Early bird

Go ahead and call me crazy, but I have recently discovered the joys of waking up early and spending the first hour of my day alone and in peace and quiet. It started a few moths ago when I was trying to figure out when in the world I could go running, since by the time I got home from work I was pretty wiped. Plus there was the whole question of when dinner would happen in that equation – if I ate when I got home, I didn’t have adequate time to digest before running (bad idea!). If I waited until after running, it was getting pretty late for dinner. What’s a girl to do?

So, I decided to try getting up at 5:30am and running before breakfast. I’ll admit, the first time I tried it I thought I was nuts. It’s so DARK at 5:30am! And it’s so EARLY. And did I mention it’s DARK? But after going on a nice, albeit poorly lit run I felt great and was so glad I did it.

Fast forward to today and I (willingly!) get up at 5:30am every weekday. I don’t always go for a run – sometimes I just use the time to eat breakfast and read in peace…unless Jasper realizes I’m up, then it usually involves some pretty intense negotiations about when he is allowed to get up. But I really value that time to myself in the morning. I must or I’d never bound out of bed that early. I’m not even tempted to hit the snooze!

Isn’t it funny how something you never thought you’d want to do can become something you really enjoy? There are moments when I think that at last I know my self pretty darn well. And then there are times when I wonder if I’ve ever met me.

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Where ya been?

Hello, I’m back. So sorry for the extreme radio silence since…um, December. Life got a little crazy and this little bloggie got put on the back burner. But now I find myself wishing to pick back up and keep sharing our big adventure.

So, what’s new with you?

Me? Well I’ve had two rather large life changes since we chatted last. In December I got an awesome job doing public relations for The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida. It’s pretty much exactly the kind of job I most wanted right now, so that’s awesome. I get to do all my favorite things: PR, social media, making a web site, designing stuff, and best of all telling the stories of the incredible people who find help at The Salvation Army. I’m having a ball.

And as if that weren’t enough excitement, Jim and I bought a house…kind of on a whim. Well, not a whim exactly, but we weren’t setting out to buy one at any rate. We had been keeping half an eye out on the properties in our area just to get a sense of what was out there and pricing. Then one day Jim pointed out a cute little place on Zillow, and I chimed in that we ought to look at it – just for fun. Well, the moment we looked at it we were in deep. First of all, it’s darling. It was exactly the size we would have been looking for if, you know, we HAD been looking for a house. Second, the current owners had bought it as a foreclosure and renovated the entire thing from top to bottom, and since they bought it as an investment, it hadn’t been lived in since the renovation. And third, it’s a mile and a half from the beach, and super close to a main access road. Plus, it was right in our conservative price range. Sold.

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There she is! Isn’t she cute?

That was in mid-May, and since then we’ve been painting, and painting, and painting. The entire inside had been freshly painted by the renovators, but it was all beige. We are definitely not beige people.

 

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The living room post-painting, pre move-in.

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Here I am, sitting in the sink to paint the wall. As one does.

The kitchen all finished.

The kitchen all finished.

And then there was the big move, where an extraordinary number of friends from our church came and moved all our worldly goods in about three hours.

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Someone was a LITTLE excited about the big move – or at least about the truck.

And since then we’ve been unpacking, and unpacking, and unpacking. But I’m starting to see the light at the end of that tunnel. The unpacking part of this process is the hardest for me. I really go nuts when my nest is not in order. But since we’ve been shedding stuff

So that’s what’s new with me…

Sledding in Florida

When we made the move down south, there were a handful of things I felt is was safe to assume that we would not do this winter: scraping ice off the windshield (shudder), shoveling snow, slipping and falling on the ice, making a mad hustle from the car to a warm place, and sledding.

I stand corrected.

On Wednesday evening we went to the Jax Art Walk downtown. We had been there before and really enjoyed it, so we thought we’d go again. And amid the tables of cool artists hawking their creations, there was a huge slide covered in snow (procured how I don’t know) with sleds for kids and grown-ups acting like kids to have some “winter” fun.

Ridiculously, my first thought was “oh rats, the Bean isn’t dressed for snow”. Really Kelly? Really? It’s 70 degrees, it doesn’t matter that he’s not dressed for snow.

So the Bean and the Physicist grabbed a sled and rocketed down the hill right after the guy dressed as a candy cane and the gal dressed as a gingerbread cookie.

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Apologies for the less-than-stellar photos, but these guys were seriously moving fast. It was like when Chevy Chase puts grease on his sled in the movie Christmas Vacation and leaves fire in his wake down the hill.

So, I learned that it is indeed possible to go sledding in 70-degree weather  – no snow pants needed!

Fun at the Fair

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As ever, I’m a bit behind in telling you all about the fun things we’ve been up to. So, as I digest the Thanksgiving goodies I thought I’d make use of the fact that I couldn’t move if I needed to and do a little blogging.

On a recent weekend our little fam went to the Jacksonville Fair. Minnesota readers should stop any mental comparison  to the Minnesota State Fair right now. This was a much smaller affair. There is a statewide fair in Tallahassee, which perhaps we’ll venture out to explore next time it rolls around. This was the Jacksonville city fair.

I must say, although we knew better than to think it would be anywhere near the scale of the Minnesota State Fair, which is VERY beloved by yours truly, we were a bit underwhelmed at first. It seemed to be mostly rides and carnival games (which is not what we enjoy about the State Fair). However, once we dug a little deeper we found some fun that was more our style.

I was relieved to find their barns, as that is such a critical feature of a good fair. And bonus, it did not seem to be the main attraction for the local populous, so the barns were delightfully void of the throngs of people one usually finds at the fair in Minnesota!

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The Physicist bonded with a chicken

I searched high and low for cheese curds, which is just about my favorite thing at the Fair. I look forward to it every year. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for my arteries) I found zero curds. I did, however and much to my horror, find another deep fried dairy product.

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Needless to say, that didn’t really sound as good as a cheese curd. Blech.

The highlight of the fair for all of us was something we have never seen at the Minnesota State Fair: racing pigs! Oh yes, it is as wonderful as it sounds. The winning pig gets an Oreo cookie, and the other pigs merely get some cookie crumbs, so they are, as I would be, very motivated to get the whole cookie. The result is little porkers tearing around the track like their tails are on fire.

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And as if that weren’t sufficiently wonderful, then they run the race with a little swimming pool between them and the cookie. The pigs launch in with piggy abandon.

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Note the pink pig in mid-leap!

So, all in all, a fun day was had by all. For me the best part was spending a day with these two goof-balls.

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It’s a bird, it’s a plane….

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It’s a little tiny Superman! Isn’t he cute?

Little Bean took the decision of what to be for Halloween very, very seriously. He vacillated for a while between Spiderman and a Ninja Turtle. These are big decisions, after all! Then, as the holiday approached I told him he needed to lock in his choice so I could make his costume. Then he chose Superman and stuck with it.

Little Bean looks forward to Halloween with a particular devotion every year. This holiday is really important to him. I think he likes the fun of dressing up in a costume, and of course the candy is a plus. I think he would be thrilled if it were Halloween every day.

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Not to be outdone by a four-year-old, the Physicist decided to surprise me by dressing up as the Doctor (from the wonderfully fun British series Doctor Who, one of my very favorite things in the world). He got major points for ingenuity, using only things he already had, and making the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver out of a pen light and a marble. Maybe he was one part Doctor, one part MacGyver.

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At one point in the obligatory Halloween photo shoot the Doctor and Superman faced off, but the sonic screwdriver was completely ineffective.

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I didn’t get in on the costume fun this year, mostly because I spent all my creative time and energy on making Little Bean’s costume. Maybe next year. But I sure enjoyed watching the boys enjoy their costumes!

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Sunrise

One recent morning I got up the gumption to get up early and take a run on the beach at sunrise. It was marvelous, but as I ran I thought to myself, “Self, you know what would be even better than running on the beach at sunrise? NOT running and watching the sun come up while sitting on the beach with a hot beverage.”

So that’s exactly what I did a few days later. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of sleeping as late as I can get away with, but there was something magical about greeting the sun the moment it appeared.

How many dish cloths does one girl need?

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You may remember that one goal of our Florida adventure is downsizing and thinking more carefully about what we own. While the packing and unpacking process certainly helped to get rid of the low-hanging fruit – the things we haven’t touched in ten years, for instance – we still have room to grow. One of the things I have learned in the last two months is that with a smaller place to live I still need to organize my things in a way that works for the way I move and live in this place. If the things I have don’t fit in the space available, then I have too many things. For instance, in our house in Saint Paul I used to have a whole shelf in the built-in buffet for kitchen towels. I never, ever discarded a kitchen towel because I didn’t need to. I had plenty of space for them all. And nothing was wrong with any of them, so why get rid of any? And really, kitchen towels are useful things, right?

Well, in our new place I don’t have that much room for kitchen towels. Now, based on the space available and how I really live in the space, the towels work best in a drawer in the hutch where we put our dishes. Could I have finagled a spot to put ALL my towels? Probably, but they would have either displaced something that worked better in that space, or they would have been less accessible. More than a third of the kitchen towels I owned didn’t fit in the drawer.

My first reaction was disappointment. Oh man, they don’t fit. Then I tried to see how many I could cram into the drawer. It’s not a very deep drawer, and I quickly discovered that trying to cram in too many towels would make the drawer very difficult to open and close, which would make me go postal really fast, I promise you.

Then I realized something. Exactly three of the towels had any sentimental value to me. I put those three in the drawer and then put in the ones that were still in good shape and that I liked the most. And when I reached the point where I had what I felt would be enough towels to have a good rotation (I knew better than to think Oh sure, I’ll just wash them more often. Let’s keep it real folks) and to account for any massive spills or kitchen explosions (which, if you know me in the kitchen, is a reasonable concern), I determined that I had enough.

And it’s worked out pretty well so far. I haven’t run out of kitchen towels. I have not raised my face to the heavens and lamented My kingdom for a dish cloth! 

Admittedly, kitchen towels are a pretty easy area to downsize. Shoes? That’s another story. But the process is exactly that: a process. For now I can rest well knowing that I have exactly as many kitchen towels as I need.

Riverside Arts Market

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On Saturday we went to the best arts/farmer’s market we’ve found yet. It’s the Riverside Arts Market, which runs every Saturday all year round (!). It’s held in the trendy Riverside neighborhood underneath the massive Fuller Warren bridge. (There are seriously a lot of bridges in this city!) It was a fantastic mix of fresh locally grown produce, many food vendors, and all kinds of fun, good quality art. They also hold free yoga classes all day long in a small amphitheater-like spot under the bridge. I didn’t come prepared to do the downward dog, but you can bet that next time I’ll wear something more suited to it.

We came hungry, so we immediately snarfed down some dumplings from a Thai booth, and some amazing blue crab soup from a southern food booth.

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Little Bean was a little more fond of the ice cream we got afterwards.

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For me the highlight was picking up some beautiful beets and red bell peppers that I promptly turned into borsht, and drooling over the local lemons and limes. I have designs on those next weekend.

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Speaking of produce, I have been itching to get my hands dirty and grow some things in this magical place where it rarely gets below freezing. I have found a nearby community garden and will hopefully receive my plot soon. I feel like a bit of a dunce asking people what in the world one can plant in October (is it possible??) but I have been assured that there are lots of things that can be planted now. I can’t wait to dig in (har, har).

Flying High, Art Walks, and the Last Ten Percent

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On a windy afternoon the other day, I sat on the beach reading a book. I don’t know what made me look up all of a sudden, but I looked out at the ocean just in time to see five or six people wind surfing by – or whatever you call the crazy sport where you attach a small parasail to a surfboard. Why they didn’t just get picked up and carried away by the wind I don’t know. It probably has something to do with physics.

They blew past with reckless speed, but looking out at all the parasails dipping and rising was really beautiful. Like a flock of rare colorful birds flying by. And then as they were right in front of me I saw that some of them were making wild leaps off the waves.

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I think we can safely add this to the list of things I will never do.

The exploration of our new city continued yesterday evening when we went downtown for the monthly Jacksonville Art Walk. It was delightful!

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It takes place mostly in downtown’s Hemming Park, but it sprawls into nearby streets as well. This being October, they had an Octoberfest theme complete with a polka band and guys in lederhosen. We scouted out the art and goodies, but perhaps the best find of the night was a bookstore. On a whim we walked into Chamblin’s and were immediately in love. They have new and used books, all mixed in together, and displayed in the most wonderfully haphazard way.

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Roaming these stacks made me want to read all the books, and I mean ALL the books. It was a lovely feeling that I never get from the more antiseptic big-box bookstores. And as we were leaving we talked briefly with the sales lady who informed us that there existed another location of the store that was EVEN BIGGER. I smell another family outing!

And finally, I know I am still remiss in posting photos of the Belich Beach Bungalow. We’ve officially been here for one month today, and while we are 90% settled in, that last 10% is enough to keep me from posting it for the world to see. We have a couple of languishing boxes in the office room, pictures stacked on the bookshelves waiting to be hung, and a table by the front door that simply doesn’t fit anywhere that needs to find a new home. The thing with the last 10% is that it would be really easy to get used to things being mostly where they should be and to ignore the few things that aren’t. But I am determined to knock out the last few things so that I can share with you all this little place we’re calling home for the time being.

 

Night Markets and Flea Markets

Upon moving to Jacksonville there were two things we knew right away that we wanted to check out. The Jaxsons Night Market, and the Saint Augustine Flea Market. On the third Thursday of each month, the Jaxsons Night Market sets up shop right in downtown Jacksonville. They have some of your typical farmer’s market fare as well as food trucks and live music.

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Little Bean and the Physicist rock out to some tunes.

I was particularly in love with this awesome mobile coffee set up:

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With a little one in tow we decided to get there on the early end, but the fun goes into the evening past a certain someone’s bed time. (Me.) It was definitely a cool event with a fun vibe. And it was nice as a Jax newbie to get a taste of some of the local offerings. We got a literal taste by chowing down some truly delectable hand pies from My Grandmother’s Pie. We’ll be back next month!

Then we made the trip down to Saint Augustine (about 45 minutes south) for their weekly flea market. Once per month they also do a motorcycle swap meet, which the Physicist was particularly excited about.

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Now, when we were down in Cocoa Beach we checked out the Titusville flea market, which, looking at the physical structures set up for it, looked to be pretty big. But when we went there it was really sad. There were maybe five vendors, all with really junky stuff – and not cool flea-market junky. Just ick. And there were feral cats, which sadly were the most interesting thing we saw there. (Now you know why I didn’t bother to blog about it!) So we were hoping that the Saint Augustine version would be more impressive, and it did not disappoint. It was massive. It stretched on and on. Some vendors had better stuff than others, but the sheer quantity of them made it a super fun outing.

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There was absolutely nothing there that we wanted, but my oh my was it fun to explore. I desperately wish that I had taken pictures of all the really horrible art I saw that day. If we go back I’ll be sure to do that because wow. Just wow.