I am not in the least bit embarrassed to admit that I acknowledge my inner child and frequently allow her to come out and play!! I love blowing bubbles and reading fairy stories. I often watch the movies The Secret Garden, The Chronicles of Narnia, Fairy Tale – A True Story, and The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns.
When I watched the first Harry Potter movie I fell in love with the scene where the character Hagrid takes Harry to buy his first magic supplies. As they walked through that brick wall into Diagon Alley, I SO wanted to be able to go there, or at least someplace like it. I want to own a bag of fairy dust, and it takes all my willpower not to get in line to go into Santa land in the Mall at Christmas:-).
So last night as we prepared to say goodbye to 2009 I found myself with my husband in St. Augustine, Florida. To be more precise we were on Anastasia Island. (Just the name Anastasia gets me tingling with excitement as I remember the Disney movie of that name. Uh-ho, did I mention Disney……….!!) I walked with childlike anticipation to the pier where they were holding a New Year event.
Christmas lights lit up the whole area and I had to push my hands deep in my pockets because I so wanted to clap in delight and do pirouettes. There were lots of food stalls, but there were also various stalls that sold all those magical flashing light things that kids so love. I desperately wanted a pair of pink and violet flashing bunny ears and at least two or three of those tubular necklaces with the running flashing lights inside them!
I managed to contain myself by watching all the kids have fun with their “stuff” and living my childlike dreams vicariously through them. After walking around some, Rich and I went over to the boardwalk and staked out our spot for the firework display. As if to add to the magic of the evening a “blue moon” tried hard to show itself from behind a dense cloud cover.
As 8.30pm rolled around I could feel the butterflies in my stomach just dancing all over the place. Suddenly the big lights were dimmed and almost immediately with a flash and a bang the show began. Nothing and no one stopped me from clapping in delight now. The sky lit up with golden rain, purple, pink, and green flashes, rockets racing high up into the sky and exploding into huge, bright orbs of multi colors.
I know my eyes were wide, my mouth was open. I was caught up in the sheer magic of the moment. It was as though the hand of some gigantic goddess was splashing glittering paint across the sky and I was mesmerized! In some day-bright moments the sea could be seen roiling on the rocks below us, and we heard the sizzling of the foam as the waves crashed over each other creating an orchestrated accompaniment to the dazzling show above.
All too soon it was over. The sky turned dark once more and the sea was just a murky movement below us. The crowds dispersed and all that was left of the glorious light display was the acrid smell of sulfur that hung in the air. But my little girl went home very, very happy. And if I want to relive the moment I can always watch the great video that Richard made of the whole show!
I have already mentioned in another posting, Self Nurturing- GrillSmith Of Tampa, FL, that I really appreciate good food. I think the preparation of food is an art of its own. Good cooking is definitely a God-given talent. The skillful combination of the flavors, the colors, and the textures of different kinds of food along with the pleasing presentation to the client is as creative as painting a picture. So just imagine blending these two creative arts together!
In the past couple of months I’ve established a new routine for myself that brings me much joy. On the first Sunday of each month I go to St. Augustine, Florida to walk and meditate in the labyrinth that my friend Lorelei creates in the wet sand at low tide. It is a wonderful time of going inwards to my God-centered self. I shared that experience in a previous posting, Labyrinth Meditation At The Beach. What I didn’t mention in that posting is what I do before I get to the labyrinth.
Part of this new routine includes a stop at another location in St. Augustine to have brunch. It’s a restaurant called Zhanra’s which is just across the Bridge of Lions on Anastasia Island. Richard and I tried Zhanra’s about a year ago when we went to see Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman in concert at the St. Augustine Amphitheater. We had an excellent dinner and were very impressed by the menu choices, the presentation, and the good and friendly service. The prices were very reasonable too.
The restaurant itself is very welcoming and warm. The decor does not follow the usual pattern or design of most of the “chain” restaurants. It is very simple and unique. When you walk in there is a long serving counter on the wall immediately opposite the front door. To the right there is a very accommodating bar that has tall tables and stools where you can also dine, while to the left is the main dining area.
But what adds to the decor and makes Zhanra’s so special is the art work on the walls. It is bright and beautiful and very eclectic and showcases a great variety of artist’s work. These paintings are up for sale, so while you are eating you can also appreciate and even acquire a great piece of art. Because the art is sold, or because the artists choose to rotate their work out from time to time, new pieces appear from one visit to another.
An interesting feature connected to the art work is found in a corner of the main dining room. A small working space is set up and I believe that some of the artists come in from time to time to work on a piece while the diners are enjoying their meal.
When Richard and I made our first visit to Zhanra’s we knew we would be back again because it was very good and because it was different. So when we learned that they offered a Sunday brunch from 10am to 2pm we chose to make it a stop on one of our Harley rides. And we were hooked! We have been back twice as a couple and I have returned twice with friends and yet another time we both went back with a small group.
So let me walk you through the brunch process. You are seated by the host/hostess and a server takes your drink order immediately. Large and small plates are provided on the table and you can go to the buffet freely. However, we always wait so that we can put in our order with our server for waffles or French toast. I have never eaten the waffles because I am so addicted to their French toast which is, in my opinion, food of the gods!!
The long serving counter that I mentioned in a previous paragraph is laden down with all things scrumptious for the brunch. There is a chef at one end who will cook omelets to your specifications. As you proceed along the counter there are hot containers with quiche, grits, scrambled eggs, apple smoked bacon and sausages (my personal favorite!), fresh melt-in-your-mouth biscuits and gravy, and the best home-fried potatoes I have ever tasted. And just in case you need to start your brunch with a soup there are two offered, one of which is usually a great gumbo.
But it doesn’t stop there! As you turn the corner of the buffet counter there are several large trays. One is piled high with a mountain of freshly cut fruit in season. Another contains pre-cut bagels of every description, and beside that there is a tray full of different Danish pastries cut up into bite size chunks so that you can try the different types. Yet one more container holds muffins just to round out your choices.
All this for the princely sum of $9.99 plus drink. It has to be the best value and one of the best dining and creative art experiences that I have ever enjoyed. By the way, I forgot to mention that the art exhibits continue on into the bathrooms and Zhanra’s offers another creative art form too. Most nights there is different live music to enjoy. So go and satisfy the artist in your soul. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.