Saturday, November 30, 2013

DECEMBER 1, 2013

It has started and will not stop until midnight 12/24.......the CHRISTMAS shopping season began in earnest last week.  Stores opened early and closed late as Thanksgiving gave way to profits for retailers.  The best buys are yet to come.  These next few weeks you will need a cart to carry your paper from the driveway to the kitchen.  So many inserts....have fun!!!!

With all your driving from store to store you MUST drive east on University and view the magnificent Benderson light displays on both sides of the road and inside all of their shopping malls.  I've lived in Chicago and Baltimore among other cities and have never seen anything like this!!!  Can't wait until 2014 when UTC opens and their CHRISTMAS decorations are up and running. 

There are several new dining opportunities along University.  I've written about some in the past few months:  Appolonia, Rev.el.ry, Infuzions, JPAN, Pei Wei,  Michelangelo's as well as old standbys Stonewood, Lucky Pelican and John dough. And now Demetrios is open  on University and Lockwood Ridge in the former Friendly location.  And don't forget Outback, Carrabba's, Carmel Cafe..........

Next weekend is the annual SARASOTA Craft Show Robarts Arena December 6-8 beginning from 10am til 6pm Friday and Saturday and until 4pm Sunday.   More than 115 Juried Artists will be displaying and selling everything from fine jewelery to baskets, painting, clothing, baskets, throw rugs and ceramics.  Admission is $9 adults and $8 seniors.  A weekend pass is available for $12.  You can purchase discount tickets on line by clicking here.

Also next Saturday, 12/7 from 11 am-8pm, you can enjoy the second annual BRADENTON Blues Festival.  This OUTDOOR event takes place along Bradenton's Riverwalk with performances throughout the day by Shemekia Copeland, Johnny Rawls, Eddie Shaw & The Wolfgang and many more.  Of course there will be food, drink, and many spectacular art vendors. For directions and information on artist appearance time click here.

It has been too long between trips to TOASTED MANGO,  but this past week I was treated to a wonderful birthday brunch at this unpretentious restaurant located on 430 N. Tamiami Trail 941-388-7728.  Prices are reasonable and the omelets divine.  They also bake their own biscuits and offer sides of fruit, potatoes or tomatoes are for one ridiculously low price.  Toasted Mango has added additional outside seating, but be prepared to wait most days as this cafe has become one of Sarasota's most popular spot for breakfast.  They also have a wide variety of lunch choices and are open daily 7am to 3pm.

iTN SARASOTA, an independent Transportation Network of volunteers giving rides to seniors who can no longer drive is celebrating its volunteers as are  most organizations this month with a luncheon at Plymouth Harbor on Thursday, 12/5.  If you are interested in volunteering a few hours a week with iTN  then click here to learn how you can get involved.  Hats off to all faiths food bank as well as all the other organizations honoring volunteers this week.  SARASOTA depends on its many volunteers to provide you with services beyond the normal.  Ushers at Symphony, Van Wezel, Opera House......ALL volunteers...public library...Mote get the idea.  Thanks to each and every one of you who make living in SARASOTA so great!!!!

At the beginning of the fall television season I recommended American Horror Story, a show that has been a favorite of mine since its debut in 2011.  I am sure most of you don't watch due to its bizarre story and violence as well as horror; however, it has become the all-time watched show on FX and is 75% ahead in audience from last season.

Taped in New Orleans,  Coven, this year's theme about witches, both young and old, features an all-star cast including Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidlbe (star of Precious), Emma Roberts and Frances Conroy and many more.  It is a hoot to watch and if you are looking for something fresh on TV during the holiday re-run season go to On Demand and check this one out.  Even my violence shy wife is watching and enjoying.

NBC is offering a live stage version of The Sound of Music, Thursday 8-11 as well as their annual Christmas in Rockefeller Center at 8 the night before.

The other night I went to my first SARASOTA ballet.  It was  brilliant, exciting and colorful.  With wonderful upfront seats provided by a friend we were able to see this first class company perform three sequences by Balanchine and Ashton.  I especially enjoyed the last as the corps danced to music of George Gershwin.  While this performance was at the Opera House, the next will be Circus NUTCRACKER December 20-21 at Van Wezel.   A perfect holiday treat or gift. For more information and ticket purchase click here.

Young Israeli pianist David Greilasmmer will be playing Mozart's Piano Concerto No.17 as well as conducting the SARASOTA Orchestra's second Masterworks series...SETTING NEW COURSES...this weekend, 12/6-12/8.  David is music director of the Geneva Chamber Orchestra and according to the New York Times..."has it in him to challenge, inform and delight audiences...the playing is exquisite.."Click here now to purchase tickets for Masterworks or any of the other remaining series.

JIM'S RANT....the holiday season should bring out the best in people, but as I witnessed this weekend, not really.  No one obeys the stop signs at major shopping centers, and no one stopped the gentleman I witnessed Saturday sampling soup at Whole Foods in his own cup.  He finally walked away..probably onto his next tasting.

Thanks to all of you who read and respond to some of my suggestions.  Just this week, two friends called to rave about INFUZIONS after their "wonderful" meals on Friday and  Sunday.  They read it here first!!!  Now is the time to go before word of mouth makes them one of our more popular restaurants.  Call942-359-3658 for reservations.   As always, a big hug to Tracy for making me look good.....Until next week.....JIM
Sights of the season at Benderson Shopping Center


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