Jaxty's Place

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

MSP Weekend

It’s that time of year…dance recital season! Carl flew to Minnesota this past weekend for the first of three studio’s recitals on Saturday (three shows total). He was blessed to stay the weekend with our old neighbors and friends, Neil and Lou. We appreciate their hospitality so much…thanks Lou (who is a blog subscriber).

When he wasn’t watching hours of girl’s dancing, he was able to visit with old friends, including my former BFF, Deb.

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He stopped by our former church on Sunday morning and saw many familiar faces, including Andrew and Emily, who visited us in JAX our first year.

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But most importantly, he visited with Kelly on Sunday, seeing her new apartment, which is in a converted historic mansion turned into 16 rental units.

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They hit the streets of Minneapolis to watch the annual May Day parade.

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Because it included this performer….

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Kelly’s boyfriend, Avram!

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He was also able to meet Avram’s parents, who both participated in the parade, and see Avram’s mother’s “art car.”

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He met several of Avram’s other relatives as well, including his brother and grandparents.

He saw Avram’s family’s float called Mr. Chompers…

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and even got to ride it in the parade for a bit.

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It was a beautiful Minnesota day to spend outside with our lovely daughter. I wish that I could have been there too.

Oh, and Carl loved his rental “car” this weekend….

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I’m glad that he had a great weekend in Minnesota. One set of recitals down, two more to go!

 

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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…

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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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Birthday Banner Card

Now that their birthdays have past, I can share the card that I made for my mom’s 75th birthday and Kelly’s 27th birthday.

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When you open it up, there is a fun hanging birthday banner.

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It is made with Washi Tape. If you’ve never heard of Washi tape, it’s fun, colorful, patterned crafting tape that has been all the rage for several years.

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This was a fun, cute project that I enjoyed putting together for two special women in my life!

 

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Cumberland Island, GA

On Saturday, Carl and I made the 1-1/4 hour drive up to St. Mary’s, Georgia with our friends, Dee and Eddy. Twice a day, a ferry shuttles visitors to Cumberland Island, only accessible by boat.

Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island offers a rustic getaway with over 50 miles of trails and roads, as well as 18 miles of undeveloped beach. Cumberland Island is home to pristine maritime forests, undeveloped beaches and wide marshes. Cumberland Island is also home to about 140 feral horses that roam freely on the island.

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Since it was a 45-minute ferry ride each way, Carl was smart enough to suggest bringing a deck of cards so that we could pass the time playing our favorite Camp Cards.

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Once on the island, we took a leisure 4.5 mile walk around the southern end of the island.

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The first part was through the cool, tree-covered pathway.

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The second part was on the beach along the Atlantic ocean coastline.

At the southern end of the island, we explored the ruins of Dungeness, the Carnegie family mansion and extensive grounds. The 1880s property was destroyed by an arson fire in 1959.

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This is the mansion in all its glory prior to the fire.

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It was in that area I caught my first glimpse of some wild horses, grazing in the marsh in the distance.

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Here, let me get closer.

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There were lots of interesting buildings to see and we enjoyed listening to the self-guided phone tour on Eddy’s cell phone.

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While stopping for a snack break in an open field, we saw a few more horses much closer.

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After over 4 miles and four hours exploring the island, it was time to catch the ferry back to mainland. We played more Camp Cards and saw dolphins on the return trip!

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day that was just perfect for exploring this beautiful place just a short drive from home. Thank you Dee and Eddy for a great day together!

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Easter Sunday

I hope that you all had a very blessed Resurrection Sunday and know the love and sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus. He died so that we may live. Rejoice in Him!

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After bringing Zack to church with us, we returned home to welcome our friends from church, Michelle and John.

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After enjoying some appetizers on the lanai, I put some sirloin steaks in the smoker.

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While they cooked, we played some Camp Cards.

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When the steaks were ready, we enjoyed a delicious low-carb feast with steak, mushrooms, cauliflower potatoes, brussel sprouts and salad.

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Then John took a nap in the hammock :).

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He eventually joined Carl for a dip in the pool.

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Actually, that was about as far as they got. Water’s still a little brisk!

We played a few more rounds of Camp Cards while the food settled and we made room for dessert. It was a very relaxing day spent with good friends, good food, conversation and cards.

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We are very blessed!

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Ports of Call

Our ship left out of Tampa on Saturday morning and arrived at our first Port of Call on Sunday morning….Key West, Florida, a place that I have never been before.

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We first walked to The Harry S Truman Little White House, which was the winter White House for President Harry S Truman for 175 days during 11 visits.

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After passing by Ernest Hemingway’s house (but not paying the $14 admission to enter), we headed for the Southernmost point of the continental United States.

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We then walked around the ultra-fancy Casa Marina, Waldorf-Astoria hotel, stopping to use the bathroom and drink some cold water in the lobby. We found this cool sand sculpture out back.

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While walking around Key West, we saw this interesting Barnacle Truck, which made me think of Kelly and her boyfriend, Avram, who are going to Houston to see the 30th Annual Art Car Parade in April.

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We also saw tons of chickens walking around, which I read were a local Key West icon.

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And we saw this guy lounging on a fence.

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Biggest lizard I’ve ever seen in the wild!

All told, we walked a whopping 8 miles around Key West.

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It was a fun day exploring this cool city. I’d like to return and visit some of the other Florida Keys as well.

After a day at sea, our second port of call on Tuesday was in Cozumel, Mexico. That day, we took a taxi to the Money Bar Beach Club.

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I had heard that it was the best place to go for snorkeling from the beach.

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There was no admission to the Club, so we were able to relax on lounge chairs all day as long as we ordered the occasional cocktail and eventually had some lunch.

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It was a relaxing day in Mexico.

After one more day at sea, we returned back to Tampa on Thursday. Another successful cruise under our belts…that makes number 6 for us. And I’m thrilled to say that we have number 7 booked already….a family Christmas cruise leaving December 23rd to celebrate Zack’s high school graduation with Grandma Sue and Grandpa Karl (God-willing). While they visited last week, we booked a 7-night cruise from Port Canaveral on the Carnival Magic, going to Cozumel (again), Belize, Mahogany Bay (Honduras) and Costa Maya, Mexico. I can’t wait!!

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Brilliance of the Seas

Thanks to the very generous Christmas bonus from my favorite client/boss (that I work for on a weekly basis), Carl and I just returned from a 5-night Royal Caribbean cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas.

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We did the usual things that we do on a cruise ship….we relaxed on lounge chairs and read books.

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We dressed up and had lovely, relaxing dinners every night in the main dining room. All but one night we sat at shared tables and made many new friends.

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We even ate carbs this week!

 

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Although for the most part, we were very good with healthy eating choices, we did enjoy ourselves with special treats this week.

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We were visited by towel animals in our stateroom.

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We explored the ship, watched great evening shows, took part in some trivia contests and listened to some really bad karaoke.

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It was a great mini-vacation and we were very blessed with this fun time away. Tomorrow I’ll share a little about our two ports-of-call.

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