were not expecting a line down three city blocks to get into the park. There were two issues, the bottleneck at the gate for COVID screening and the capacity limit for the venue. When we realized that the people waiting were waiting for spots that would only open up if people left, we abandoned our plans for the afternoon. We were disappointed to miss the headliner, Ariella. Maybe we’ll catch her later at the Blue Rooster in Sarasota or the Clearwater Jazz Festival at the end of February.

We consoled ourselves with a walk in the park at Seminole Lake. This was the spot where I saw my first roseate spoonbill and I was hoping to see another but none were about. There were the usual variety of shore birds and a sweet duck couple.

Ladies first

Finally we stopped at Sprouts in search of evaporated coconut milk, which my hairdresser says is the best coffee creamer. We stocked up on their brand of coconut cream as well. Lots of yummy coconut for healthy brains! Of course, foodies that we are, we couldn’t resist the BOGO gluten-free crackers and Lilly’s stevia sweetened chocolate. And Plant City strawberries 3 for $5!

Our favorite band

Nick and Ari

This is my all time favorite musical group. They were called Ari and the Alibis, but they are now going by Ariella, whether it’s the full band or just Ari and her husband guitarist Nicholas Kraster. Ariella McManus leads the band with vocals, many her original songs. The following story of love and redemption is one of my favorites, Don’t be Afraid from the Home album.

Don’t be afraid

The group is based in Sarasota, but play all around the Bay Area. The photo above was taken at the Hideaway in St. Petersburg by Lenore Duensing, a brilliant photographer that was nice enough to share her front row table with us. I’ve also caught them at Caddies, both Gulfport and Sunset Beach locations and the Ale and the Witch in St. Petersburg.

Check them out at Ariellamusic.com

On the way to Mt. Dora…

Road trip! A short one, but full of promise. Mt. Dora is one of Florida’s hidden gems so we’re off for a ride in the country. It’a about two hours away from St. Petersburg but of course it took us longer. Our first stop along the way was a tantalizing produce stand in Okahumpka, preceded by hand painted signs , Strawberries, Tangeloes, Mangoes. So we bought strawberries, tangeloes and mangoes after the lovely Kristin offered us a sample of each.

We were almost there when we saw a pretty building with a sign, German Bakery. We decided it was necessary to take a bathroom break and maybe get a little snack. We left with spinach and broccoli quiche, apple strudel and a chocolate almond pastry.

Because we dawdled on the way, we were 5 minutes late for our golf cart tour of historic downtown Mt. Dora. We called and our charming new friend John met us on a corner and helped us find a place to park on the crowded narrow streets. One of the nice things about Mt. Dora is they don’t have parking meters. We were glad to see that the Van Gogh house was still starry starry, she persevered and won!

Our tour guide John was very knowledgeable and gave us the lay of the land so we could find our way back to the area off Tremain St. where we could walk along the lake at sunset. On the way we stopped at Tony’s Chowder House on Donnelly St. (also recommended by John). Our waiter treated us like guests in her home and guided us through the menu when we had trouble choosing from so many delicacies. We settled on their specialties: creamy clam chowder, spicy crab cake and juicy lobster salad with fresh Cole slaw.

Here are some pretty shots taken from our final destination of the day, Granthum Point Park.