It’s official. I’m totally enamored with Florida. The longer I am here, the more I fall in love. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been away for an entire year, exploring Wisconsin, Belgium, and Arizona; but I love it even more.
There is something so indescribably charming about palmettos littering the forest floor amidst a sea of ferns growing in the cool shadow of massive live oak trees with Spanish moss dripping off the branches like a gray gossamer shawl, and long leaf pine trees reaching towards the warmest heavenly ornament hanging in the bluest sky you’ve ever seen. The heat and humidity (and horse farms and rivers!) only add to the charm.
It sounds pretty romanticized here; like an old Southern plantation from a bygone era, but it’s truly how I feel about this place I call home.
Maybe it’s because it’s January and I’ve experienced boots and sweater weather one day and swimsuits on the beach the next. After the winter I experienced last year, I appreciate it infinitely more.
For the last three years I have hosted Christmas supper. It’s usually a casual affair, no decorations, and nothing special on the menu. This year, however, I turned my southern belle charm up to 11 and went all out.
I decorated our screened-in porch (tucked quietly away in the midst of the Spanish-moss laden oaks and ferns) with twinkle lights, jute-wrapped mason jars with baby’s breath, on a bed of grapefruit and cypress leaves, with tea candles sprinkled tastefully throughout. We started with hors d’oeuvres and a fantastic seasonal sangria, and moved on to: country ham, roasted new potatoes, homemade yeast rolls, and pan-fried brussel sprouts (with bacon and a balsamic reduction!). Homemade truffles and coffee under the lights rounded out our evening. Magic.
New Years Eve was much the same, with the exception of quite a few more people, our best friends from Wisconsin as houseguests (with their sweet, squishable baby girl!), my own citrus sangria (with handpicked fruit from the backyard!), fireworks, and more than a little laughter. Even when CJ hit the closed sliding glass door with enough force to give himself a concussion.
We’re now on our second round of houseguests, this time its Josh’s parents! We don’t have too much planned while they are here, but I’m sure we will fill our time wisely.
We have been indescribably blessed this Christmas season, and my heart is very, very full. I’m really being intentional about soaking up everything in the moment; people, places, and experiences, especially as we enter a the last few months before going overseas.
Maybe “soak” should be my word for the year.