Jaxty's Place

My place to ramble about my family, my crafts, my travels and life.

Santa Rosa Beach 2017

I’m so grateful for my Tuesday boss and the great working relationship that we have. And I’m especially grateful that he has a lovely beach vacation home that he shares with family and favored employees for free. This year, Carl and I invited our good friends, John and Michelle to join us for a week of fun and sun at the beach. We drove over one day prior to our friends to get settled in, get some groceries and enjoy our first walk on the beach at sunset.

The next afternoon, John and Michelle joined us.

While waiting for the sunset, Carl and John played bocce ball at the beach.

Our first full day together began with Carl, John and Michelle taking a long walk. Yes, I was the only lazy one. What of it? I’m on vacation. When they got back, Michelle made us her amazing quinoa power breakfast.

Yum! Carl and John watched the Jaguar game on the IPad since it wasn’t playing on local tv while Michelle and I went out for more groceries.

After the game was over, with a Jaguar victory, we drove down Highway 30a to explore some of the cute coastal cities. Our first stop was Seaside.

After wandering around the residential area, we came upon a field with a badminton court so we had to stop and play.

John and Michelle won, which did not make me happy. Plus I broke out in a sweat. Again, not happy. Oh well. At least we had fun! We finally made our way to the town square where they had a series of cute Airstream trailer food trucks so we stopped for some delicious BBQ pork for lunch.

And then to top it off, we all split a giant Sea Salt Chocolate 100 layer cronut (fried croissant) stuffed with chocolate filling.

What an incredible way to blow our carb count for the day! We then made our way further down Hwy 30a, ending at Rosemary Beach.

After taking a coffee/tea break, and sending the above photo to our pastor, who vacations there each year with his family, we walked around this area too for a while.

We finally made our way back home where John and Michelle prepared our awesome dinner of rib eye steaks, veggies and cucumber/tomato salad.

Then it was time for some games. Our first choice was Sequence.

By the end of the night, the women beat the men three games to two.

Losers.

It was a super fun day spent with friends. We are so happy to be spending our vacation with them. More fun to come!

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Arizona

After dropping me off in Tucson at my Aunt Sandy’s house, I spent the week doing the following (in the order of occurrence):

  • Seeing a local production of The Producers with Aunt Sandy, her half-brother (and my half-uncle) Larry and wife Judy and a few of their friends. It was very entertaining and well done.
  • Attending the local Sovereign Grace church for my weekly fill-up!
  • Having a day of pampering with a pedicure and massage

  • Attending the neighborhood water aerobics class three times that week. It was actually way more fun than I thought it would be.
  • Playing Scrabble at the IHOP, officially making me feel like an old lady between the water aerobics and this!

  • Formulating a plan with Aunt Sandy on our next genealogy project together on her father’s side of the family. We sorted through photos and began figuring out our plan of attack and we are excited about our direction.
  • Having dinner with my niece, Abby, in Phoenix (after spending the day with Anthony). Anthony was originally supposed to join us for dinner but ended up having too much homework that night.

  • Attending Aunt Sandy’s weekly watercolor art class which has really inspired me to start spending time in my craft room more.

I painted the parrot on the left…

And these flowers…

  • Visiting Judy and Larry at their ranch in the country and meeting their horses.

  • Having lunch with Judy and Larry and Sandra’s friend, Joy.

  • Playing several games of scrabble during the week, ending with my victory on the last night!


It was a great week away and I’m blessed to have such a beautiful and relaxing place to escape to at my Aunt Sandy’s mountain resort. It was the perfect place to recuperate after the long drive across the country and always such a special treat to spend time with my aunt. Thanks for everything, Aunt Sandy. Until next time!

And a very happy 80th birthday to my Aunt Sandy later this week!! I’m sorry that you missed your surprise party!

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College Bound

For the second time in two years, I made the 28-hour drive from Jacksonville to Tucson in Anthony’s pick up truck.

We drove 10 hours to Lafayette, LA the first day, 10 hours to Ft. Stockton, TX the second day and 8 hours to Tucson on the third day, where Anthony dropped me off at my Aunt Sandy’s house.

We were so blessed to be one day ahead of the devastating hurricane Harvey, as we drove through Houston the day prior. Other than some brief rain and numerous highway signs warning drivers to avoid the Texas coast, we traveled without any difficulties.

I did borrow Aunt Sandra’s car to drive up to Phoenix on Wednesday to visit Anthony at Grand Canyon University and see his apartment.

I took him to Costco to stock up on groceries and household supplies.

We also went to a few Goodwill stores to find a tv stand and two kitchen chairs for a total of $12!

It was good to spend time with the college boy and help him get set up in his apartment.

I wish him a great third year of college!

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Kick Off

Can it be football season already? It’s hard to imagine when it’s still 90 degrees out with 85% humidity in Florida. But yes, it really is that time. Since it was only preseason and since it was the JAX Jaguars, Carl was able to get an unlimited number of tickets to the season opener game at Everbank Field last Thursday night. He offered tickets to our entire church and over 135 tickets were claimed (this is only some of the crew)!

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One of the diehard Jaguar fans, Nathan, who has his own season tickets, organized tailgating in one of the parking lots beforehand. He did a terrific job with a tent, two propane grills, music and games set up for the kids.

I had really debated going myself since:

  1. It’s football.
  2. It’s soooo hot.

But I couldn’t pass up the fun social occasion with our church family. And when Anthony (who is home from Hawaii for one week) said that he would come too, that clinched the deal.

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I can honestly say that I don’t think I watched the game at all. I spent most of my time socializing with friends or looking for my photos to appear on the Giant Screens.

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If you post photos to Instagram using the hashtag #jagsgamedaylive, you can eventually see your photo appear on the screens, rotating through a few times. These are some of the other photos I posted to Instagram…

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Our friends, Michelle and John, who we rode with to the game and Ben, another young friend.

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Our friends, Dee and Eddy, with Carl stopping by to say hi.

From what I hear, the Jaguars really looked bad and it’s going to be a long and painful season. This pretty much sums up what I feel about watching football…

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It was a fun evening hanging out with friends. I am grateful to Carl and Nathan for helping to put together a great evening of fellowship! Next time, let’s do it somewhere inside with air conditioning!!

 

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My Maid of Honor

Back in 1982, at the University of Illinois, in my former life, I was studying to be a Speech-Language Pathologist. One of the first friends that I made in the program was Jean. Being a small program with everyone required to take many of the same classes, Jean and I had many classes together for our four years of undergraduate work.

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Jean and I and another friend who neither of us can remember her name (but Carl thinks it’s Pam)

After living in the dorms for my first three years of college, I finally moved into an apartment with Jean and another of her friends, Clair, my last year of college. Since I met Carl my first month of college and we were always together, Jean was very familiar with my future-husband. Jean and Clair drove up to Chicago for my wedding shower thrown by my mother and step-mother.

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Jean even was the maid of honor in our wedding.

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I’m not sure what Jean thinks but I still love my lavender bridesmaid dresses!

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Carl and I visited Jean and her family through the years. The first time was our first homecoming at the University of Illinois in 1987, during my androgynous phase, where I was sporting an incredibly horrific boy’s haircut and wearing a men’s polo shirt. Jean was as cute as ever though!

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This time was in Chicago when Jean was married and mother to her first child, Calvin and we had just brought Anthony home.

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I also visited her twice when we lived in Virginia and Jean and her family lived in Pennsylvania.

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However, most of our married lives, we’ve been separated by busy lives and many, many miles, usually living in different states from one another. So I was thrilled when Jean contacted me recently to say that she’d be in Jacksonville visiting her sister, who coincidentally lives about 3 miles from me, and would love to get together.

Jean and her daughters, Anna and Sarah, came for dinner on Sunday night and it was so good to catch up with her after 19 years.

I am so thankful for time spent reconnecting with a long-lost friend! Thanks for visiting Jean and girls!

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I’m Ready for Some Grandkids!

On Friday morning, while drinking my tea and perusing Facebook, I came across this cry for help.

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With nothing on my schedule except for cleaning my own house, which I’d gladly skip, I texted my friend, Allie and told her she could bring her kids to my house for the day for some swimming so she could get the house cleaned in preparation for their relocation to Tennessee. A little while later, she dropped off a carload of her 5 youngest children – aged 2 to 10 years (she has two others as well…one who was working and one who stayed to help her clean).

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After a few hours in the pool, the kids had worked up an appetite and were ready for some lunch so we ate some pizza on the porch.

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A little while later, the Popsicles came out.

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Finally, the kids had enough pool time so we went inside to watch a movie and eat popcorn.

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Little Wesley was out like a light within a few minutes.

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After the movie, we played a few rounds of Whoonu.

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Finally, after about 6 hours, mom returned for the kiddos. If it took her 6 hours without the kids, I can’t imagine how long it would have taken her with 5 extra little ones running around. I was so glad to have been able to help and had a fun day hanging out with some sweet kids.IMG_7026However, I will admit that after they left, I made myself a cocktail and spent some time enjoying the peace and quiet in the pool with my husband, who was home from work by that time. It’s great to be able to spend a fun day with some kids and then send them home. Ha! Just like being a grandparent.

 

We are really sad to be losing a lovely church family to Tennessee but look forward to having a chance to visit them in the Nashville area after they are settled.

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I’m Gonna Keep On Loving You!

The first concert I ever went to see was REO Speedwagon when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school. So when Carl texted me last week to say he could get 6 free tickets to see REO Speedwagon and Styx at the new Daily’s Place Ampitheater, which is now part of Everbank Field, where the Jaguars play, I was very excited. When we asked the neighbors if they were all interested, they all jumped at the chance as well.

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When we arrived at the stadium to meet Carl, he was still working out at the YMCA. With time to kill and a passing trolley going to a local bar, it didn’t take the neighbors long to hop aboard and head on over for the first drinks. After one drink, we took the trolley back to the stadium so Carl could give them a tour of the offices.

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We went towards the player’s locker room/training area, where Carl instructed us to be very quiet, since we weren’t really supposed to be in that area.

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It worked well for about a minute-and-a-half but then they all started to get rowdy and the security guard came out and glared at us so we left. We walked on over to the Ampitheater and grabbed another cocktail. Dedie and I selected the “Dragon Juice” in a special mug. Little did I know at the time that it cost $18!! Shoot, I’m glad that I didn’t pay for it! (Thanks neighbors!)

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We then found our seats and enjoyed a great show.

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It was a fun evening with fun people! We look forward to attending more concerts in the near future. There are quite a few 80s bands coming and we are hoping to go to more shows soon.

Carl even wore his special booze and cigar Hawaiian shirt. Better there than the time he accidentally wore it to church!

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Architectural Boat Tour

On Wednesday, Carl and I took the Metra train downtown to take an architectural boat tour. After I did that last fall with my aunt Sandra, I thought Carl might enjoy it so we used the anniversary gift of money from my mom to buy ourselves tickets.


After getting off the train, we were going to walk a few blocks and then take an Uber to Navy Pier. However, it was a beautiful day and we had time to kill so we ended up walking the whole three miles to Navy Pier. Since this tour originated from Navy Pier, it included a speed boat ride up and down the coast, showing the skyline.


After cruising the coast, we went through the locks to enter the Chicago River. Then we learned about the many of the high-rises along the river. Since this tour included the speed boat ride, we didn’t go as far down the river as the tour with my Aunt Sandy, but it was still very interesting. It was a great anniversary present. Thanks mom!

After the boat tour, we walked down Michigan avenue and around the city.


We had really hoped to win tickets to see Hamilton on that day but it was not to be. Super sad face.


I discovered the soundtrack to Hamilton on Amazon Prime a few months ago and have been obsessively listening to it at least once a week (sometimes more) since then. I was so excited to find out that it was playing in Chicago. Until I found out tickets were running from around $300 on up each. Since we could go on a weekend cruise for $500, we just couldn’t pay that much for tickets. However, I found out that they have a lottery for 44 tickets for $10 each every show. So Carl and I had 7 opportunities while we were in town. But with an average of 10,000 people entering every lottery, we didn’t win. Darn it. The show is coming to Orlando in 2018 though so we WILL be going. In the meantime, I’ll listen to the soundtrack another 150 times.

It was a fun day exploring a beautiful city on an equally beautiful day.

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Mother’s Day 2017

Also known as the day Kristy decides everything that we do :).

So after church and lunch on Sunday, I decided that Carl and I would drive up to Talbot Islands State Park, where I went with my mom and Sis a few weeks ago, so I could show Carl the Driftwood Beach. Since we were driving about 45-minutes, I figured we would stop and take a nice walk in the area first and read online about a 4-mile loop trail just down the road.

After parking our car in the North Beach Pavilion area, the first thing we encountered was this guy cruising in the parking lot.

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Hi Mr. Turtle! We saw another one along our walk as well.

This was the path that we were supposed to take…starting from the pink star, head a short way over to the beach, walk north up the beach and then loop back through some woods.

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Instead, we were confused and starting walking south along the paved pathway, walking two miles in the wrong direction and ending at the southern end of the island, past the South Beach Pavilion Area. We enjoyed a nice, long walk back north along the beach.

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When we got to the northern part of the island, we were supposed to veer left into the woods on a marked trail. However, with the trailhead hidden behind coastal debris, we walked right past it and ended up at the very northern tip of the island instead. After back-tracking and keeping our eyes peeled for the trail, we finally found the entrance.

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Hidden down the path a bit was the sign that was supposed to direct us.

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Eventually, we made it back to our car. Instead of the 4-mile loop we were supposed to take above, we actually took a 7.7 mile journey with our various mis-steps!

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By that point we were too tired, hot and sweaty to even go see the Driftwood beach, especially since it would have involved another one-mile walk in and one-mile walk out. We decided that we would have to go back another day.

Instead, we headed back towards home and to Chipotle for dinner.

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We had initially planned to go to a nicer restaurant but that would have required going home to shower and change clothes and we just wanted some food and then to crash on the couch by that point.

Thanks to Kelly for the lovely hand-made card waiting for me at home. My husband had brought me the flowers the day before. So sweet!

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Zack also bought me a Hallmark card from the grocery store and paid an outrageous $8!!! I told him next year that he could buy me a card from the Dollar Store and give me the extra $7. Ha! It was a nice thought though Zack. And IT WAS a Hallmark, so there was that.

It was a lovely day spent with my husband and enjoying the gorgeous day. I am grateful for my family.

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Amelia Island and more

On Thursday, mom, Sis and I spent the day exploring parts of northern Florida together. Our main destination was Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island but I decided to make a few touristy stops along the way.

Our first stop was the Kingsley Plantation.

Kingsley Plantation (also known as the Zephaniah Kingsley Plantation Home and Buildings) is the site of a former estate in Jacksonville, Florida, that was named for an early owner, Zephaniah Kingsley, who spent 25 years there.  The longest span of ownership was under Kingsley and his family, a polygamous and multiracial household controlled by and resistant to the issues of race and slavery. Free blacks and several private owners lived at the plantation until it was transferred to the State of Florida in 1955.  The most prominent features of Kingsley Plantation are the owner’s house—a structure of architectural significance built probably between 1797 and 1798 that is cited as being the oldest surviving plantation house in the state

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and an attached kitchen house, barn, and remains of 25 anthropologically valuable slave cabins that endured beyond the U.S. Civil War (1861–1865).

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The foundations of the house, kitchen, barn and the slave quarters were constructed of cement tabby, making them notably durable.

It was a very interesting and informative visit that taught us a little about Florida history.

Our next stop was the beach at Big Talbot Island State Park. I had heard that this was a pretty place to stop and see driftwood. I had no idea what that meant exactly but it was way cooler than I thought.

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Words and photos do not adequately do it justice but it is an approximately mile-long beach covered in bleached skeletons of massive felled oak trees that gives a post-apocalyptic feel, like something right out of Planet of the Apes.

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It was well worth the stop and 15-20 minute walk from the parking lot down to the beach in 90-degree heat. And it was actually much cooler by the water.

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We then finally made our way up to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island and stopped for a late lunch (complete with afternoon cocktails) on the inter-coastal waterway.

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We walked along the dock and visited some of the small shops.

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We couldn’t pass Florida’s Oldest Bar without stopping in for a drink, of course.

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After the 1 hour plus drive home, we had one last stop for the day, which was to show Sis Clark’s Fish Camp and it’s extensive collection of taxidermy.

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We stopped to say hi to the live alligator inside as well.

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And since we were there, we decided to have another cocktail…why not?!

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It was a very full and fun day exploring Florida with mom and Sis.

 

 

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