For a Laugh

This weekend the Ayala Dog Rescue in St. Augustine, Florida, had their 3rd annual dog Halloween costume ball. It is a fund raiser with music, dogs, and of course, lively spirits. Take a gander at some of the participants..

Disco Dog
Hot Dog Dog

Mexican Dog
Captain Dog
Butler Dog
Dog From Outer Space
Corgi Dinosaur Dog
And tis the season - Halloween Dog
What a fun night for a great cause!

The Corazon Cinema and Cafe

This spot is truly St. Augustine’s corazon, (translation: heart in Spanish). Here on 36 Granada Street, a special cinema and cafe opens at 11:30 a.m. for a tasty fare daily. Movies begin at 7 pm. and there are weekend matinees. For specifics or 904-679-5736.

Live music and special events are conducted weekly with an assortment of games and fun things for the customer to do. On the night of my visit the St. Augustine improv group had a 2 1/2 hour show of folly. Here are three of the group members revving up.

Away from the maddening crowd of St. Augustine proper this is a great place to grab a glass of wine or beer and relax. They have wonderful sandwiches named after entertainers. My favorite is the Paul McCartney, a Reuben your taste buds will savor.

Say hello while there to Carla, the owner extraordinaire, with her knowledge of film and food alike. She hosts the St. Augustine Film Festival in her theater which will occur January 14-21st. Both a must see and do.

St. Augustine Film Fest: 10th Anniversary

For the last 10 years St. Augustine has been having a film festival with each year growing more. Occurring in January it draws folks from Florida and beyond. Tickets are reasonable, and with the potential of seeing 3 to 4 films daily, this is a steal. For those interested in more fare there are also parties and sometimes film makers appear to answer questions regarding their films.

This year the Fest awarded Joe Pantoliano a Lifetime Achievement Award. Joe is a character actor who has graced the screen with over 100 credits from films such as Risky Business, (in his youth), to The Matrix, to From the Vine, the opening night film of the festival.

Post film Joe took audience questions with the snarky wit he is known for. One of his 4 daughters, Daniella Sheppard Pantoiliano, showed two of her shorts at the festival with dad in attendance. Proud papa, 🙂 .

What were my favorite films this year?

  • Saint Frances
  • Balloon
  • Love in Suspenders

Perhaps you can catch them on Netflix, but better yet put this Festival on the calendar for next year. And if cost is a factor, we are always looking for festival volunteers.

See you at the movies.

Flagler Hotel now Flagler College

Henry Flagler put St. Augustine on the map. With his Flagler Hotel in 1888 he attracted the rich and famous to spend their winters in his opulent hotel which held a ball room, an elaborate dining room with orchestras playing as you ate, a swimming pool, bowling alley, and movie studio. All this for $100,000. for a 3 1/2 month stay. (This equates to $4 million in today’s currency).

As couples entered the Hotel they past the opulent gates and through a courtyard with a fountain spewing filtered water. It is a sundial with 12 frogs to designate the hours, and 4 turtles for seasons.

A gentleman would then open the door for the couple with the lady escorted to the ballroom to rest and have tea while her husband tended the cash payment for the stay.

Upon completion of arrangements patrons would be accompanied to their rooms with bags unpacked by one of the many servants who catered to their every whim.

As Mr. Flagler was a personal friend of Thomas Edison his Hotel was one of the first buildings electrified in the country. This was done with DC current and exploding light bulbs were a concern. Guests became fearful so staff were always in attendance to shut lights on and off until the Hotel was later rewired to AC current.

Chandelier with a clock designed by Thomas Edison in the background.

The Hotel is has one of the largest collection of Tiffany windows, glass, sculptures, and chandeliers, much of which is priceless.

It is a unique work of art and while it is now a dorm for freshman female Flagler students it remains flawlessly maintained.

In 1967 after Hotel closure the City of St. Augustine had decided to tear down the structure and make a parking lot. A distant nephew of Henry purchased the structure and made it into a female college. In 1971 men were allowed and as of today there are 2600 students taking coursework in 50 majors. Tuition is approximately $30,000. annually.

So, on your visit to St. Augustine be sure to stop by and take the tour. It’s one you will never forget.

Thanks, Henry for putting St. Augustine on the map.

Venardos Circus

learned of this St. Augustine event via Groupon and glad I did as it made for a fun New Years Day. The master of ceremonies was a young man, as is the troop, and he explained 3 years ago St. Augustine gave them one of their first breaks, and now they are a touring nationally. They are at the St. Augustine Auditorium through 1/5/20, so pick up a ticket if in the area. I am posting this extra blog in the hopes folks will, especially those with holiday visitors.

The circus began with a show tune extravaganza followed by a gal who twirled over 10 hula hoops on her 4 extremities.

Then there was fire-eating..

And a aerialist team who thrilled.

Followed by audience participation with ringing bells.

And my favorite the silks.

What a great venue for Florida seniors to bring their kids with kids for the holidays.

St Augustine: Aglow for the Holidays

From now through February St. Augustine will be brightly lit and on New Years Eve fireworks will explode adding to the oldest city in America’s charm. Here’s a few pics to savor..

Comfortable Trams guide visitors through the lights.

Or a wagon..

Or a carriage ride..

Purchase lights to add to the glow..

It’s fun for all ages young or old..

And even newlyweds..

In the square or in the street..

Come, enjoy and have a look..

Happy Holidays to all.

St Augustine: Daytime Visit Flagler College Kitchen and Dining Room Community Open House: Eco-Friendly

Today marked the community open house for the Flagler College kitchen and dining room renovation. While to some this may sound like small potatoes, (pardon the pun), to renovate a dining room encompassed in priceless stained glass Tiffany windows was no easy feat. All this was completed over summer break.

The dining room now has a food court with rotating menus from countries round the world. They also have deli and food service available for vegans, gluten free, and those with dietary preferences. These students make up 26% of the student population.

One of the main attractions to the renovation was the food digester. Everyday 200 pounds of food waste bound for the landfill goes down the drain. The digester makes this waste liquid even venting the methane gas, a by-product of the process. By 2025, 50% of food headed for the landfill will be eliminated by the digester. Currently the college is at 23% of goal. Cooking oil is also recycled and changed to a biodiesel.

The Digester – black piece middle of picture

Recyclable plastics made of a 50/50 construction of corn and plastics are currently being used in the kitchen and all paper products are compostable. Straws have been eliminated. To ensure students are aware of this eco-friendly environment training sessions are given three times a year.

Main kitchen

Student provide 25% of the kitchen labor with part time schedules of 12 to 15 hours per week. Schoolwork is always the priority.

Allergen free kitchen area

So final question… While the kitchen promotes vegan and salad bar entrees, what do you think the students favorite fare is?

Chicken nuggets

Guess Ronald McDonald won this one!

More pics of the dining room and later tonight.. the Christmas lights of St. A.

The dining room is also available for weddings.

St. Augustine Wild Reserve

And wild it was walking through caged lions, tigers, bears, coyotes, and the like. Our wonderful guide gave a 2 hour tour expounding on the intricacies of each creature viewed and how this valuable rescue center worked with and housed these animals.

Pictures were not allowed however they sell a thumb drive for those interested. I forgot to pick one up post tour as the Florida rains persisted. Bring a raincoat just in case, and if not they sell ponchos.

All folks except the founder are volunteers and what a dedicated group they are. Many develop alliances to the animals for years. Animals can arrive because of 3 different circumstances:

  • Over breeding
  • Seizures from animal rescue
  • Retirement from such venues as movies, several were failed actors.

There is no breeding at the preserve and animals stay till their final hours. Every tour is done as a feeding tour and the animals are fed according to their body weight and health needs. And they receive vitamins to boot!

No wonder it is the most popular place in St. Augustine to tour, but call for times and reservations. I found out about the place while exploring Groupon for things to do in St. Augustine and was glad I did. Children on the tour were fascinated. What a great family event.

And.. if you are so inclined they always need the following:

  • Bird seed
  • Bleach, dish liquid
  • Bubble Bath
  • Extra large trash bags
  • Rain ponchos
  • Bread
  • Blueberry muffins, unsalted nuts

Deborah Warrick – hat’s off to you. Reserve foundress and biologist.

The St. Augustine Wild Reserve

PO Box 3546 St. Augustine, Fl 32085


Dolphin Odyssey

Went with Red Boat Water Tours of Vilano Beach, (a stones throw from St. Augustine, Florida), on this Odyssey. St. Augustine is home to 240 dolphins who live here year round. No snow birds in this species…

These 240 natives were out in force today and while I was unable to get a picture due to their fast moves they certainly were looking at us. Dolphins are enormously curious and live in a pod which is a family unit. As they rose to the surface they “eye’ed,” us. Many babies were out in force traveling in two’s as they rose to the surface. Great fun for all on the trip, especially the children who had much knowledge of these creatures.

Photo by Jonas Von Werne on

This is just what they looked like.

Dolphins have an 11 month gestation and are mammals so they need to rise to the surface to get air. This is a learned behavior from mom and when she tires from the babe not catching on other dolphins in the pod help with the training . Nice touch.

Which brings us to the next question, how do dolphins sleep? They don’t because they have a right and left brain and can operate on either. When they get tired the other brain switches on. If only us humans could do that..

So, when visiting St. Augustine consider the Red Boat Water Tour. The Captain and First Mate Jennifer have a fascinating tour and the main attraction give quite a show.

Red Boat Water Tours operates from Vilano Beach Fishing Pier and run a variety of boat cruises. They are on Groupon but also can be reached at or (904) 436-3566.

Views of St. Augustine from the boat- the town, the Bridge of Lions, and the Fort Castillo de San Marcos