spring has sprung

Around the country, the weather has been very unusual for spring.  One day it’s warm and the sun is shining.  The next day it’s snowing!

South Florida has had some very nice weather as of late.  (Sorry North East & Denver!)  This has lead to some really gorgeous flowers in the past 3-4 weeks.  I finally had the time (and gumption) to get out and snap some photos of these vibrant plants.  (And believe me, the bougainvillea IS on point.)

So, whether you’re looking out the window at white stuff, sun and green grass, or brilliant blossoms like me….enjoy the color below.  Spring is here!!!

Flame Vine (Pyrostegia venusta)DSC03369DSC03372DSC03374DSC03376.JPG

Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra)  Let me tell you folks….when these bushes are in full bloom, they are STUNning.  The color pops are out of this world, and everywhere you drive, you will see these intensely colored blossoms.

DSC03382DSC03386DSC03387DSC03379

This set of plants have been around for a loong time…as you can see with the size and quantity of blossoms.  When you walk under the pergola these are growing around, you feel like you’re in a fairy tale!

DSC03391DSC03392DSC03394DSC03398

DSC03415DSC03416

These little yellow lovelies were a cheery spot in the midst of a green spray.

DSC03402DSC03411DSC03468

Dombeya – Tropical Hydrangea.  These trees have beautiful pink clusters of flowers…and are great pops of color to the area.

DSC03429DSC03431DSC03433DSC03436

The smell of the blossoms of this Plumeria tree are AM-azing.

DSC03549DSC03550DSC03552

Even the aloe plant outside my front door got into the action.

DSC03557DSC03559

And last but not least….the most exciting one of all…Of course I saved the best for last 😉

My orchid is budding!  In a short time, I’ll be having beautiful orchid blossoms on my porch!  Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted when they finally open up!

DSC03568DSC03570

Have a beautiful spring!!

 

 

Advertisements

crystal clear water at rainbow springs

When you think of Florida, you probably dream of three things: Disney, palm trees and water.  Whether it’s the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, or the calm seas that make up the Gulf of Mexico, so many people come to Florida for sun, sand and the sea between their toes.  However, if you do some research, and travel a little ways off the beaten path, you’ll come to a lesser known State Park near central-west Florida.  Welcome to Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon, FL!

Rainbow Springs State Park has some interesting history, being several times over the years a privately owned tourist road-side attraction, complete with waterfalls, glass bottom boat tours and even a zoo!?!  Today, it is managed by the State Park Service, and for a mere $2 entrance fee, you too can enjoy the beauty of this place.

Mother Nature installed the first (and in my opinion best) attraction that this place has to offer.  A crystal clear, turquoise swimming hole that is out of this world beautiful!

2

3

I mean, come on….LOOK at how clear that water is!

DSC03301

The water is a constant 72 degrees, which is a bit chilly for this lady, who likes her swimming water to be the temperature of warm bath water…..but that didn’t stop lots of people from jumping in for a nice swim under the sunny sky.

IMG_2587

Because water is constantly flowing from the natural underwater spring, the color and clarity of the water at the headsprings area has this amazing turquoise color, and is soo clear you can see everything under the surface (including little fishies swimming around!)

In the summer, the State Park offers inner tube “rides”, in which you slowly float down the beautiful river, and get whisked back to your car by a tram when you arrive downriver.  This was closed when I visited earlier this month, but will open up as an attraction in the summer.  I do hope to be back to experience it!

For rent on site are kayaks and canoes, giving everyone a chance to glide along the calm waters.

5

IMG_2409

The park has picnic benches, a pavilion for large gatherings, large grassy hills that you can play frisbee on, and even a concession station, complete with hot dogs, ice-cream bars and nachos (the diet of all who wish to don a bathing suit 😉

On my visit, throughout the park, the azalea bushes were in full bloom, only adding to the beauty of the area.

IMG_2447

IMG_6761

The other part that makes this park so interesting to visit, is the historic side.  As I mentioned, it used to be a tourist road-side attraction, at one point having a zoo and rodeo.  You can see remains of some of the zoo enclosures, and posted signs describe to visitors how the area was used.

IMG_2439

IMG_2445

IMG_2446

The enclosures were a bit rundown and spooky, having been around for several decades.

IMG_2463

Some of the sidewalks even were stamped concrete to look like wood planks!

IMG_2428

And the last thing to see, but definitely not least, are the WATERFALLS!!!!!!  When this place was designed in the 20s, 30s, and updated in the 60s and 70s, several waterfalls were created to add to the allure of the attraction.  These waterfalls are so beautiful!

IMG_6807

IMG_6798

The falls are positioned along meandering paths that wind through the park.  The native plants around them are lush, green and full, making this seem like paradise!

IMG_6818

IMG_6787

Signs make sure swimmers stay where they belong…..;-)

IMG_2482IMG_2424

IMG_2418

I could have stayed forever, walking among the trees, hearing the water crash down on the rocks, and looking at the water everywhere!  If you are traveling through Florida and can take the time to visit, it is well worth your while!  I can’t wait to go back!

DSC03313

Success!!!

Today’s blogpost is a little different that the last two posts in subject matter.  But it is something I am SO excited about and I wanted to share!

I finally bit the bullet and purchased a food processor.  Well, let me clarify.  I finally purchased a “mini” food processor.  I HAD a large Cuisinart food processor, and have lovingly cared for it for many years.  (By “lovingly cared for it”, I mean to say, I have kept the huge, heavy, awkward to use, pain-to-clean-piece-of-junk in the cabinet for five years!)  Soo many recipes call for using a food processor to pulse, puree, mix or otherwise combine ingredients into fantastic dishes.  Every time I went to use it, I had to unpack half of my cabinet to get at the darn thing.  Then, lug it out (its heavy!!!), and unpack all the blade attachments only to be unable to mix the ingredients properly, thus making a HUGE mess, and ultimately, no fantastic dish at the end.

Enter…the Mini Food Processor.  (Yes, it deserves capitol letters.)

IMG_6596

I couldn’t give you a good reason as to why I haven’t purchased one of these before now.  I wanted one for such a long time.  My rationale is that I cook in small batches, so never needed the bulk of the full size processor.  And I figured, smaller == easier to clean!  Lastly, these mini processors are not that expensive.  Mine costs just under $40 MSRP, which ISN’T that much $$.  It’s win-win all around.

I finally decided to get mine at Target last week.  Guess what…..It was ON SALE!!!  So I got this beauty for only $32!!  (#SCORE!)

Side Note: I didn’t realize when I purchased mine in the store, but it comes in a TON of great and fun colors!  Check it out online!

Unlike my big momma machine, the mini has only four moving parts.  The base that plugs into the wall, the container you put the food into, the blade, and the top!  And they all lock/unlock with EASE!  I could do it with my pinkie finger if I needed to.

IMG_6600

Another reason I was so happy to get this was Homemade Hummus.  I have unsuccessfully tried to make hummus at home with the Big Processor and also a blender.  Both HUGE disasters.  I was starting to think it wasn’t worth it to DIY hummus.

You know whats coming…. Enter the “little wonder”.  I tried my hummus recipe on it, and BLAM-O!  Wonderful, amazing, PERFECT homemade hummus!

IMG_6606

IMG_6615

And to top it all off, the clean up is a breeze (very important, because I am a messy chef!)!  I am SOLD on this little miracle worker.  I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone and everyone.  Oh, and did I mention it could fit in a shoe box?  (small) And it’s soo light weight, a baby could lift it with a single finger (slight exaggeration).

Check it out for yourself.  You won’t be disappointed!  And with all the left over time you have from not de-cluttering your kitchen cupboard to get your big food processor, or all the clean up you have to do….you can enjoy a nice glass of wine with your delicious food!  I know I did 😉

IMG_6625

 

A Surprise Boardwalk Delight

About a year ago I purchased a book called “Hiking Southwest Florida”, in hopes I would find hiking trails that had thus far eluded me as I explored South Florida.  Unfortunately, “hiking” South Florida – well Florida in general – is more like a gentle stroll….a FLAT gentle stroll.  (sigh, the Rocky Mountains are calling my name!)

I’ve been slowly visiting the different walking, ahem, hiking paths suggested by the book, and last week I visited Six Mile Cypress Slough (rhymes with through).  I didn’t have high expectations for the place (it is a 1.2 mile boardwalk through native Florida scrub, and I’ve seen Florida flora before).  I was SO surprised how much I loved this place!  It is amazingly beautiful.

You pay a small fee to park (I paid $5 for the day, but you can get away with as little as $1 per hour).  No fee to walk the boardwalk or to visit the nature center.

IMG_6477

An elevated boardwalk takes you through the entire space, which means it’s a place which can be visited during the hot, humid, WET summer months.   The board walk starts through a man made patch of bald cypress, which was in its “bald” state, and eerily beautiful.

IMG_6587

 

IMG_6584

The board walk continues on to wind its way through native flora found in Florida.

IMG_6578

IMG_6552

In between the amazing scenery, I was pleasantly surprised to see a great number of animal friends!  This little guy was a baby, only about two to three feet long.

IMG_6509

This guy was a bit bigger, coming in around five to six feet long!

IMG_6540

Plenty of birds and turtles.

IMG_6505

A slick guy working on his tan.

IMG_6480

And in the back pond…..three of these little guys splashed around and amused all the visitors for five minutes!!!

IMG_6569

Because of the wet winter (and a recent rain shower), the base of the park was quite flooded, with a good 24″ of water.  Although unusual for our winters, it provided for amazing reflections of the massive trees above.

IMG_6500IMG_6555IMG_6559

I ended up spending over three hours exploring, taking photos, sitting and enjoying the wind, and feeling the warm sun on my face.  I highly recommend anyone to visit this gem, and I would love to see what surprises it holds in the spring and summer.

IMG_6512

 

Genesis

The beginning.

The first post.

My first foray into blogging; the internet; the public domain.

This is very intimidating.

I’ve written and re-written this first post about half a dozen times.  Certainly, this needs to be epic.  The first post needs to be fantastic, and inspiring, and interesting.  It needs to draw my reader in, so they will want to check back in and read more.

Truthfully…..I have no readers.  I JUST STARTED MY BLOG (duh.)

I don’t know what to expect myself.  I’VE NEVER BLOGGED BEFORE (obviously.)

I’m not sure what the tone of my writing will be.  I’M NOT A PROFESSIONAL AUTHOR (as if there was any doubt.)

So I’ve decided to stop beating myself up about making the perfect blog post.  And I’m just going to put this out there, so (finally) the first one is done.  And hope that things improve and get better from this point on out.

One thing, before I go.  I think I should introduce myself.  My name is Christina (aka Sunny).  This is my blog.  Written by me.  For me.  About me.  About my (sometimes-sunny) moments in life.

I hope you enjoy, and I hope you check back in again.  (Whoever you are.)

cropped-img_1945.jpg