the florida botanical gardens in largo

Places I could easily fritter away hours: garden centers and botanical gardens, seriously. The Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo are pretty neat-o.

A beautiful selection of camellias (thoroughly smitten with this shade of pink):

Camellia Florida Botanical Gardens Largo Florida

The Princess Flower from Brazil. Crazy-cool stamens on this flower.

Princess Flower Florida Botanical Gardens Largo Florida

And then this pale orange hued hibiscus. To spend a life surrounded by flowers is a pretty enviable one.

Hibiscus Florida Botanical Gardens Largo Florida

sunny side up

One of my dearest friends invited me to come hang out in #Florida for a couple days, so I got in my little car and headed south and east. The drive from Jackson to the Sunshine State is a bit long (about 11 hours), but the experiences and sights are pretty interesting.

Got brunch at Shore in #Sarasota, and it’s impossible to go wrong with a sunny-side up egg, avocado, and tomato sandwich.

Shore Restaurant Sarasota Florida

Stood under some beautiful Spanish moss.

Spanish moss Sarasota Florida

Also stopped at Bradenton Beach, and the sand is powdery soft. This little guy didn’t seem to mind us taking photos. Life’s a beach.

Egret Bradenton Beach Bradenton Florida

the pulse quickens

Chicago. I lived there for 25 years and still call it home. For the time I’ve lived in Mississippi, I have made a point to visit home several times a year to spend time with friends and to check on my brother. And there’s just something about Chicago, or perhaps big cities, that makes my heart beat faster. The pulse quickens.

I visited last month and saw beautiful lights at O’Hare:

Holiday lights O'Hare Airport Chicago Illinois

Escaped the chill of December a couple times to get hot cider and coffee with friends. This is the Avondale Coffee Club (excellent cider), a newish coffee shop on Elston near Belmont:

Avondale Coffee Club Chicago Illinois

And Buzz Café in the Arts District of Oak Park:

Buzz Cafe Oak Park Illinois

To get my fix for flowers and plants and to appreciate all things green, I headed to the Garfield Park Conservatory where the theme of the Holiday Flower Show is Tickled Pink:

Garfield Park Conservatory Chicago Illinois

Heart.

the manatees of homosassa springs

The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) might be my spirit animal, if I could claim one. Manatees prefer sandy coast lines, warm waters. They eat a ton of vegetation. Like me (at least for the time being), they move pretty slowly. They also look like they know how to relax.

Manatee Homosassa River Florida

It was a bucket list item to observe a manatee–multiple manatees if I was lucky–and the payoff was this past weekend in Homosassa, Florida. The freshwater springs at the wildlife state park in Homosassa attract manatees when Gulf waters start to cool–from roughly November through March.

My parents and I traversed our way over a bridge to find 40+ manatees warming themselves in the shallow waters of the Homosassa River. Pretty cool. In this photo, a pair can be observed in the lower right corner.

Manatees Homosassa River Florida

These creatures are massive–weighing between 1,500 and 1,800 pounds each. They use their large, paddle-shaped back tails and front flippers for navigation. Every 10 minutes or so, they come up for air and make a fun snorting sound.

To read up about the state park in Homosassa and possibly plan a visit, click here.

an afternoon in talladega

Two months ago I was heading east on Interstate 20 through Alabama. Cartersville, Georgia, was my intended destination but I had some time to kill. And then there was an upcoming sign for the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame. I don’t know boo about motor sports but thought the hall of fame could be interesting. Not my cup of tea, as it turned out. But the town of Talladega? Pretty interesting.

The courthouse square is a historic district, and you can find the Ritz Theatre there, which was constructed in 1936. An Art Deco beauty by any standards. The opaque structural glass exterior has been meticulously restored, and the lines and colors–so crisp.

Talladega Ritz Theatre

And there’s also a Silk Stocking Historic District. The term silk stocking sounds potentially tawdry, but this type of district generally refers to a part of town where wealthier citizens are¬†politically influential or active.

Silk_stocking_lg

Some of the properties in this district are lovingly maintained. Exhibit A:

IMG-0556

And Exhibit B:

IMG-0559

How lovely.