Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Hour with the Carpouzis'

Art and Hedy joined our Peace River pickleball family just last year when Rich and I put a paddle in their hands.  Today they play every day, and Art has even taken to the tournament circuit!  But tonight pickleball and non- pickleball friends  alike joined together at the Carpouzis' site for Happy Hour.

Pictured below are our hosts for the evening, Art and Hedy, making sure everything is prepared and chatting with friends that stopped by.   (top left ) Hedy makes sure everything is ready and  calls the group to enjoy the huge array of great food and goodies.   (top right) Art, joins Jay and park manager Lee Collins as they fill their plates. (bottom left) Debbie stops by to chat with Art, at that's Hedy with neighbors Taz and Carroll.

I thought I was the only one that didn't know enough to put a jacket on when it's cold - but it looks like I have a follower in Hedy!!  From every one's attire you can tell that it was a rather chilly evening. 

A few more faces in the crowd:  Rosemary and Garf

Bob, and I missed a picture of Julie!!!  Archie and Janet..
Bob and Julie just pulled in the park this afternoon.

Nick and Tonya

Karen and Tom
Brenda ( works in the office) with Krystal and Nate.
Dick and Janet...........who also just pulled in today.

Jay and Debbie.......

The food was absolutely great -  Hedy made a big pot of Clam Chowder that was probably my favorite...... There was Sausage, peppers/onions, Goulash, Broccoli Casserole,  Italian breads, some excellent dips with crackers or chips and tons of goodies for dessert!  

We had a great, fun group out for the evening despite the pretty chilly weather! 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day

Yes Santa came and brought us lots of goodies.   Exchanging gifts for us is generally just filling a stocking.  Larger gifts are something we both can use or share. 

But it's the spirit of Christmas, not the gifts under the tree that we celebrate.  It's the joy of spending time with family and friends.  With Denny and the family so far away - it was their phone call that made our day.

Rich and I are great animal lovers - and waking up on Xmas morning when we had Beau was something we always looked forward to.  He was always so excited about opening his presents - just like all little ones are.

We didn't have Beau this year - but we were blessed to have the chance to spend the day with one of our favorite canine friends.  Little Miss Ava.

Nate and Krystal took off for Orlando to spend the day with family, so Ava spent the day with us.  What a special little lady - so well behaved and such a joy to have around.
In the afternoon we met up with this handsome fellow who was out walking his Mom - Karen.    This is Sammy!
And we received Holiday Greetings  from Dixie and Dusty over in Sun City Center.  Below they wait patiently for the OK to dive in and open their gifts.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Our plans for Christmas Eve were to stay at home.  We  were planning a dinner of pasta, salad and Italian bread, and perhaps a glass of Blackberry Merlot. 

I spent a good part of the morning (with the exception of about an hour and a half for pickleball), baking and making some peanut butter and chocolate fudge, and Rich made a large batch of his potato candy.   It was about time to start the spaghetti sauce when Tonya stopped by and asked if we'd like to join them,  along with John and Shelly for dinner. 

About five o'clock we headed to Paul's Kitchen. (Where else?)  When we arrived, Shelly realized that she had left her purse and phone on the table back at Nick and Tonya's - so John headed back to the campground! 

 But leave it to John to make a grand entrance!  Below, he stops to flirt, just a little, with our waitress, Michelle.

The meal was excellent - everything from stuffed grouper, teriyaki steak, steak tips, beer battered fish to the big fish (shore) platter.   Around the table starting on the left is Nick, Tonya, Donna, our waitress Michelle, with her Rudolf antlers, Rich, John and Shelly. 

Nick and Tonya invited all of us over for a little holiday cheer which included Eggnog with a little spiced rum.  Neighbors, Nancy and Jerry, and Gerry and Lee joined the group.  Sitting around the campfire we took turns sharing a little of the true meaning of Christmas; Celebrating in the birth of Christ and giving thanks for the many gifts and opportunities that life has provided.  Most precious is being with the people we love - be it family or new found friends. 

I sure do hope I've been a good girl and Santa comes to visit tonight!  Should I leave out the milk and cookies? 

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday night campfire..........

We were invited back to Nick and Tonya's to share some snacks around the campfire.    Pictured below starting top left:  Bill and Genny.  We remember these two from last year -  Genny  shows off her  homemade 'redneck' wine glass!  That's Nancy and Jerry on the right.  They are parked next to us, and have been for the past couple of years, and this is the first time  Nancy and I have met.  In the center are our hosts for the evening, Tonya and Nick.  Bottom (left) is Bill and Judy and our pickleball friends from Palm Beach, John and Shelly!

Any happy hour with John in the crowd is sure to draw a lot of laughter, and tonight was no exception.  Tonight it was one of my favorites - The moon is has two eyes, a nose and a mouth.........Oh, if it was only that simple.  Unfortunately - I'll just have to keep you's just not the same unless John is there!  Suffice it to say - that we all took turns trying to "copy" John's process of drawing the moon in the sand. 

 And tonight Bill (of Bill and Genny) celebrated his 79th birthday, and below Nick presents his cake.  After blowing out the candles - we all share this sugary delight!

A small group - but lots of conversation and laughter.  A fun night was had by all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh ............that pickleball can hurt!

  And they say picklebll is a fun, safe game.....

This is the inside of my right leg.  I knew that it hurt when I got hit - but overnight it changed to a nice bright purple!!!!

Who did the damage you ask.  While Nate had managed to  freckle my body with many a black and blue mark......

That slam from Rich accounts for my largest one to date!!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A night out with friends.......

Over the past year, we've gotten to know as "annuals" here in the park, we seem to be spending a lot more time together.  But in just a few days they'll be leaving for almost three weeks tNick and Tonya a whole lot better, and this year, since they joined us o visit with friends in the Orlando area.

So tonight ( instead of going to Bingo, which is where Tonya and I usually are on Monday evening) the four of us headed to Sebring for dinner at  Homers Original Smorgasbord.

Most anyone who's ever been to Sebring has been to Homers at least once. It's a little better than 1/2 hour drive from the park, but well worth the travel. 

We all made at least two trips to fill our plates and  the food tonight was just as delicious as we remembered it to be.  Before leaving the waitress was kind enough to snap a picture of the four of us. 

Nick had mentioned, when we made plans to go to Sebring, that perhaps we could go checking out some Christmas lights after dinner.  I remembered from visit to Tanglewood a couple of years ago the community of Sebring Village always had a beautiful array of decorated homes.   So we headed for Sebring Village.......and we were definitely not disappointed.

Below are just a few of the pictures that I took as we spent nearly an hour driving through the streets decorated in true holiday style.

Some of our favorite "blow up" decorations..............   But I didn't see my name on Santa's list below.   I sure hope I've been a good girl!!

This one brought back memories of our visit to the North Pole when our son Dennis was small.

In the center of the community is this large pond.  There was a walkway that allowed to get a little closer and get some nice shots of the lights all around the water.

And so we closed the evening with another picture of Nick and Tonya before we left the village and headed for home.   It was a cool night..........but perfect for sharing a little holiday cheer with friends.

Monday Morning Pickleball

Generally I am working in the store here at the park Monday - Friday, so I don't get a chance to play in the morning, except on the weekends.  But, I worked for Pat (of Pat and Woody) Saturday night and all day Sunday while they went on  their Carnival Cruise to the Bahamas!  So this morning I headed down to play with some new folks.

Below is Debbie, Woody and Garth................  Nice to see Debbie back on the courts.
Here is Judy and Debbie resting after the game.  Judy just learned to play this year and is doing very very well.

Garth and Woody resting before their next game........

Another new pickleball player that we met this year is Cindy - playing below with Karen.  A really good player........and it was nice seeing her and hubby at the Christmas dinner yesterday.

Mr T (Travis) and Baxter arrived back here in the park on Sunday - so Travis joined the group this morning.  Below  he partners up with Karen.
And I wish I could remember this gentleman's name who is playing with Woody.  He is new to pickleball, just learned how to play and he partners up with Woody in his very first game.

Not a big group out playing this morning - but we sure had a great time.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Dinner at Peace River

It always seems to take so much work to decorate and create the holiday atmosphere.  After days of preparation and planning- it's over so quickly. 

The Activity director here at the park worked just about non-stop the last couple of days, getting the room prepared and decorated, baking the turkey and ham and stuffing and gravy and hoping that everything would come together . 
And from this picture you can see that well over 100 people filled the meeting house and filled their plates in record time.  The day was very well organized, the array of food was fantastic and the smiles and full bellies was a sure sign that everyone enjoyed the day.  We tried to get around and at least say hello to people we knew.
Below is Rich with Nate and Crystal....... two special people we always like to spend time with.
And joining us at our table today was Jen, Tonya and Nick (pictured below) along with Judy and Jim who left before I snapped this picture.  
It's always a great time when people here at the park get together, but it's always extra nice to be able to celebrate and share the table with your friends.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hometown Holiday in Downtown Wauchula

It was a real hometown celebration in downtown Wauchula tonight during this month's Friday Night Live.   Main Street and Wauchula's Heritage Park was glistening with decorations, lights, holiday music and live entertainment.

We had played pickleball until almost 6:00, finished dinner and headed for Main Street.  By this time the festivities were well underway, and trying to get anywhere near the "main attraction: was pretty much impossible.  So we headed on down Main Street taking in the crowds of people visiting vendors and attractions along the way.

Earlier in the month there was a huge parade in Wauchula.  Even Peace River participated with their very own float - specially decorated by our friends Buddy and Diane.  I think this float may have been one that was included in the parade.  This  one below is  Hardee County's 12 Days of Christmas. 
There were more vendors than we'd ever seen at any Friday Night live.  Perfect for those looking for some unique holiday gifts.

At the end of Main  Street, we stopped at the very last vedor ... This was actually the very first we'd seen last year, the first time we came to Friday Night Live in Wauchula!    Once again we spoke with Barry and Jill  Edgley, the couple  we worked with last year when we did the benefit tournament for the Hardee Animal Rescue Team.  This year they are  running  the Trust Again Pet Shelter (TAPS), where they currently board stray cats, but continue to secure funds to build appropriate shelter for dogs.  Tonight, at their booth, they had several cages of cats, but these little ones really caught our attention!

From 6:00 to 8:00 pm - Santa was awaiting the arrival of the children of Wauchula.  They sat on his lap and professed to be "good" and asked for their favorite holiday gifts. 

These two handsome gentleman dressed in appropriate garb, were promoting the upcoming Power and Light Production of "The Story of Noah" which will be presented right here in Wauchula in the Spring.  You can CLICK HERE for more information. 

Keeping with the true meaning of Christmas, Real Life Church  hosted a Living Nativity Scene.  Children and adults alike entered into the area to visit with the Three Wise Men along with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus in the stable.  It was like experiencing that  Join the Wise Men as they visit Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in the stable.  It was like getting a glimpse of what that very night might have been like.
Complete with donkey............

 And goats.  The children were truly enjoying this experience.
I so wish that we had been able to arrive earlier and brought along our chairs to sit and enjoy the "Spectacular Living Christmas Tree" performance by the First Baptist Church of Wauchula.    The performance ran from 7-8 pm, but we could not get anywhere near close enough to fully appreciate this 30ft tall tree housing 70 choir members and a fantastic show of lights.

The first picture below - was the best we could in the dark, but you can see the choir members on each branch of this beautiful Christmas Tree..........

And from a little different angle - No way were we able to get any closer.

There were hundreds and hundreds of people between our camera and the tree - and but here are a few shots showing the great light show ...

This was without a doubt one of the most memorable Friday Night Live's we've attended here...... Celebrating the Christmas season here in Wauchula is definitely - First Class!!

The lines to the "Funnel Cake" was just way to long - so for the very first time, Rich did not get to feast on this greasy, sugary, delicious snack!  But we did not make it back home without stopping for a little something sweet.

This year, right next to Domino's Pizza, the Pure Magic Ice Cream store opened.  We have passed this place several times in the last two months, but tonight would be our first experience.  We expected to see either a little soft serve - or a modest selection of hard ice cream flavor and perhaps a menu for a milkshake or ice cream sundae like most shops.   I am so glad I was still carrying my camera on my shoulder.  This was quite an experience! 

Pick your ingredients and watch them magically make your favorite selection! 
They begin by pouring liquid into one of these large bowls.  Not sure, but looks like some type of "milk" product.  Add the ingredients you want and watch them mix.....Add a little "nitrogen" and watch them stir through the mounds of smoke.  And voila!    I had the butter/pecan and Rich ordered Peanut Butter/Fudge.  It was absolutely delicious!  You've got to try this place, if you are ever in the area.