Florida Life, The Husband

Going Deep

Carl has always loved the water.


He remembers going scuba diving in Lake Geneva with family friends, Art and Pearl Mix, and his best friend, Andy. He always thought it was a neat experience and he probably would have pursued it further with the Mix family if Carl’s family hadn’t moved to TN.


Carl recently found out that Art Mix lives about an hour south of us so he went to visit him on a Saturday morning. Art reminded Carl of his love for Scuba diving.

Art Mix

So with our move to Florida and a lack of home projects to keep him busy, Carl finally decided it was time to get certified and commit to scuba diving as his new hobby.


Carl spent the last two weekends at Sea Hunt Scuba in St. Augustine, taking classes, passing a written exam, completing two closed water pool dives and going on four open water dives at Manatee Springs State Park and Troy State Park on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Carl is on the far right.

He is very excited to be starting this new hobby and is looking forward to his first salt water dive with our friend, Russ, in Cozumel when we go on our next cruise with 20 friends from church next weekend!! I look forward to sharing more on his adventures and on our next cruise.


Praises, The Relatives

Happy 50th Birthday, Leslie!

Today is Carl’s sister’s 50th birthday!

Leslie, Jim and Carl as youngsters
I’m told this is one of Leslie’s favorite photos.

Luckily Sue stopped cutting Leslie’s hair by the time she was a pre-teen.

1979 – 11 years old

The first photo that I could find of me and Leslie was my first trip to Memphis to meet his family for Easter…I don’t recall if that was the first time that we met in person but I tend to think so.

1983 (11)
1983 – 15 years old

We became pen pals after that and I remember writing to her regularly from college. A few years later, she would be a bridesmaid in my wedding to Carl.

1986 (2)
1986 – 18 years old

We were both so young and pretty!

1986 (1)

A few years later, I would be a bridesmaid in her wedding to Tom Dufus.

1991 – 23 years old

What a beautiful bride!


With many miles between us and busy lives as young, married, working people, we didn’t get together often enough in those early years. However, her ex-husband was a pilot and they owned their own plane for a while, which they flew to our family reunion in Chicago to visit with us.

1994 – 26 years old

They visited us at our new home in Minnesota when we asked Leslie to be Zack’s godmother a few years later.

1999 – 31 years old

Single and living in the Memphis-area near her parents, we were so happy to reconnect with Leslie and draw closer to her after this time with more regular visits and conversations. Yay! Leslie celebrated her 40th birthday with her good friend, Lori.

2008 – 40 years old

We were happy to spend some time with her and the rest of the Miklas clan on vacation in Marco Island, Florida that summer.

2008 – still 40

Carl began to make yearly visits to see his parents and sister and enjoyed this special time with just his family.

2013 – 45 years old

We had a fun time hanging out at the beach and playing games each night at my boss’ beach house a few years ago in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

2016 – 48 years old

I am so happy to have Leslie in our lives. Although we don’t talk as often as I like and I would love to live closer together so we could visit regularly, I cherish the times that we do have together. Conversation is always easy and fun and we have a good time.

2017 – 49 years old

Leslie is sweet, funny, caring and usually so patient with her parents. We are glad that they have each other nearby to help each other out. I am happy to have her as my sister-in-law and friend. I wish her a fantastic 50th birthday and a peaceful and joyful year. Here’s hoping to finding your sugar daddy this year, Leslie! Happy Birthday to you!


Crafting, It's About Me, The Friends

Ladies Craft Night

I mentioned to a crafty friend at church, Sharlyn, that we were long overdue for a craft night but I had run out of ideas. She suggested making painted wooden signs and offered to provide all the materials if I hosted at my house. Deal!

This is the idea that she found online.

I didn’t have much to do other than set out some drinks and snacks for the 8 ladies that signed up to come.

Sharlyn brought the prepared boards and precut vinyl and the ladies affixed the vinyl to the boards. (It was actually a multi-step process that involved carefully removing the letters with tooth-picks to leave the reverse image, adhering transfer tape, affixing the vinyl to the wood and removing the transfer tape.)

From L to R: Alissa, Jaime, me, Melissa, Sharlyn, Claudia, Pat, Sara, and Michelle

Then we painted the words, using the vinyl as our stencil.

When we were done painting and peeled off the vinyl, we had lovely signs.

Here’s a closer look at mine.

Look how cute it looks on my mantel…

I love it. It was a fun night of creating and fellowship with some of my favorite people (although I missed a few women that couldn’t make it)! I look forward to hosting more craft nights with Sharlyn in the future.

Florida Life, The House

Our Oasis

The photos yesterday really made me aware of how much time, energy and MONEY we have put into beautifying our backyard over the past three and a half years since moving into our house. Since there was so little that needed to be done on the inside and since we live in Florida and so much time is spent outside, the backyard has been our focus. I just thought it would be fun to compile some before and after photos to truly appreciate the changes. I tried to take a series of photos with the same viewpoint.

Before (1)
After (2)
Before (3)
After (3)
Magnolia Falls House 051
After (4)
Before (2)
After (6)

And just for fun, here are some more photos of the rest of the backyard from different angles. It’s amazing how much the plants and trees have grown and really filled in.

After (5)
From the far corner of the yard, looking back at the house.
After (9)
This is walking into the backyard from the side of the house, standing by our shed. This cute little doggie is my new best friend that I am dog-sitting this week while her owners are on vacation.
After (8)
Here’s looking back at the area that I was just standing at on the right, by the shed.
After (7)
This is our grill area with the privacy screen Carl built, covered in luscious Jasmine vines.
After (10)
Looking at the lanai from the grill area.
After (11)
Looking at the pool from the walkway.
After (12)
One more view because I just stand stand the gorgeousness.

We have one more major project happening in the backyard sometime in the next month (stay tuned for an update) and then I think we will really be done. There really isn’t anything else that we can possible do but just float around the pool and enjoy!

Florida Life, The House

Pool Update

Magnolia Falls House 051
Our pool/backyard when we first moved in.

A basic plaster pool has a lifespan of about 10 to 12 years. Our pool is now about 14 years old and the plaster was showing signs of wear and tear, especially on the edges.


Here’s a close-up of the damage around the pool.


So I convinced my husband to bite the bullet and pay the professionals to resurface our pool over the past month. It was about a two-week process. They started with draining the pool and cutting around the edge of the pool tiles (I’m not sure why they do that…after all, I’m not a professional). By the way, to replace the pool tiles would have been an extra $2,500 so we opted not to do that. I don’t mind the tiles that are currently around the pool. 


Then came the acid washing of the pool surfaces.


Next came patching and plastering over the entire surface of the pool.


Finally it was time to resurface the pool. We paid extra money to use a cool, variegated pebble finish instead of plain plaster. The pebble finish has a 25-year plus lifespan so we will definitely not have to resurface the pool again as it is extremely doubtful we will be in this house in another 25 years.


Here’s a close-up of the pebble-finish.


The last step was to fill the pool!


I really like how blue the pool looks now. It’s a deeper blue color the deeper the water is.


While the pool guys were working on the pool, I spent some time refreshing my directional sign. It’s amazing how faded and muted the colors were after just a few years in the Florida sun. I repainted each one and used my cricut this time for the lettering…so much better!


Here’s another view of the sign.


While I was at it, I also refreshed was the oars that were mounted on the fence.


Now the backyard is all ready for summer! Who wants to go swimming?


It's About Me, The Husband, The Relatives

Weekend Visit

My in-laws spent last week in Naples, Florida with Karl’s sister, Joanne. So on the way home, they stopped in Jacksonville to spend the weekend with us. It just so happened that Friday night was our regularly scheduled Card Night with friends from church (we get together once a month and play a different game each time, rotating houses) so Sue and Karl were able to join in on the fun.


We played our new favorite card game, called 4 Up-4 Down, that Pat and Don taught us previously and we just so happened to have already taught Sue and Karl during our family cruise over Christmas.

Pat also made an amazing dessert and since we have a running joke about how much whipped cream the guys always use, she presented each one with their own can.


On Saturday night, Carl and I had a pre-cruise planning session with Dee and Eddy (in April, there will be 20 of us from church going to celebrate Dee and Eddy’s 50th wedding anniversary…what fun!). So Sue and Karl took Zack out for dinner.

Other than that, there was lots of hanging out of the lanai enjoying the beautiful weather, watching the new tv out there* and playing games.


It was a short and sweet visit but we are always grateful to spend time together when we can. Thanks for stopping by, Sue and Karl!

*Since I haven’t shown a photo on my blog, here’s out new addition to the lanai, which I initially resisted but am now in love with! Thanks, Carl!


If I am going to lay around watching tv, I can’t think of a better place to do it!

Florida Life, It's About Me, The Husband, Traveling

Safety Harbor Weekend Away

Last year around this time, Carl and I were invited to St. Petersburg, FL for the weekend for the Ted Williams Museum and (Baseball) Hitters Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This year, we were again invited, although the event was moved to Safety Harbor, FL and the organization put us up in the historic Safety Harbor Resort and Spa.

Where Healing Waters Flow

On May 18, 1539, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto reached the shores of what is now Tampa Bay, landing near these mineral springs used by the native population for nearly 10,000 years.  Believing he had found the legendary Fountain of Youth somehow missed by Ponce de Leon, de Soto established a camp here, naming its crystal-clear waters Espiritu Santo Springs–“Springs of the Holy Spirit.”  Each of the five springs on this site was identified and said to cure certain ailments, a claim drawing thousands of visitors yearly to the “Health Giving City” of Safety Harbor.  In the twentieth century, Espiritu Santo water was bottled and sold commercially, and later a health spa and hotel were built over the springs. The Safety Harbor Sanitorium opened its doors here in 1926, offering porcelain bath tubs and a large swimming pool for “taking the waters.” The Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, as it is now known, continues to be a prominent visitor attraction in Pinellas County.

I couldn’t help but wonder as we wandered the halls of this historic hotel noted for it’s healing powers and health retreats if my grandma Donna had been a visitor here. It seems like just the type of place she might have come to.

We decided to make a whole weekend of it (as opposed to just one night like last year) and went down on Friday.


On Friday, we took a long walk around the cute harbor city with small shops, plentiful restaurants and quaint houses.

The town boasts this massive 300-500 year old Live Oak tree.

It was fun to walk to dinner just a few blocks from the hotel and enjoy the beautiful night.

We laughed a lot at this sign. Why is this even necessary??

On Saturday, we enjoyed an even longer walk, going a full 5-1/2 miles down the waterfront and around the city. After going back to the Spa and hanging out at the pool for a while, we refreshed ourselves with a well-deserved nap. Then it was time to get ourselves ready and head to Spectrum Field (the Phillies training facility in Clearwater) for the big event.


The main attraction is the autograph signing session where fans wait in really long lines to spend about 30-seconds with many baseball greats. Carl and I were just there for the food, sampling all the items at the different food stations.


Then the main program took place, with several baseball legends, including Richie “Dick” Allen and Tony Perez being inducted into the Hitters Hall of Fame.

Tony Perez, Dick Allen, Ron Guidry, JR Richard

The evening ended with a fireworks display over the field.


It couldn’t have been a more perfect night, weather-wise. Not too hot and not too cool….it was just right!

On Sunday, we met up with my cousin, Kim, and her daughter, Kassie, at her church since it was on the way home. We thought it was interesting how after the worship portion, the stage went dark and then the lights came back on and there was a large screen. As the pastor started talking, it took us a few seconds to realize that he was not actually there but it was an almost 3-D like video of him speaking! Freaky!


Afterwards, we took Kim and Kassie for brunch to visit and catch up before heading home.


It was great to spend some time with them and we are grateful it worked out it everyone’s schedule. It was a nice weekend away and when it’s mostly free, it’s even better! I love these fun opportunities that Carl and I have to spend time together.