More to do around Siesta Key in December 2008

Get ready to celebrate the New Year Sarasota style.  The outdoor festivities will take place along Main Street.  For more info: www.srqnewyears.com.

December 27th, make plans to attend the PAL Sailor Circus Holiday Show.  For more info: www.sailorcircus.org.  We’ll see you there!

Don’t forget to ride down Midnight pass for a spectacular light display.  Then head out to Grace Baptist Church on Bee Ridge Road (east of I75) for another incredible display.

Hope you made your dinner reservations for Christmas.  We’re eating at Columbia Restaurant on St Armand’s Circle.  A Cuban Christmas…yum. 

Have you seen this month’s issue of Coastal Living Magazine?  Toward the back is a story on St Armand’s Circle during the Christmas season.  Great article, but you really need to see the tree lit up in person.

It’s cloudy right now…hopefully our day will brighten up with sunshine soon.  Our relatives on my husband’s side have invaded Siesta Key from the north and they need to warm up, and I don’t mean with a cup of hot cocoa.

Yeah, just as I wrote the sun came out.  See ya.

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December on Siesta Key

What a packed schedule of events this month!

Not only do we have the usual stuff going on (tree lightings, museum events, symphony shows, church choir performances) but we also have family from both sides coming to FL this year to visit. 

Here’s a list of things you can do while you’re here in Sarasota this December:

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium: SANTA JAWS, December 6 from 12pm-2pm www.mote.org for info.

GWIZ: Toy Drive for Mothers Helping Mothers: Starting December 2 10am-5pm everyday until December 15th.  Bring your unwrapped gift to the front admissions desk.   Mothers Helping Mothers helps those who have fallen through the cracks by providing necessities like cribs, baby supplies, clothes and some financial assistance. They are an all-volunteer nonprofit dedicated to helping Sarasota’s families in need.

Also at GWIZ (my favorite kind of holiday fun): 2nd Annual Gingerbread House Building Competition December 20, 12pm-3pm.   Join G.WIZ for a tasty way to show off your engineering and architectural skills by creating a spectacular gingerbread house from graham crackers! Feel free to bring in your own creative and edible materials! $6 per family team.  www.gwiz.org for info.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens: Selby Lights in Bloom (we went last year and it was awesome).  December 11-14, December 18-21, and December 26-28 from 6pm-9pm.  Their Family Night activities are scheduled for December 13 & 20 featuring Santa, cookie decorating, face painting and other kid’s activities.  www.selby.org for info.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens:    Celebrate the 5th Annual Holiday Lights and Jungle Nights at Sarasota Jungle Gardens! Ten acres of lights will sparkle and dance and bring cheer to all who visit.  The 65 lighted displays range from season traditional to exotic animals like macaws and lemurs.Don’t miss the 21 foot three-dimensional holiday tree with over 4,000 lights and a 17 foot elephant in the Open Gardens!

Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails will be available for purchase to the adults by Bella Cucina. Holiday music will be provided by “Just Judy” for children’s entertainment. A snowball toss, marshmallow roast, and visits from Santa add to the festivities.  Check their website for dates and times: www.sarasotajunglegardens.com

Ringling Museum: December 4 6pm-9pm  Holiday Splendor to benefit the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve “Toys for Tots” program covering Manatee and Sarasota counties.  For more info go to their website:   http://www.ringling.org/special_event3.asp?id=2084   Also Breakfast with Santa, December 13 at 9am.  Reservations are requred – please call 941/358-3180 for yours.

The Nutcracker Ballet:  Florida Ballet Arts Academy Ensemble presents The Nutcracker at the Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple St.;  Sat., Dec. 6, 2008 at 7:30 pm and Sun., Dec. 7, 2008 at 2:00 pm
For tickets call (941) 955-3422.

Phillippi Arts & Crafts Festival: December 6 & 7 from 10am-4pm

Sandy Claws Beach Run on Siesta Key: December 13 at 7am.  From the website: The 32nd Annual Sandy Claws Beach Run will take place on 12/13. Registration begins at 7am. One mile fun run is at 8am. 5K is at 8:20 am. Pre-registration deadline is December 5. Pre-registration fee is $18 per adult and $15 per child. Race Day registration fee is $25. 5K age groups: 9 & under, 10-12, 13-15, 16-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, 85-89, 90-94, 95-99, 100 & over, Masters & Grandmasters Awards to overall male & female. Awards to age group winners 1st-3rd place. Ribbons to age group winners 4th-6th place. Register by calling Twin Lakes Park at 941-861-7275 or online at www.parksonline.scgov.net.

Sarasota Christmas Boat Parade of Lights: December 13.  Starts at the southern end of Longboat Key and ends at Marina Jack.  If you can’t make it, catch it live on Channel 6, SNN.

Sarasota Holiday Parade: December 6 at 7pm along Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.

Holiday Night on St Armand’s Circle is December 5 at 6pm with a tree lighting.

The Florida West Coast Symphony has a list of various performances this month.  A family concert “Home for the Holidays” on December 6 at Van Wezel PAH; “Mozart and Mahler” on December 12, 13 & 14, at Van Wezel PAH; and a celebration of holiday cheer on December 17, 18, 19 & 20, Holley Hall.  For more info: www.sarasotaorchestra.org.

And our favorite: driving through Siesta Key and neighboring areas to look at the lights at night.  If you’re coming to Siesta Key, drive over the north bridge (Siesta Drive).  There should be a great display of lights to your left.  Stop off in the parking lot just over the bridge and take a look.  You’ll want to drive through the Village and then down Beach Rd south to Midnight Pass and Turtle Beach.  The resorts have done a nice job showing off their lights. 

Other activities can be found at the Sarasota County Government website calendar of events: www.scgov.net

There are so many  other things going this month.  Hope you find something to enjoy.  Have a Merry Christmas.

I’m getting older

Yesterday I officially became a year closer to 50.  It was my birthday and I had a nice time. 

Gary and the boys took me to lunch at the Columbia Restaurant at St Armand’s Circle on Lido Key.  I actually requested it.  The Columbia is a fantastic place and I especially enjoy the 1905 Salad.  So now you know what I ordered.  Also good there is the Cuban sandwich but I’m not big on eating meat so I seldom eat it, but its a must to try if you’re planning lunch there.

Gary had to go back to work (no they didn’t give him the day off for my birthday) so the boys and I took off to Long Boat Key and stopped at one of the public accesses just past the fire station.  It was unbelieveable.  The surf was a little rough, the wind was kicking up loose sand (Hurricane Ike’s in town) but it was beautiful.  The surf line was filled with shells.  Mostly kitten paws so we decided to rename Long Boat Key as Kitten Paw Beach.  We’ve spotted many areas along that Key with multitudes of kitten paws so it was fitting.  Along the upper shell hash were tons, and I literally mean tons, of sea urchins as far as the eye could see.  Wow!  I hustled back to the car and pulled out our 3 sand buckets.  We filled them all to overflowing and also carried some in our hands.  There were tiny ones, huge ones and a lot of broken ones we just left.  They must have been there for a few days because they were dead as dead could be.  Most with deteriorated innerds so it’ll be easy to clean them.   The beach was lined by a vacated condo building (all the units had their hurricane blinds on) and a few small homes and a vacant lot so no one had been in the area, except a few folks on their daily walks.  I should go back once Ike leaves our neck of the Gulf, and get some more.  Sea urchin tests are so cool.  Sometimes you can find one with the spine well preserved and if you handle it ultra carefully and soak in tap water until clean the spines may stay on.  I have a few like that…thankfully unstinky. 

So what am I going to do with all of these sea urchins?  What am I going to do with all the shells and sand dollars I’ve been collecting?  Who knows.  But I’m open to suggestions.  Want to buy them?

So we were heading back and crossing over the north bridge to Siesta Key when a common thought of mine popped in my head…it would be so cool to have a sail boat.  I used to sail competitively on other people’s boats on the Chesapeake Bay before I met Gary and began my adventure across the country.  I saw a boat in the bay and it was beautiful.

The boys presented me with my gift.  A bouquet of flowers and a small wooden sail boat…for the coffee table or book shelf.   I got my sailboat!  I was amazed.  What a really cool coincidence.  I’ve always admired the wooden sailboats people display in their homes and always wanted one.  Somehow, though, shoes and haircuts and groceries always trumped any purchase of a wood decorator sailboat.  I guess my family thought it was about time I deserved it.

After a delivery of flowers from my in-laws (oh, so pretty) we finished the day at Bonefish Grill for dinner.  I ordered the grilled shrimp and scallops.  Yum!