Jaxty's Place

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

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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The Rest of our Chicago Trip

Some other highlights from our week in Chicago….

Kelly and Avram went clubbing downtown Chicago with Bryanna and friends. It’s nice to see cousins bonding over dancing and drinking.


Game nights!

Bryanna and her boyfriend even came for dinner and a game on our last evening. So nice of them to make time for Aunt Kristy.

Visiting with friends – Scott and family. We even ate REAL Chicago pizza and didn’t even feel guilty. Now the cookie cake for dessert is a different story.

Watched a few movies.


Relaxed around the pool at mom’s complex.


And Carl even got regular work-outs in!


It was a great week in Chicago and we are so grateful for the time spent with family and friends. I am so grateful Carl had the whole week off and we made the trip up north. Thanks for all the hospitality, mom!

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Independence Day

Carl and I started our Independence Day holiday by attending a local parade that we heard from friends was the largest in the area.


Carl and I were very sad that my sister-in-law, Lisa, and my two nephews (neither of which Carl has met, the youngest I haven’t met) were out of town with her family while we were visiting. But that didn’t stop my brother Rob from hosting a BBQ on the 4th of July.


Rob’s daughter, Bryanna, and her boyfriend, Jimmy, joined us.


Rob did an amazing job, grilling hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, butterfly shrimp and vegetables. Nicely done, Rob!


It was nice to spend time at Rob’s lovely home. Nothing like good food and good company!


On the way home, we decided to take a small detour to visit the house we lived in with Kelly when she was ages 1 to 6.


The house looked exactly the same, with the same paint job from 20 years ago! We think it might be the same owners living there. I guess they must really like the house just the way Carl and I left it :).

Since it was so close, we also found the townhouse we lived in during my high school years.


After mom took us to a different unit and claimed it was where we lived and we repeatedly questioned the people in the clubhouse over the location of the clubhouse moving since it wasn’t where we remembered it to be, we walked over the hill back to our car and realized our former unit was right in front of us. Mom and I have the worst memories ever!

Then, since it was vacation after all, we decided to be naughty and get Dairy Queen.


If you are going to eat carbs, that’s a great way to go!

Instead of watching fireworks, since it was Kelly and Avram’s last night with us, we just stayed home and played some games. It was so good to spend time with them both and we are very grateful they came to Chicago. God Bless America!

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Chicago Trip

At long last…a new blog post. In fact, I have a whole bunch coming all week. Last week, Carl had the whole week off of work. So we decided to take advantage of the days off to fly to Chicago to visit family and friends. And even better, was the fact that Kelly and her boyfriend drove over from MSP as well to be with us through the 4th of July holiday.

On Sunday, my Aunt Gale hosted a BBQ for my dad’s side of the family. 

My dad and his new roommate, Tony, came. It was nice to meet Tony and I’m glad my dad has someone that seems to actually enjoy living with him!


Two out of three of Gale’s sons were there.

Jeff, the oldest, and his girlfriend, Jill

Justin, the middle son; Jessica, his wife; their boys


It was great seeing everyone.


We are grateful to Gale for hosting and to Carl for manning the Grill. Family time is the best time!

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Zack’s Graduation Weekend

Thursday evening was Zack’s graduation ceremony but we still had the whole weekend with the grandparents to celebrate Zack. On Friday, my cousin, Kim, from Tampa drove over for the night and we all spent the whole, hot and sunny day floating around the pool together and enjoying some cool cocktails.

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Zack requested Jucy Lucy burgers (a Minneapolis masterpiece) and french fries for his celebratory dinner #1.

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After dinner, I presented him with his stack of congratulatory cards that have been arriving for the past few weeks and he ended up with a nice pile of cash and checks thanks to his generous relatives and friends. He plans to buy himself a new computer and then spend the rest on Publix fried chicken.

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Then we all went next door to our neighbor’s house for a grad party since their daughter, Mckenzie also graduated high school this week.

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Zack got a congratulatory hug from Mckenzie’s mom, Susan.

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The adults all got congratulatory cocktails from Susan.

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After visiting at the party for a while, we returned home to play some camp cards until Carl couldn’t take any more celebrating and we all went to bed.

Games

On Saturday, we spent another day floating around the pool until Kim had to leave to return home and the rest of us went out for celebratory dinner #2 at Zack’s choice of Olive Garden.

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That evening’s game was a complete round of dominoes for which I accumulated the massive amount of 495 points and sealed the position as worst domino score in my life.

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On Sunday we had to say goodbye to my mom, Sandy. Carl’s parents are still here until tomorrow morning.

It was a really fun weekend with three out of four grandparents here to celebrate Zack. We are grateful that they all could come. It was a great time together!

 

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He did it!

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Zack actually graduated high school!

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We are so very grateful for Lighthouse Christian School for getting him through his last two years of high school and awarding him his diploma.

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We are not sure how he would have done it without the blessing of that school.

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The extremely small class sizes, personalized educational plan and love and patience of the teachers was invaluable.

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It was just what Zack needed to get through this major milestone.

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We are so happy that 3 out of 4 of his grandparents could be there for his big day.

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Since it was “Red Nose Day” for charity, Grandma Sandy thought it only appropriate that we got one picture with our red noses.

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Zack’s graduation present was his very first suit…something that he has really wanted for the past year. He sure looked good in it!

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Now Zack looks dapper when he asks “who wants to hire me?”

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Congratulations Zack on your accomplishment!

 

 

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Final Mom and Sis post…for this time!

A visit to Jacksonville wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach.

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On Wednesday, we spent several hours at the beach relaxing.

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Some of us live in Florida and have plenty of time ahead to soak in the sun so I opted to sit in the shade and read instead.

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A visit to the Miklas family also wouldn’t be complete without plenty of game nights.

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We taught Sis Camp cards and played Rummikub, Sequence and Dominoes as well.

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We went to “Tuscan Tuesday” with some neighbors (at a local pizza/Italian restaurant). We enjoyed home-cooked dinners together the other nights, sharing some of our favorite low-carb meals with mom and Sis. Sis was such a sweet and thoughtful guest, always trying to help out where needed and she was a pleasure to spend time with all week. Mom is a good guest in other ways…always quick to open her wallet and provide lots of fun experiences and lunch/cocktails out. Thank you mom and Sis for a great visit. I had a great time and you are both welcome back any time.

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Bunco

At the beginning of March, I posted the following on Instagram…

Bunco

My mother commented that she wanted to play Bunco when she came to visit. Since we had such fun the first time, I decided to celebrate mom and Sis’ last night in JAX by inviting our neighbors and some friends over for another Bunco night.

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Seeing as we were without air conditioning all week* during mom and Sis’ visit, I kept my eye on the rising temperatures. Of course, it reached 92 on the day of the Bunco party.

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We did our best to keep our guests hydrated and it actually was not unbearable at the outside two tables.

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The inside head table was a little toasty so people would be rooting to lose so they could move to one of the tables outside…ha!

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After we completed 4 rounds and awarded prizes, with Carl winning $5 for getting the first Bunco and me winning $10 for the most wins, half the guests left but our favorite neighbors stuck around for a few more hours.IMG_6493

It was a fantastic evening of fun, laughs and a cocktail or two (or twelve in some instances)! I’m so grateful for great neighbors who make life in JAX so fun. And I’m glad that they enjoy spending time with my relatives as well. Good times!

*Some friends from church recently replaced our aging a/c unit, giving us a fantastic deal. However, right before mom and Sis arrived, they discovered an issue that needed to be addressed but couldn’t get to it until later in the month so we were without a/c for a few weeks. It really was not bad temperature-wise until of course, we had a houseful of company one night. We all managed to get through it and they will now have something to harass us about for years to come!

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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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St. Augustine with Mom and Sis

On Saturday, my mother and her cousin, Sis, arrived for a week’s visit.

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To take a break from hanging out at the pool and enjoying cocktails, we made the trek down to St. Augustine on Monday.

We did the usual St. Augustine must-sees, like Castillo San Marco

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and the San Sebastian Winery taste-testing.

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However, for the first time, we stopped and enjoyed an adult beverage at the Martini Bar, with view of the Mantanza River.

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Thanks to my “Local Flavor” half-price deals, we also enjoyed the Old Town Trolley tour around the city, with historic information about various aspects of St. Augustine life. It was very informative and I learned new information and discovered a few new “must-see spots” like the oldest Live Oak tree in St. Augustine, dating back to the 1500s.

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Notice how this massive tree has a palm tree growing in the middle of it, from a seed dropped by a passing bird.

At the Ripley’s Museum (the original, first Ripley’s location) lot, we also discovered a 14-foot in diameter Redwood tree stump that had been carved into a 4-room house.

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Ripley’s also had this hiding behind some bushes in the corner of their property.

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An exact replica of Michelangelo’s “David,” an 18-foot tall hand-carved marble statue weighing 20,000 pounds has made its way to Castle Warden, home of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! odditorium. It is one of only two in the world carved as the original was – from a solid piece of pure Carrara Marble quarried from Pietra Santa in Tuscany, Italy. It’s the same quarry where Michelangelo acquired the marble for his masterpiece.

After our exploring of St. Augustine, it was time for dinner at Aunt Kate’s.

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It was a great day showing Sis around St. Augustine and enjoying the really beautiful day (until dinner when the breeze was a little too cool and brisk to really enjoy sitting outside). Thanks for the fun girl’s day out, mom and Sis!

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