Thursday, June 25, 2015

An Ode to Florida : Reflecting On Our Year in St. Pete

We bid adieu to St. Petersburg three weeks ago and I've been meaning to write some sort of reflective post for nearly as long. But how do I sum up our year in Florida? Trying to do so is a bit of an overwhelming task but ... here goes.

We had our highs and we had our lows, that's for sure. The move to St. Pete was not a smooth one, nor were G's first days and weeks at his new unit. (Similar to our current transition to Jersey.) And I wasn't sure I liked, or would grow to like, living in Florida. (Kinda how I'm feeling about Union City right now.) But once we made it through some serious financial drama (that happened through no fault of our own), unpacked and settled into our apartment, and survived the brutal summer humidity, the hubs and I began to enjoy our new life in the Sunshine State.

We celebrated our first married Thanksgiving and Christmas (with a visit to the Oakdale Christmas House!), and rang in the New Yearin our pajamas, no less.

While I didn't cross everything off my Florida fall and winter/spring bucket lists, G and I did go on many, many adventures. 

Together we...

Explored indie biz-focused fairs (Localicious and Localtopia), partook in boozy events (Oktoberfest TampaGuavaween in Ybor City, the Gasparilla pirate fest, the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival, and First Friday, with tubs of beer, in downtown St. Pete), shopped for fresh produce at the Saturday Morning Market (here and here, here) and picked up pre-loved wares at the Brocante Vintage Market.

Fell in love with the Oxford Exchange and made multiple visits, for dinnerbrunch and a book signing, and sometimes just for the delicious coffee.)

Viewed world-class art (and stunning architecture) at The Dali, the Chihuly Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts and the Mainsail Arts Festival.

Enjoyed beachy days in St. Pete (Treasure IslandFort De Soto dog beach and the boardwalk at John's Pass Village), ClearwaterDunedin, and a Miami Beach.

Attended games to watch local teamsthe BuccaneersDolphinsRays and Lightningplay G's favorite sports (football, baseball and hockey, respectively).

Took a (BIG!) bite out of the Tampa Bay culinary scene, with visits to: 
Birch & Vine and The Canopy (day and night) at The Birchwood, 
Bella Brava (with the most enormous baked pasta dish you've ever seen), 
Cassis (for a light lunch and our one-year anniversary dinner), 
theAvenue (to cheer on the Chargers), Lucky Dill (for breakfast and lunch),
the restaurant at OE (for a gourmet brunch and dinner)
and even Bob Evans.

Sipped on... craft beers at dog-friendly Green Bench Brewing Co.3 Daughters Brewing
and World of Beer (Pup CrawlFootball SundaysThe Jackass!),
various varietals of wine at Try Wine and the Locale Market bar,
classic cocktails and Moscow Mules at Mandarin Hide,
and some of the best java around at Kawha Coffee.

Our favorite "souvenir" from Florida has to be the one and only Jasper, the furbaby we welcomed into our family just months after arriving on the Gulf Coast. But the best thing about our time in St. Pete, and the reason it ended up being difficult to say goodbye, was the people. 

The friends we made in Tampa Bay 
are what made it feel like home. 
Without them, Florida would have been 
a beautiful but lonely place to be.

At the end of May, I organized a going-away pool party at our apartment complex so G and I could see everyone one more time before heading off to Jersey. It was a sun-soaked day full of good food, strong drinks, inappropriate card games and lots of laughs. The perfect way to wrap up our year in St. Pete.

Until next time, Florida! Thanks for the memories.

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