We had to hurry home for husband's Thursday and Friday night classes, but turns out, Portland is undergoing the craziest snow storm in several years and it was a small miracle that we were able to get home from the airport in it (took 3 hours, and all we had was our Florida clothes in the 19 degree weather)--needless to say, classes were canceled both days and turns out if we had known the future we could still be in Florida, not missing class but missing this insane weather! Oh, well. My office is closed today and the company winter party scheduled for tomorrow is also canceled. This means, essentially... we are STILL on vacation! Sweet! (Gotta love the out of office email reply! I've been pretty disconnected all week!)
But back to winter in Florida. Daydream a little with me, eh?
We started out in Orlando, where one of my cousins lives (my aunt and uncle split their time between a lovely home in their daughter's neighborhood, Baldwin Park, and a waterfront home near my other cousin in St. Petersburg)... we got to meet both cousins' 2-year-olds, and have a relaxing day enjoying the New Urbanist, redeveloped neighborhood.
We then headed out to the St. Petersburg home for some more relaxing, this time with dolphins jumping in the channel of the Tampa Bay that their home backs up on. We saw dolphins 3 or 4 times (once on the boat around the bay), with them even swimming under the dock beneath our feet!
That's Herald, the heron that frequents their house. We fed him some small fish that we caught (we learned to fish!) and saw him every day!
This was the first big vacation we've done in a while with my husband and my mom and dad. So so nice to relax with all of them!
How amazing to wake up with this beautiful view outside the screen porch every morning! Soooooo peaceful.
We did a loop at a very cool nature preserve near Bradenton, too. So much (and so different) wildlife in Florida! Crabs and crazy birds and big fish...
Back at the St. Pete house, here is just one of the many dolphin photos I took. There were four of them, little ones (babies?) jumping and playing together outside on the second morning. We would hear the big splashes, then run out and look, and call back "Dolphins!" to everyone inside the house! Family dolphin-watching time.
We took my uncle's boat out on the bay...
I got the front seat, so this was my view!
We met some other relatives at Mazzaro's Italian Market, a super cool place in St. Petersburg. It was packed around lunchtime and we had fun exploring the shelves and olives (and entire wine and cheese room) and got some delicious sandwiches (hold the bread) from the deli counter. And I got to pull out my favorite dress from last summer--the little white dress with eyelet panels! So, for the How to Wear DIY portion of this recap... ;)
Bag: Old Navy. Sunnies and necklace: F21. Belt: Target via Goodwill. Watch and sandals: Ross.
Dress: DIY, here!
We also got to visit the Dali Museum. I'd been once before, in 2009, but I don't remember it being this big and beautiful! And it was cool to show husband, who hadn't been before.
Later, on our way back toward Orlando before going home, we went to Columbia, an incredible Cuban restaurant in Ybor City near Tampa. My mom had gone there in high school/college, and it's still there--the flagship location, takes up a whole city block and includes 15 dining rooms and seats 1,700 people! There are now a lot of them across Florida. Great food and great experience, especially in this very cool, very old building.
And then we went back to Orlando and had a nice dinner with my cousin before heading home again. My parents are still there, doing more cool Florida things while I sit in my house with 6" of snow outside and adjust to the crazy shift in scenery. Isn't this snow insane?! It was so cool to have a break from it, but remembering now that spring and warm temps here are still a long ways away!