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Christmas is always a very exciting celebration among billions of people around the world. The traditional colors of Christmas decorations are red, green, and gold. Most people all over the world decorating their homes, putting up Christmas trees, families reunite to cook a special meal, exchange Christmas cards and gifts, while listening to Christmas songs. Some towns hold special events for kids and adults to enjoy.

As a Christian, participating in a religious service plays an important part in our family. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Attending church on Christmas Eve is part of our tradition and we enjoy celebrating this special event among people who are also celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ with us. Being a member of Tabernacle Church for the past few months now, we’ve had an honor to join them for a Christmas Eve Candlelight event. It was a spectacular and breathtaking.

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This is our second year celebrating Christmas in Sarasota. And let me tell you, it feels like we are celebrating Christmas in July. The weather here is warm, about 70 degrees. Sunny and breezy. Few clouds here and there, but overall a perfect time to spend a day at the beach, away from overcrowded places, to enjoy the sound of the ocean and bear your feet into a warm sand.

This year we decided not to attend any major events happening in the city, even though, there are plenty to choose from. Instead, we spending time just us as a family. Unfortunately, both of our families spread out all over the world, so it’s very hard to gather all together.

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merry christmas 2014
merry christmas 2014

On Christmas Eve, we all went to see Christmas lights at University Town Center, by a new mall they just opened up couple months ago. It’s less then 10 minutes away from our home and it’s free to see for all Sarasota residents or people who are visiting. Sarasota county did an amazing work this year putting up all the lights up on palm trees, bushes and setting up all kinds of exhibits around the area. We parked our car on the side walk by the mall and took a walk down the streets of Cattleman Road, taking pictures and enjoying each others company. If you are passing through or a resident here, I encourage you to see it for yourself. If you are hungry, there are a lot of good restaurants in the area to choose from with variety of different cuisines. Or, you can check out University Town Center mall, where you can find everything you need in one place, variety of different stores, coffee shops, food court and even a play area for small children to play.

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On Christmas Day, we spent our morning unwrapping gifts, it’s the best time of the year watching your kids faces light up every time they unwrap the gift. For breakfast, my husband cooked us some delicious waffles. After breakfast, all of us enjoyed spending time outside, watching Annabella riding her bike, while Angelika rode her scooter. In the evening, it was time to enjoy our Christmas Day dinner. Baked Ham with pineapple glaze, homemade mash potatoes with gravy, corn on the cob and stuffing. For desert, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.

We are so blessed to be able to celebrate this Christmas together, have food on our table, gifts to exchange, TV to watch and a place to call home. Of course, we miss our families and wish that we were all together this holiday season, but being so far from each other is very hard to gather everybody in one place. Let’s pray for those who are alone this holiday season, for those who don’t have a luxury of homemade food or a place they can call home and let’s not forget that Christmas is not all about gifts and a Christmas tree, but about the birth of Jesus Christ and spending time with family.

 How did you spend your Christmas? Share in the comments section below!
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siesta key beach

One of the most incredible bonuses living in Sarasota, Florida are the beaches. Siesta Key Beach was the first beach I visited and fell in love with right from the start. I enjoy spending my weekends at the beach with my family. Sightseeing is priceless. Splashing in clear blue ocean or just taking a walk down the shore, watching people doing whatever please them. Some of them are swimming, some are playing, some are building sand castles, some are exercising and some just sitting in their beach chairs enjoying the view, reading a book or just enjoying company of their friends and family. I spend most of my time in the water swimming with my oldest daughter Angelika. While my husband is relaxing sitting down on the beach chair, watching Annabella play in the sand. Life is good!

Siesta Beach (sometimes known as Siesta Key Beach) is a beach located on Beach Road on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida. With limited parking, along Beach Road, expansive Crescent Beach has been rated as one of the “Top 10 Beaches in the World”. Smack-dab- in the center of Crescent Beach is…the “public beach” known as Siesta Beach where Dr. Steve Leatherman, a.k.a. “Dr. Beach” awarded it… The #1 Ranking…above all other beaches in the U.S….including Hawaii! Even Florida Trend Magazine has named Siesta Beach “The Best Beach” in the State of Florida! Siesta Key is an eight mile barrier island graced with two more beaches, Crescent Beach and Turtle Beach…as well as exotic flowers, magnificent banyan trees and preserved mangrove shores where ibis, snowy egrets and herons claim refuge for their young. It is known as one of the most beautiful beaches anywhere in the world.

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In 2004, the Travel Channel’s Best Beaches in America featured Siesta Key as the Best Sand Beach…on the planet! The sand is 99% pure quartz, soft and cool on the feet. Even on the hottest days, the sand is so reflective that it feels cool underfoot. It’s estimated that the sand on Siesta Beach is millions of years old, having its origin in the Appalachians and flowing down the rivers from the mountains until it eventually was deposited on the shores of Siesta Key. As I step my foot in the sand, I feel like I stepped into a powdery, warm and soft flour. Except it’s all around me and it’s a lot of it. You feel it between your toes and feet. By far, the best sand you will ever see or touch. 

Shallow water depth in the near shore area together with year round lifeguard protection, makes this one of the safest beaches in the county and great for small children. 

Two bridges link the island to the mainland, allowing it to remain an uncomplicated natural paradise without sacrificing the amenities of contemporary life. The north bridge, Siesta Drive, is within the City of Sarasota and provides convenient access to the city, its business and arts districts, and to the Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport via US Highway 41. The south bridge, Stickney Point Road, provides access to south Sarasota County and a direct route to Interstate 75.


On Siesta Key you can do as much or as little as you want. You can enjoy fishing, boating, parasailing, kayaking, snorkeling and swimming. Approximately 1000 species of fish can be found in the Gulf, bays, lakes, rivers and streams. You can go deep-sea trolling, drift fishing, surf casting, bridge fishing or wading the grass flats. Non-residents need a fishing license unless you’re younger than 16 or on a boat charter. There are minimum lengths, limits and closed season restrictions. Licenses are available at the Sarasota County Courthouse or at local bait shops and sporting goods stores. You can also just dip your toes in the powdery sand, which I like to do and enjoy a good book or the amazing view, but don’t forget to keep an eye out for those playful dolphins. 

Siesta Key beach offers tennis and volleyball courts, shaded playground and picnic area, and convenient concession stands for a quick bite or a refreshing drink. Playground is definitely an added bonus for girls to play, while us adults are enjoying time to ourselves in the picnic area, cooking, socializing and sipping on refreshing beverages.

You can even borrow beach wheelchairs if you have visitor that needs help across the sand.

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If you looking for live music, exciting night life, shopping, restaurants that range from fine dining to the very casual eateries where flip flops and cover ups are all you will need, look no further than Siesta Key Village. For sure, one of the my favorite places to come for some fun and good food with my friends, my husband or my kids. And it’s in the walking distance from the beach. And if you’re lucky enough to be in the area during one of the festivals there’s no better place to attend an outdoor event. Most of the action going on after dark, where there is a handful of bars and pubs, all in keeping with the island’s tropical flavor.

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One of the most popular venues of Siesta Key and one of my favorite places to come seems to be the Daiquiri Deck, which is in ‘The Village’, as it’s locally known! Daiquiri Deck is popular to any age group, from retirees to those on a student break, and families alike. As the name suggests, the venue is home to many Daiquiri recipes, just to keep up with the tropical paradise theme. My favorite snacketizers are Calamari, lightly seasoned and deep fried, served with spicy marinara or Blackened Mahi Bites, bite-sized mahi-mahi blackened and served with Caribbean dipping sauce. There is variety of sandwiches, soups, salads and entrees to choose from. And don’t forget to order a daiquiri, my favorite is Pina Colada or Blue Hawaiian Specialty drink. “The Deck” is open long hours, providing a place to have lunch or dinner. It hosts a variety of entertainment, especially during Spring Break, when volleyball tournaments, bikini contests and parties will be found on the beach, and spilling into the Village.

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Another in ‘The Village’ of Siesta Key is The Beach Club, which is a trendy bar offering a fun retreat. Live bands are often featured, as well as cocktails and outdoor seating that keep locals and tourists coming back night after night. The bar also has many televisions to keep sports fans up-to-date on the latest scores! It is a popular spot for dancing the night away, to a wide array of different music styles. That’s where I like to get my groove on and dance the night away.

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Just a short walk from the beautiful beaches of Sarasota, Café Gabbiano brings Italy to Siesta Key. Café Gabbiano’s serene, casual ambiance imitates that of the paradise surrounding it. Café Gabbiano offers intimate, private dining in our wine rooms as well as comfortable outdoor seating on our climate controlled patio. Established in 2003. Café Gabbiano has called Siesta Key home for over nine years serving fresh, authentic Italian cuisine and an extensive collection of wine from around the world. My favorite is Parmigiana di Melanzane, which is eggplant baked with mozzarella, parmigiana, ricotta, fresh herbs and spices. Yummy!

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One of the most popular events to take place on Siesta Key is the Siesta Key Drum Circle. An event where I can get loose like nobody is watching. My girls also participate, while my husband enjoys the view and listens to the beat of the drums. This is a tradition that happens every Sunday night. It brings together people from all walks of life – die-hard hippies, stock market businessmen and soccer moms all join together to lay down funky music with maraca, bongos and other types of percussion instruments. BYOD – Bring Your Own Drum!

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If vacationing on Siesta Key in early November, you could see some pretty unusual sand formations. Not your typical sand castles but, World-Class… sand sculptures. You’ll see the best of the best…as Sand Sculpture Artists the world over, gather on Siesta Beach to work their magic at the Siesta Key Sand Sculpture Contest. Viewing the beauty and cleanliness sculptures look almost as if they were “carved in marble.” The Siesta Key Crystal Classic connects the arts and the beach in ways never before seen in Sarasota. Founded in 2010, the Crystal Classic has quickly become a local tradition and a draw for visitors from outside Sarasota County, which account for over 50% of the 35,000+ attendees. Master sculptors spend three days creating sand masterpieces, some over ten feet tall, and transform the always beautiful Siesta Beach into an outdoor art gallery. Visitors enter the Sand Sculpture Gallery and immediately notice the Sponsor Logo Sculpture and are fascinated by it size and the number of community organizations and local businesses that support the event.

Since, we live here, we never had an opportunity to experience accommodations here, but Siesta Key accommodations range from the simplicity of a hotel to the convenience of a week-long (or more) rental. From cozy, beach-side cottages outfitted with the basics to posh condominium complexes complete with every amenity imaginable, there’s an option for all visitors and budgets. Of course, no matter where you choose to stay, Siesta Beach, Crescent Beach or Turtle Beach are just a short walk away.

Siesta Key is not only a tourist destination, it is also a prime residential area. With miles of canals, lush tropical foliage and spectacular beach and bay views, Siesta Key is the perfect place for a permanent or seasonal home. Yes, I can say, we are the lucky ones to be residents.

There’s always something to do on Siesta Beach and it is all within walking distance, so with that said come and visit, enjoy your stay and I assure you that you will experience the best of what Siesta Key has to offer. For us, who live here, we are blessed to call this place our home. It’s truly, a paradise!

Have you visited Siesta Key Beach? What is your favorite part about it? Share in the comments section below! 
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Today, unfortunately libraries are not as popular as let’s say 15 years ago, where the only resource people had access to reading materials for free, is to go to your local library. A lot of adults and children today, own digital books like, Kindle or Nook, where you can download variety of books and magazines, based on your interest from the comfort of your home. The truth is, I don’t think reading eBooks is a bad thing to do, but in my opinion still painfully ugly and weirdly irritating to interact with. They look like copies of paper, but they can’t be designed or typeset in the same way as paper, and however splendid the cover images may look on a hi-res screen, they’re still images rather than physical things.
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I’m one of those few people, who don’t own a digital book, instead I take trips to a local library with my family every Saturday. The Selby Public Library was the first library in Sarasota County and was established in 1907. The current building is the largest public library in Sarasota County and serves the downtown district of Sarasota. You have access to thousands of books. Plus, media, internet access and magazines. The best part about it is that it’s free.

Since, we all have different interests in our family, we spread out to our own little sections, where we can browse for hours in between shelves to find books that we will enjoy reading. 

Angelika goes to Teen Center, where she spends most of her time browsing through hundreds of books, she also has Internet access that is available at the Computer Section, WiFi spot. The 30-minute use of computers is free of charge. When she wants to get more familiar with a book or books that she chose, sitting is also available at Teen Center.

My husband and I will take Annabella to a Children Center, where she has access to learning materials, variety of books, play area and internet access. Also, as a bonus she has access to couple of computers designed just for playing learning games, like reading, math and science. The Children Center also has a sitting area for parents and kids. I enjoy sitting down with Annabella and read to her, once she is familiar with a book, we take turns reading. It’s the best time and place to have that one on one reading time with your child. There are no distractions, it’s quite and let’s face it, books are all around us.

The Selby Public Library also offers The Friends Bookstore inside the library. They invite you to come in and browse among the thousands of books in every genre. You can also check the ever-changing sales. Stock up on your summer beach reading. Find interesting cookbooks, out-of-print classics and unique titles that defy a set genre. They are definitely tempt your curiosity and emotions and energize your mind with new ideas and a variety of interests. The prices are very affordable and the value is “priceless.” Bibliophiles travel from all over the country comes to visit them!

Besides books, The Selby Public Library also has access to hundreds of movies, you can find it in a media section. You have different picks from older movies to newer releases. Older movies are very hard to find today, since a lot of movie rental stores have closed, but some online services are available, like Netflix or Amazon, except you do have to pay a fee. Unlike library, it’s free of charge and you’ll have more time to watch it.

Self check out stands are also available, I personally like to use self check out service, it’s easy and fast. Library staff is always available to answer all your questions and to help you with whatever you may need.

If you just moved here or maybe lived in Sarasota for awhile and never visited The Selby Public Library, I encourage you to do so. Don’t forget to register to get your own library card. It takes less then 5 minutes to fill out a form and you have different designs to choose from. Bring your youngsters, it’s plenty for them to do and explore here. If you looking for an upcoming event or things to do in Sarasota, information stands are available at the front of the library as you walk in to the building.

Have you visited The Selby Public Library? What do you think about it? Share in the comments section below! 
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Hi, my name is Alina and I welcome you to my blog. I’m a wife, married to the love of my life, my husband Tony, a proud mommy of two beautiful girls, Angelika and Annabella, a friend, a daughter, a sister, lover of Jesus, butterflies, Florida state beaches, coffee and sushi.

I’m fluent in Russian and English and trying to teach my kids the same. I love to cook, travel, dance, sing, photography, makeup, fashion and most importantly spend time with my family.

I was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan a Muslim country, located in Central Asia. Tashkent is a capital city of Uzbekistan. The main city of Uzbekistan is a huge metropolis with a population of over 3 million people. The city is lined with a grid of straight and wide streets and avenues, decorated with emerald green parks, gardens, fountains imbued with crystal strands. Tashkent cafes and restaurants present delicious national Uzbek as well as European, Middle Eastern and Russian cuisines. Uzbekistan’s signature dish is palov (plov orosh or “pilaf”), a main course typically made with rice, pieces of meat, grated carrots and onions. It is usually cooked in a kazan (ordeghi) over an open fire; chickpeas, raisins, barberries, or fruit may be added for variation. Culture of Uzbekistan is one of the brightest and original cultures of East. It is inimitable national music, dances and painting, unique national kitchen and clothes. Summers are typically hot and dry. Winters are cold and snowy.

When I was 4 years old my parents moved to Silute, Lithuania. My dad always wanted to move there, since his mom was Lithuanian. Silute is a city in the south of the Klaipėda County, Lithuania. The town, which is a region center, has a well-developed infrastructure. There is an amateur theater, a museum, three churches, a few hotels, and many cafes, restaurants, and bars. The sole official language in Lithuania as well as the language you will hear the most is Lithuanian. The largest minority languages are Russian and Polish. Cepelinai meal, folk songs, Lithuanian basketball and the art of cross making are among the most potent symbols of the Lithuanian nation. Lithuanian cuisine is generally mild. Potatoes and rye bread are the staple foods and pork is the favorite meat, followed by beef and chicken. Seaside areas have traditional fish recipes but most other seafood is considered inedible. The average temperature in Silute, Lithuania is cool. July is the warmest month with an average temperature of 62 degrees. January is the coolest month having a mean temperature of 25 degrees.

After living in Lithuania for 7 years, my parents decided to move back to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. My mom’s family was living there, so she was very happy to come back, my dad not so much, Lithuania felt like home to him. Even till this day, I know my dad wishes we stayed. Since, I spend my younger years in Lithuania and went to Elementary school there, I primarily spoke Lithuanian. Even though I spoke Russian with my mom, I didn’t know how to read or write in Russian much. Going back to school was not easy. But as the time went by, it gotten better. After awhile, my dad stopped speaking to me in Lithuanian, so as the years went by, I started to forget the language I once knew. I’ve had an amazing life as a teenager. Lots of friends, great school, wonderful parents who loved me and given me the best care, knowledge and support that have made me to a woman I am today. I spend summers at my grandmother’s house or their summer house outside the city in the mountains. All my cousins, their mothers and fathers, including my grandparents and my mom were all there. I will never forget those days, best time of my life. My dad traveled a lot on business. 3 days before my 13th birthday, my mom gave birth to my brother Alen. He was the first boy born into our family among 9 females, not including my grandfather, my dad and two of my uncles. At that moment I realized that my brother’s birth was meant to be. Since my dad was working a lot and traveling, my mom was the one who raised my brother and I. Life in Tashkent is a lot different from the life in America. We didn’t have grocery stores, instead my parents did grocery shopping at the local bazaar. My mom cooked fresh meal every evening. We didn’t have a convenience of boxed, pre-packaged or frozen foods. My parents didn’t own a washer or a dryer, dishwasher or a microwave, I still remember watching a black and white TV. I spend a lot of my teenage years outside with my friends, helping my mom around the house and taking care of brother when my mom needed help.

At age 16, I moved to United States. My parents followed me few months later. Once again, I had to learn a different language, English. Learning English was easy, in a couple of years, it felt like I always spoke it. I graduated in July of 2000. I got married, gave birth to a beautiful girl, but after 5 years our marriage was falling apart and we decided to get a divorce. We realized that we are better off as friends then as a husband and wife. Till this day, my ex husband and I keep a great friendship between each other.

It wasn’t easy as a single mom, learning how to live on my own, working long hours, trying to make it through life. But I never complained. My family was always there for me, especially my mom.

I was working as a server in Italian restaurant when I met my husband in the spring of 2007. We got married on Valentine’s Day on February 14, 2008.  My husband is my soul-mate, my best friend and the love of my life. On May 28, 2008, I gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Annabella.

Our girls mean a world to us and I can’t imagine our lives without them. Being a parent is not easy, but we do our best to teach them how to live life to the fullest, love, succeed and believe that anything is possible.

Since, we moved to sunny Sarasota, Florida in January of 2013, I would like to share with you all about this beautiful place, paradise we now call home. I also would like to share my experiences living in the state of Florida and all the fun things you can do while visiting or perhaps living here.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading my blog! Please, don’t forget to subscribe via email.

♥ It’s lovely to have you here ♥
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magdalina1982@yahoo.com

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