What do you see... that is still the same today?
What do you see… after nineteen years have flown by?
What do you see… by the dawn's earliest pink light?
What do you see… as we continue our perilous fight?
What do you see… looking down at two holes in the solemn ground?
What do you see… forever searching and maybe still not found?
What do you see… nineteen diligent years later?
What do you see… as you peer into those deep craters?
What do you see… from an airplane’s crash?
What do you see… past all the fire and burned ash?
What do you see… past the smoke and dusty air?
What will you believe… as people begin to not care?
And do you still hear… that valiant band playing through the quiet air?
And will you bear witness… to those fighting still and forever as they must?
As the next round starts... and we have to keep rolling past all the dust.
What do you see… through twilights shining gleam?
What do you see… past all those forces unseen?
What do you see… through those shining bright stars and breathtaking broad stripes?
What do you see… through the horror of all those bombs bursting this very night?
What do you see… through pollution and the reddest of red blood?
What do you see… as free men - and women - stand here in the mud?
What do you see… past Liberty’s smile?
What do you see… from sea to shining sea all those miles?
What do you see… though concealed fighting to be disclosed?
What do you see… as foe’s strike their continual battle blows?
Do you see there is proof?
That our flag is still there?
Oh Say Darling Can You See… her most beautiful story?
As she stands here - proud… in all of her glory?
Yes - I do.
I do see it all.
Yes even in war’s havoc and confusion and nineteen years later.
I even see Heaven on Earth and God our Creator.
I see that reflection shine above all and very tall.
I see Angels in the sky… And God in our hearts as we bawl.
I see reflection bounced off millions of broken chains.
Forever more - unconfined.
I see all those who paved our very way.
With their very lives - they all gave.
Yes, I see those next pages of her remarkable story be flipped.
As her bright blazen stays now - and forever - lit.
And, I STILL see the land of the freest of free… and know that this is God’s Country home, of the very, very brave. ~
11/29/2019 0 Comments
At the beginning of every January I write a list of goals for the upcoming year. I don’t classify them as resolutions… I tend to dislike the term. There’s something about the word ‘resolve’ that’s so formal and ‘contract-binding’ like. “We hereby resolve to…” It’s as if you didn’t solve the resolve that you have failed? The contract and agreement you made with yourself was a disappointment, a let-down. You then become further discouraged. And you then give up on the whole idea that sparked the resolution in the first place.
So I like to use the word ‘goal’ better. A goal is less formal. And reaching that goal then becomes a little less formal too; giving you more leeway as to how to get there, and when to accomplish said goal. It becomes about the doing, and less about the deadline, due date, and resolution itself. Just do - don’t resolve to do.
So yeah, I write down goals for the year, each year in January. And it doesn't have to be January 1 - it can still be December, it can be mid January. But roughly around that time of year, I plot out some goals for the upcoming year. I write it all down on actual paper...wood from a tree. Not in my iPhone - but on paper.
Did you know that the act of handwriting your goal instead of merely typing it out produces inside of you a whopping 40% higher chance of accomplishing that goal? Who said paper is dead? Right? Get a journal. It can be a cheapo one, a fancy one, a very expensive one…Just get one YOU enjoy looking at every day. Any way, get a journal and start writing down your goals.
Then follow up with those goals.
About half way through the year, roughly June, or somewhere into July, I follow up with the goals I wrote down on paper in January. It’s a reminder and a refresher for my brain. Oh yeah! I forgot about that one! Oooh… wahoo, I did that one! Or, oh yeah, that one’s still coming up!
Pete’s Bar was one of those such goals. One coming up. One I had to wait all year for. It was the act of attending a Thanksgiving morning party that could not be achieved or solved on January 1.
Thanksgiving 2019, I finally accomplished that bucket list of a goal. And it was such a good time that it goes without me even having to tell my brain I already know this is going to be a new tradition - an obvious must-do for next year.
In 2017, just after moving down here from Illinois, I found out about the Pete’s Bar tradition. I intended to go that year.
And it was that year in 2017 we had a Florida rainstorm of rainstorms early Thanksgiving morning. We did our turkey trot, and ran straight to the car. It was a summer rainstorm, in November. It might as well have been a hurricane. It was quite a rain. And we skipped Pete’s Bar entirely that year so hubby and I so we could reach dryer grounds. After all, we had been standing on pavement that had inches of water sitting on it, and cold and soaking wet gym shoes and feet, from doing our turkey trot in a flood.
In 2018. we had driven up to Illinois to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family. But that meant yet again, Pete’s Bar was missed by us. And knowing even more about the tradition last year, I told myself - next year, for sure!
So then 2019 came along. January was here, and I wrote down my goals for the year. I tend to think broadly and brainstorm broadly. It allows for more creativity and flexibility in all my goals that I aim for.
I put down some really fabulous ideas… like starting my Etsy Shop, making my first and very own set of business cards, creating a few wave paintings, attend some more painting workshops, etc. And really a whole page in my journal of purely business goals. I have accomplished ALL. OF. IT. Not one thing left undone for 2019 for Christine’s Floridian Dreams’ small business venture. So I continue working onward.
My personal goals are quite different. They are more detailed. Specific books I wanted to read this year, restaurants I wanted to try, towns I wanted to visit. Maybe a specific ice cream shop to try or a new coffee shop I want to visit.
And my list is long. Very long. And that’s ok! I write down so many varied and quite unique goals for myself that I know I might not accomplish them all. And that’s ok too! That goes back to GOALS - not resolutions.
We all know that the gym is alive and well, breathing, and packed on January 1. Every year. And we all know that by the end of that very month, and onward into February, gym attendance rates drop significantly. Every year. Without fail. People RESOLVE to hit the gym on January 1. And by February they are discouraged and give up.
I tend to think they give up because they only thought BIG on January 1. And they forgot to think SMALL as well.
It’s those small and incremental changes that work best in life.
Don't start BIG on January 1!
Start small… And start today.
Why not start today? Why not start on November 29. Who said you can’t? Who said you have to wait until January to change your life? If you think of something you want to do, just go ahead and do it, now - get started - now!
My goals are broad, and many. I don’t mind one bit that I don’t accomplish all of my goals. I pick and choose the ones that inspire me at the time. I pick the ones that make the most sense to me throughout that year and at that moment. I pick the ones that speak back to me. It’s God’s hand in my goal-setting and it’s God’s hand in my action-taking. Only through what he tells me do I know what I’m going to do next. He leads me.
Well, fate and the Lord above, did lead me to Pete’s Bar on Thanksgiving morning of 2019.
So this weekend finally arrived, and watching on the news all the absolute crazy winter storms raging all across the country and stranding travelers everywhere, made me relieved and filled with great and deep gratitude that we did not attempt to make the drive up to Illinois.
Finally, and after two years of missing it, I wasn’t about to let Thanksgiving 2019 head out the door, before I walked in the door - of Pete’s Bar. And I did just that.
It was the BEST DAY EVER. As I've told my family and friends and the internet world and social media. So thank you Pete’s Bar, for a fabulous community gathering like nothing I’ve ever seen.
No, not all resolutions, goals, dreams and aspirations, are fulfilled on January 1. Some are resolved or completed on that holiday Thursday of November that comes round each year. And that’s A O K.
If you think small, and detailed,, instead of resolving big and broad, you are goal-aiming. Your aspiring. You’re ON THE WAY to getting to where you want to be. You’re deep in the knitty gritty. You. Are. Working. The journey counts too.
If I was in purely resolution-mode, instead of goal-mode, when I didn’t reach one of my first resolutions in January, it would have started a downward decline of potentially giving up on my next resolutions. Failure-mode. If one is in failure-mode, it’s that much harder to get where you want to be. It might have led to a completely different year. It may have been more negative than positive. Instead, I live each day in the positive, no matter what happens. No matter what is going on, today is a great day!
So go into it all thinking positive. Thinking about the journey. Thinking about flexibility. And thinking each day is a new beginning. SO WHAT!... If you didn’t reach your five pound per month weight loss goal last month. Nobody says that means you have to stop altogether. Maybe you lost 4 pounds instead of five. Maybe you lost one pound. Guess what? You’re still one pound lighter for it. You’re still on the journey.
Maybe you gained weight instead of losing? Gasppp… Guess what?... So what! Suck it up - and keep going. Then, GASP again, because of all that breathing and movement you are continuing to do.
***The only difference between those you don’t reach their goals, and those who do, is that fact that achievers just don’t give up! Period. They just keep going. So, just keep going! So what if it takes a month longer. So what if you gained weight and want to lose a huge chunk of it. In failure mode, you’ve already given up. In goal mode, you keep going, no matter what. Eventually, because you are not giving up, you will get there.
Well, what if it takes you eight more months to lose the weight? What if you wanted the weight loss done by six months, or a year? If, five years from now, the weight is lost, and you are on your way to doing other new and exciting things… are you really going to care that today, all those years back in the past, that it took you eighteen months to lose the weight, instead of twelve months? Or if the weight loss took three years of the next five? So what? Who cares? Five years from now the weight is off and you are living a different life and you are grateful for the time it took, because the TIME is what made you into who you are five years from now!
Don’t hate on time. Don’t complain about time. Use time - to your advantage.
Pete’s Bar was a different kind of goal to have. It was one that had to take place on Thanksgiving for me. It wasn’t one I could do during the year. Well, actually, I could walk in Pete’s and visit there, yes, any time. But it was the act of attending ‘Pete’s Bar Thanksgiving Morning Gathering’ that I officially wanted to accomplish.
So yeah, this year I did do just that. I pursued all my other goals every other day of the year, browsing and picking and choosing which ones I wanted to work on. Then when Thanksgiving came up to the calendar, I told myself, yes, we’re doing it. No matter what.
And that’s exactly what we did. We raced our turkey trot. And went over to Pete’s.
The tradition is this: Pete’s is the place to be at the beach on Thanksgiving morning.
And there’s nowhere else I would have wanted to be!
And it ended up being goal-day all around.
I raced the 3.1 mile Tony’s Turkey Trot. Without training and without any prep workreally. My body is now resilient enough to handle the task. That’s something a few years ago would have NEVER worked for me. Hence why it was a great goal accomplished that I merely even went out there and winged it.
And then, I took a fall during the race, got back up, and kept going. I tell you this because, a fall such as this one, in the past, is something that would have been devastating to me. It would have destroyed me. It would have turned the dial on me into failure-mode… Leading to further failures.
Yes, this Thanksgiving I took a hard, and quite ridiculous fall onto the pavement. And only about a quarter mile into the race. I tripped on one of those huge yellow reflective strips in the middle of the road. It was sticking out of the ground about an inch. It stopped me dead. I fell forward from my momentum and to my left side, pushed my arms out to catch myself. Landing on the glass screen of my Apple Watch of my left arm, my phone and right hand of my other arm sliding and burning onto payment, My left knee hit the road hard and slid and burned my skin from from the scraping as I skidded. And my left shoulder and neck area took the brunt of the fall slamming the pavement with more bruises from that.
The fall felt like it took ten minutes. I might as well have been tumbling down the road for a mile. Life went in slow motion. Just like in a movie. I couldn’t stop and couldn’t believe what was happening to me. It was surreal, and a strange feeling. I lost all control, and down I went.
I haven’t hit the payment that hard in an athletic event or workout in years upon years. I have fallen so many times in the ancient past, have already had many bruised knees, that the scabbed up and burned left knee I have today from yesterday is merely a fresh coat of paint added onto layers and layers of art from endurance activity of the past.
But you wanna know what? The fall did NOT last ten minutes. It lasted maybe a second. And as soon as I was face down on the ground people came by and literally picked me up off the road floor! It all happened faster than I could even believe. And then I just kept running! The very next breath and the very next thing I did was JUST KEEP GOING.
I knew I was gonna hurt later. I knew I was hurt right then. But I also knew I didn’t break anything either. And I felt that in that moment as I stood up that I was FINALLY resilient enough to withstand the fall that just happened - hitting the pavement, bruises and blood and all. It was because of the past, all the hard work throughout the recent years, all the resiliency I built up, that led me to having the ability to stand up straight, continue onward, finish the race, and head on down to Pete’s Bar. Ahead right toward a goal I set in January, and meet it with confidence in November.
That’s why you KEEP GOING. Because, all those days of movement, all those days when it’s tough, you don’t feel like it, but you do it anyway, even if it's the tiniest action ever, you just keep going. And one day, when you really need it, your body will be strong enough to withstand the pain. The incident. The accident. The heartache. The sadness. Whatever it is that hurts you in that moment. You will be able to bounce back from with a resiliency that you never knew you had. And it will be utilized right then and there, 100% when you need it the most - which is the most important thing to know.
And the kindest of kind thank you’s all around to the people who stopped their Thanksgiving Turkey Trot goals themselves, to help me get off the ground. When you feel it’s time to lose faith in all of humanity, all the chaos of the world, don’t.
Be that person who stops, for even a second, to help someone else. I honestly didn’t expect to be picked up. In the long ten minute twenty four hour one second that my face was eye to eye with the hard and black roads of Atlantic Beach, I thought how can I possibly pick myself up?! But faster than I could even complete that thought bubble, I had been picked up by others! So beyond my resiliency, it was other humans who helped me initially.
We are a team, world.
And thank you, from a fellow teammate, for helping me out on Thanksgiving morning.
Because you helped me carry on, that act helped me finish my race. And go on to continue to have the best day ever.
After my race was over, they ran out of water! And with still tons of people coming in to the finish, and another one mile fun run to go, that wasn’t good news for lots of people who needed a drink. That usually doesn’t happen at the countless running events I’ve participated in during my life. And not even counting my fall as bad, it was the lack of water that was the only real bad thing that happened that day. But I’m assuming they already learned their mistake and will be recalculating their water purchase for next year. Luckily, living in Florida heat, we don’t go anywhere without water in our car. So we walked back to the car to grab my water bottle, I chugged it down. And then we headed back on out to the party I had patiently waited all year for.
It was the only race I’ve ever been to where people weren’t filing out to their cars afterward to get on back home quickly to cook their Thanksgiving meal. More people were coming in. By the time we left the party, there were more cars on the streets of Neptune Beach that even the 4th of July. And the 4th tends to be the biggest event in town, or so I thought.
I’ve never been to a party like this one. And yes, it really was the best day ever.
It reminded me of college spring break in New Orleans. LOL. It reminded me of Key West. It reminded me of VACATION. It reminded me of the best of the best and most fun memories of my life. It reminded me why I’m so very glad I call the beach my home.
Thank you to Pete’s Bar for literally throwing the event of the year, here at The Beaches.
We purchased two drinks from one of the street tents. Made with champagne and orange juice, and champagne with cranberry juice. I told hubby to order two… not just so he could drink them both, but so we could both stand in front of Pete’s Bar sign, and take a selfie holding our drinks. Mission Accomplished. I am that dork, yes.
And yes, we were photo-bombed. It officially ranks as my best photo-bomb to date.
And then we went in Pete’s. It was awesome. No other word for it. And it was just as they all said it would be.
There were literally rows and rows of premade Bloody Mary’s and such. Get on up to the bar, take your drinks, and pay, fast. They had countless people coming in and out. All leaving to go stand in the street with drinks in their hands, going to talk and drink in front of Pete’s. There were pool tables set up with mixers and garnishes on top. There was another table covered with funny tee shirts and hats for sale. An embroidered turkey holding a Bloody Mary hat. We bought two at $15.00 a piece. They will get used.
We left Pete’s so we could let the countless others waiting in line to come in and get their Thanksgiving morning cocktails. We stood outside. We walked all around. The weather was perfect. It was quite a holiday morning indeed.
We walked up and down the entire barricaded-off streets. No cars needed or wanted in Beaches Town Center this festive Thanksgiving morning. More people kept coming.
I then heard the strangest screeching sound. First, I thought someone was just having a little too much fun… you know, from all the Bloody Mary’s, Mimosa’s, beer, and countless bottles of champagne sitting in buckets of ice under tents, tended to by the local area businesses.
But then I heard the screech again. Much louder, and much closer to me. I had to stop and look around. What was that strangest of strange sounds?
It was a parrot. Two actually.
And meeting my new parrot friends and holding a parrot for the first time in my life, was another reason all kinds of life goals were achieved Thanksgiving morning of 2019. It wasn't’ the turkey trot, the 5k distance, the act of falling onto pavement, the getting back up and trying once again, not all of that. Been there done that. It was holding a parrot for the first time ever, that really sealed the deal. Yes, it was the best day ever.
The man tending to the parrots told me to just hold my arm out. That he won’t bite me. That I shouldn’t be scared. How could I be scared? The person in front of me was a mere small child holding the parrot, if she could do it, I could do it! The blue one came gently onto my forearm. He slowly inched his way up my arm.
He kept getting closer.
Hello, he said.
Hello! I said to him.
The parrot keeper said this parrot I was holding was 37 years old! I was in shock at that age for a bird, knowing very little about them. I said, oh hello again, I’m 38 years old!
He spoke back to me some more. We were conversing on how good we both look for our similar ages. Sadly, I’m not very sure what he was trying to tell me after that point, though, he kept talking. But yes, we bonded. We’re now friends for life. I miss him already. I tend to think he wished me a Happy Thanksgiving.
So moving onward to walk up and down all of Town Center, there was a stage set up by the beach entryway between One Ocean Resort and The Lemon Bar. There were photo booths. There were food trucks serving Atlantic Beach BBQ, and Cuban sandwiches. And walking beyond all the tents of various alcohol for sale, Southern Grounds was open for business! Southern Grounds is one of my favorite places on this earth. And to see them open on this holiday made my day even that much better.
The Courtyard was packed! There was a singer and guitar player there as well. We walked in and waited in line for coffee. I’ve been there countless times. It was definitely this busiest I’ve ever seen Southern Grounds. The line for coffees and various tempting pastries was wrapped around the store and to the door. Thank you for being open on Thanksgiving and serving fabulous coffee drinks to the post turkey trot racers and the local community.
We sat outside there for a while with our coffees, enjoying the live music.
We walked to the end of the street, by the Bookmark. And leaned by the Neptune Beach police cruisers who help make this friendly and casual street party possible. We stood there and looked down the street and took it all in. We said, THIS is a new tradition.
And it was at that moment, late into the morning, the sun high in the sky, that a thought came through my head. I realized that had I been home right now, I would have been tending to my turkey by this point. It was then at that exact moment yet another thought bubble popped above my head. Yes, there I stood at the far end of the block party, watching all the fun, the easily thousands of people, thinking it was the best day ever; and my thought bubble informed me that my turkey was still sitting patiently in our freezer.
Ha. I finally did it. I am 38 years old after all. I had forgotten to defrost our turkey this year! That never happened to me before. It was bound to happen; after all, I am as old as a blue and yellow parrot.
It was either my old-age, or maybe I could attribute that act of forgetting about my turkey to all those above-mentioned goals that I’ve been working on. But, never fear, when we got home we put our turkey in a sink of hot water... That helped do the trick. Two big thumbs up to us.
We hung out on the street some more and laughed. When it was time for us to leave, We walked back through the crowds, sipping our coffee, taking it all in, saying goodbye to Pete’s Bar. I will definitely be back. I texted my family and said they really should be considering spending Thanksgiving in the South with us next year. It was the day of days. And we hadn’t even cooked yet. I still had tons of good food to look forward to! Yeah, it really was the best day ever.
Now, it’s your turn to have your best day ever. Stop resolving. Stop waiting. Stop being patient for January 1 to come rolling on by. January 1 is NOT your start date. TODAY is your start date. Whatever it is you are wanting. Whatever you are dreaming up inside your head. Whatever throughout bubble forms in the clouds in the sky above your brain. Stop waiting. And start doing. Listen to those bubbles. They may be delicate but they tend to be the thoughts that shine the most.
And when you fall, and you fall hard, let others pick you up if need be. Know that you will fall at some point. It’s guaranteed actually. Because you cannot achieve without failure.
There is always darkness before the dawn. So accept your fall on the hard ground for what it is. A moment. Get up once again. Let others help. Dust yourself off. And keep going. Cause no matter what day it is, It’s ALWAYS a good day for doing something you’ve always dreamed.
So get started today. Set a goal today.
Get out there and make this day, this very Black and very random of Friday’s, the very best day of your life. ~
I’ve dreamed of visiting a Southern Living Idea House for probably as long as I’ve known of the idea itself. Fascinated with their magazine, I always read the Idea House stories, soaked in the advertisements inviting the public to come see, and desperately wanted to attend a tour. And then, this year the Southern Living Idea House was literally right next door to me! How could I not go?
I snagged up tickets in practically the same breath I found out about the events location. I live in on San Pablo Island, and just a few island hops north of me sits Amelia Island. Crane Island is a very small island within Amelia island… Have you ever been to such a place? An island within an island? I have fortunately, many times, and it never gets old.
Hop onto an island… and then hop onto yet another island… that is housed within the confines of and accessed by that larger island. Fascinating, right? Crane Island is its own island on Amelia Island.
To me, Amelia Island’s natural barriers seem like true southern low country. The tides practically touched the exterior of the home we toured, and all the surrounding properties on the quaint island. Breathtaking live oaks surround the islands exterior and draping over the roads leading there, along with nature at its best anywhere you look once upon Crane Island. Crane is a mere tiny little place, located right next door to the Amelia Island Airport. It’s somewhat off the beaten path, and with lots of round-abouts, difficult to find, without GPS.
We booked our tickets through the Eventbrite App - two tickets at $22.00 each, plus fees. It was worth every penny. Of course I took the hubby along - myself, going purely for the interior design and decorating features, and my husband, always interested in the architectural features of a home.
Back in Illinois, and prior to our move down south, we used to live in a home that was dated from 1840. A very old home by my standards, residing in a small strip of a national historic district… and always something wrong with it. So while I called it my very own Green Gables, it was also very much my very own version of The Money Pit. When we moved and sold our Green Gables, I was sick and tired of old. I just wanted new.
I also think that’s why I love the Southern Living Idea House. The whole concept of the Idea House is to showcase and put right out on display, both for tours and in print, the newest of the new ideas out there in architecture and design, appliances, and decor. My roughly 170 year old home in Illinois had definitely taken its toll on me, and us both, and I’m not interested any more in learning how in the strange and backward ways the pipes were set up, or how I couldn't renovate the bathroom into exactly what I wanted because my head already was hitting the roof while standing in the shower - and I wasn’t about to move the roof. That old house was a dream home, an ideal home, for a tiny bit of time. And once all the money kept leaving our wallets and then some just to keep it standing, the gray hairs it gave me were no longer worth it to me. I was glad to say goodbye to our old house, even though we did truly love it, with all its quirks.
And now we live in a small, but very new, apartment. New everything. New pipes. New walls. New electrical sockets. A cable hook up...Sigh... It’s nothing luxurious by any means, but it new might as well be luxury to my brains expectations, based on my brains past experiences.
So going from old house, to small apartments, it was great for my eyes to then feast on yet another way of life… how the other half lives… Ha. The Southern Living Idea House we toured this weekend is for sale… Yes, it’s for sale for a mere $4,300,000.
And with over 4,500 square feet of living space, and a half acre of property, right on the coast, I could never even begin to imagine the life of the future owner. How does anyone afford such a place?... That was sometimes the only question my brain could think and process while touring the massive home. I can’t even fathom how much money a person has to earn to purchase this life, or earn to maintain that said life??? But while I can’t grasp the financial implications of such a property, and nor do I even want to - I can grasp all the design. All the decor. Better yet… All the Christmas decor!
Honestly, that’s really all I was interested in - about the home itself. It was decorated BEAUTIFULLY!!! I can’t emphasize that enough! So tasteful, so modern, but classic at the same time. Nothing - not one thing in the entire home - screamed at me that it was going to be out of style any time soon.
I think that's why I love classic design. It’s classic because it stands the test of time. Some of my favorite pieces of wooden furniture I own in my own home are the oldest ones. The ones with history. The classic ones that match anywhere. I loved the feeling and vibe given off by all the furniture and design throughout the entire Idea House. I love how warm and inviting and cozy it all was. This Idea House had all of that. All of that and then some.
And the holiday decor was the added touch that made the entire home quite special indeed. It was heavenly to tour. I couldn’t help but think my mom would LOVE this outing if she was down here in Florida with me. Just come on down for the weekend and go with me? I thought.
Mom is the one who got me utterly and completely hooked on all things magazine. And while I’ve tried to change and adapt with the times to read digitally if at all possible, there’s just something not the same as holding a paper copy of a magazine to read. Flip through, and glance at all the pictures.
Reading a paper book or magazine to my is literally like that scene in Full House (the original, not the re-make), when little Michelle Tanner hears the ice cream truck driving past the house.
She screams, “Ice cream man,” on repeat.
She takes her piggy bank.
She shakes it. And shakes it.
She screams for money from her piggy bank. “Give me back my money, YOU PIG!”
She yells at her bank, shaking it still. But the bank is ceramic, and she doesn’t yet know how to release her funds from his belly. In the meantime, the ice cream truck is heard driving away and they miss him entirely. Her older sister DJ tells that they have ice cream in the freezer… just go eat THAT ice cream.
But it’s not the same,” says Michelle.
It’s not the same. It's definitely not the same thing as going to get ice cream, out of a truck, on the street, in front of your home. The action can’t be replicated. It’s not the act of eating said ice cream, it’s where the ice cream is coming from before it enters your mouth.
Michelle Tanner understood that much as a very small child. She knew how she wanted to spend her funds from her piggy bank. It was the experience that Michelle really wanted, not necessarily just the ice cream.
And sometimes digitally reading something is not the same as reading it in print… on paper.
Flipping the pages at your leisure.
Bookmarking your spot… and closing the cover.
And then looking at the beautiful cover as the magazine sits and takes a rest break on your coffee table or ottoman. Or putting the hard bound book back on the book shelf after finishing it. To keep the book after reading, add it to your book collection, and gaze upon it and dream of what adventures it holds inside its pages.
Paper is just not the same as digital, even though the content itself can be the same. Reading a paper magazine is the act of eating ice cream out of a truck - not just eating straight from your freezer.
And all my many years of reading about homes and their decor and their paint colors and swatches to match, while flipping the pages, in magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies Home Journal, Woman’s Day, Martha Stewart Living, Coastal Living, and Southern Living - studying home layouts, and countless before and after images - all of that does not compare one bit to seeing one of those described and written about and photographed homes - in person.
It was a simple outing. About just over an hour from home. $22.00 per person. But it was a dream. Realized.
Pulling up to the Idea House, walking in, and opening the door to be wowed by the visualization, was a real dream - come true.
The home was stunning. It did truly WOW me. Visually, the exterior was very natural, and seemed to camouflage into its surroundings. In fact, we walked out onto the slip to view the home from afar, and while the trees covered most of the homes vantage point from that angle all the way out on the water, I knew the home was right there, mostly nestled in and blended into its natural surroundings.
Living in Florida for a few years now, I couldn’t help but notice right away how high the water already was, and how very close to the home the water was sitting. If a hurricane came through, I do fear for the Idea House in that situation. New or not. Quality construction, or not. Newest building codes and hurricane proof windows, etc. etc. notwithstanding. I’ve now lived through a few hurricanes in the south, and that’s more than I ever want to. And all the building codes and 200 mile per hour wind proof this or that, doesn’t really matter to me - once one is bearing down on us. It’s a feeling of doom and gloom, either way, so I honestly didn’t care about how strong the house was, and therefore, didn't pay much attention to those features of the home… I only knew if a hurricane was heading its way, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near its location, baby steps from already high and some choppy waters that day.
But regardless of the homes strength and quality construction, it was a fabulous set up. The home has a lot of stairs, so it’s definitely not for someone who doesn’t like a lot of exercise while hanging out at home. We entered through the foyer stepping directly into the great room - the main living room of the home. To the left is the master bedroom, residing on the same main level. With wrap-around patios and porches all facing the water... Every direction there was water - there was an outdoor porch for viewing and contemplation.
To the right is the kitchen and dining room as well as a massive beast of a laundry room. The laundry facility was so big, to me, it might as well be laundry for a large-scale hotel operation. Almost unimaginable to me, but at the same time, I loved every inch of that room. I do a LOT of laundry, and I actually think that room may have been my favorite part of the Idea House.
There are two set of stairs to second floor sleeping and more living areas - each set of stairs and second story does not connect to the other set of stairs or second level in any way. This leaves two very separate living and sleeping areas from each other. We were told it was set that way so one of the upper areas could be utilized as an in-law living arrangement, complete with its own bathroom, and slightly separated from the remainder of the home.
All of it, the entire home, was quite a set up. Not for me though, ha - much too big. Much too much to keep clean. Just the act of vacuuming all the sets of stairs would probably take me half a day. But of course, someone who can afford all that, can probably afford to hire a housekeeper to keep all of that very clean for them... I heard many people commenting while touring the home. Laugh out loud… I can’t even imagine such a life living in this enormous house.
And while my brain and imagination do have major difficulties visualizing and understanding the cost that goes into this home, its purchase, and its deep maintenance costs living directly next to salty waters and salty air, my brain very much aimed right into the decor.
I really enjoy seeing how a home is decorated, if merely to take some of those ideas, put them into puzzle pieces in the back of my brain, close that lid on that puzzle, and keep them ready for a rainy day. Pinterest in my brain. I’ll then take those ideas out of my brain closet and see how I can work something unique into my own decor. At some later date and well into the future, something will spark a memory, and two puzzle pieces will fit together into a fabulous project for me to complete on my own.
I loved all the holly/berry for the holidays mixed in with their everyday decor. And I was definitely inspired to find some holly of my own. I’m assuming I can find some quite inexpensively, as I have in the past, and make my own small swags for Christmas time to enjoy.
I was inspired by the wallpaper that was hand-etched into backsplashes and as a main accent wall feature. What a neat and modern twist to the old and very messy wallpapers of the past.
I loved the furniture and its placement throughout. Complete feng shui to my brain. Rooms set up to flow together, but defined and separate as well.
I absolutely adored the gingerbread house little accents acting as place settings on the dining room table. I’ve already put that idea directly into the back of my brain for a future project.
I loved basically everything about the home, really. I must say the only real thing I didn’t like about the concept, was of how much such a home and lifestyle would cost someone. That cost is really the only thing that I couldn’t shove into my brain, and wouldn’t want to, and definitely wouldn’t want to take home with me. But I adored everything else about the home.
PROS AND CONS ~~ OF THE EXPERIENCE ITSELF
While everything and them some I mentioned above was a pro, and the cost alone is the big and obvious con to me, I wanted to detail for you some features of the experience itself, in case you want to put the Southern Living Idea House tour onto your to-do list for a future outing, or even ahead to a future years Idea House. You’ll have some details on what to expect about the day itself.
And since any time I’m doing pro and cons I’m a fan of ending on a positive note if at all possible, I’m going to start here with my cons, and I’ll end with my pros:
***NON-TRANSFERRABLE - AND NO REFUNDS***
Rain or shine, your ticket is good only for the day purchased. Non-transferable, if you can’t come that day, there is no transfer or refund available. And earlier this week we had sort of a minor emergency in our household, so we both thought we were going to be out of luck and not get to go to the Idea House on our ticketed date - and we were definitely saddened by that. But alas, God answered my countless prayers this week to end our emergency, and the situation did end up working itself out, all was right in our world, and we could attend this weekend as originally planned. Just know, if you purchase tickets - no transfers - and no refunds.
***NOTE THE STAIRS - AND LACK OF RESTROOMS AVAILABLE FOR THE TOURING PUBLIC***
While I previously stated the cost didn’t break the bank, and I justified the cost in my mind… also in my mind, when someone pays $22.00 per person for something, I basically expected and assumed they would have a restroom available. And I was definitely not the only one under that assumption. Countless times I heard people asking where the restroom was. We traveled by auto ferry across the river, and hopped from island to island, drove over an hour in the car, onto Amelia Island and then onto the smaller Crane Island for this outing. And I’m sure others came from afar as well. I have an extremely healthy lifestyle now, and drink a lot of water, on the regular. When you pay for something like this, they really need to have a bathroom available to the public. And if there wasn’t going to be one, they should have mentioned it in the ticket specifications. I do read the fine print. It wasn’t there.
There were also a lot of older people at the event and I could tell the stairs were a challenge for them. If you’re going, plan for lack of restrooms and lots and lots of stairs. I’m not afraid to ask, so myself and many others had to line up and use the ‘unavailable’ and formal bow-tied toilet during the outing. So expect lack of facilities, or going where you technically aren't supposed to be going. With a whopping 5.5 bathrooms in the house, and charging what they do to get all the way out onto the sparsely populated island upon island, plus the lack of public facilities on Crane Island itself, they really need to have a facility available for the touring public. Note - I did share these opinions in my feedback survey they asked me to complete.
At $22.00 per person, I do consider the cost reasonable. I easily could have seen them charging roughly $40.00 per person, and getting away with it, before it became an unreasonably expensive outing for what you are paying for. And $22.00 is not cheap by any means, but at that price, I was able to really have a once-in-a-lifetime experience, share that experience with my hubby, soak in all of this beauty, and not break the bank too much.
The Southern Living Idea House is open and available to the public for a few months. Basically autumn through about mid-December. There are still tickets available, and many date options to choose from as well. The last available ticket purchase date on Eventbrite is for December 15th, 2019. If you are in the area, or this is something you are very interested in attending, I highly recommend going online now and buying you tickets… only a few weeks left! Plus, they were taking cash at the door, for anybody who just stumbled upon the place, or operates in last-minute mode. And cash at the door, I’m assuming, will alleviate the small fees charged by Eventbrite for booking, as well.
While the Idea House has been open for a few months, earlier this week there was another Grand Opening of the home - in its new holiday attire. The Idea House being decorated for Christmas in the South intrigued me immensely. As soon as I knew there was to be decor for the upcoming holidays, I knew I wanted to book my ticket for after that second grand opening so we could see the home decorated. And it was definitely worth it.
And while none of the frosted, sprinkled, and decorated sugar cookies put out on display throughout the home were for us to eat (yes, they did make a point of telling us that much) the event itself can’t help but get someone in the holiday spirit. Plus, I really can’t wait much longer now in anticipation of baking my own Christmas cookies.
Yes, there’s definitely something a bit extra special during the holidays, anywhere you go. And the holiday decor was in each and every room of the house, including the food pantry - which was stocked with peppermints, cookies, and Santa tins. You just can’t miss the holiday spirit when something is decked out in its finest of apparel.
All in all, it was one fabulous outing. It was a 100% Michelle Tanner eating ice cream directly out of the ice cream truck type of outing for me. One that I’m thrilled I was in the vicinity and location to attend for the first time in my life. I probably wouldn’t do it again though - as I’d probably spend my next $22.00 per person on something completely different altogether. But it was worth it - it was worth the travel and the cost to attend. I do very much highly recommend going if the opportunity presents itself. And if you can’t make it to this years event, watch and read Southern Living Magazine in anticipation for their 2020 location.
Yes, It’s definitely good to eat ice cream directly from an ice cream truck once in a while. After all, not all ice cream is created equal.
I now challenge y’all to get out there and do something similar - whether it’s something small like a delicious ice cream cone from an ice cream shop you don’t normally frequent, or something as big as seeing an IDEA House, or bigger - but either way, get out there and do something that your eyes have only ever seen in print, only gazed upon while flipping through the pages of a book or magazine. Get out there and feast your eyes on something beautiful - in real life. ~
**Editorial Note: All photos in this article are by Christine Pieper (Christine’s Floridian Dreams) and by Bryan Pieper (BEPREADY).
Within “The Beaches” area, as it's commonly known to both locals and tourists alike, reside the small towns of Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach - and the town I now call my home - Jacksonville Beach. These three communities, along with a few more small towns, make up the modest coastal barrier island, that is both officially and unofficially, known as San Pablo Island.
San Pablo Island is located just off the eastern coast of Florida, and nestled next to the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. The name of the island itself here is not known to most people… they tend to simply call home - The Beaches. And there’s yet even one other mysterious nickname given to our island home appropriately classifying it as ‘No-Name Island’ - very much reminding me of the funky, quirky, and strange and sometimes hilarious, names of some of the famous Key islands to our south.
But San Pablo Island has a rich and dated history going back hundreds of years, and even much, much longer. A vibrant Native American history lives and breathes here, and the Timucuan Indians lived here in the 1500’s, when a French explorer came upon the area. We now have the Timucuan Reserve named after them.
And while there’s a small and extremely old, weathered and worn, and really just a completely dilapidated sign welcoming you as much as you drive through our town - ‘You Are Now At San Pablo Beach’ it reads, (named after the San Pablo River)... I can only imagine how old that sign really is. And as the sign is so very old and worn, it seems to just camouflage itself to the natural grasses surrounding it. Many pass by daily not even seeing it.
We also locally have San Pablo Road, just off the Island and paralleling the intracoastal, and we have Pablo Avenue, right here at the beach.
A lot goes into a name… when you consider branding, logo, tourism, marketing, publicity, hotels and restaurants and newspapers and any press; history, town pride, changing times and culture, refrigerator magnets, tee-shirts, trinkets and treasures for visitors to take home, etc. Some years ago there was a push and really quite a major effort to help rebrand our area to more “officially” be called San Pablo Island. Hotels and the tourism industry in general liked the idea and I believe they still do. A name helps classify a location and familiarize those traversing to or through. A name slightly broad and confusing as “The Beaches” - plural - is not very brand-worthy it seems, except to those who already know the area and/or reside here.
And as those things tend to do, the effort and move to name-change seemed to stall, and fall apart in meetings and such. As many of those such changes and requests for changes tend to die out... Thus, today, we are still known as “The Beaches” to most, and confusion reigns for the tourism industry here.
In comparison, Amelia Island, located just to the north of us, is known as that - ‘Amelia Island.’ They seem to know their history, are ok with picking a name and staying with it, and they honor it well.
Princess Amelia, daughter of George II of Great Britain, is for whom the Island is named. But Amelia Island has a very rich and fascinating history as well, and they seem to be slightly more proud of it and they do a great job in educating the public of that history.
You absolutely cannot visit Amelia Island without learning upon arrival of the history of the eight flags. Signs will tell you as much and show you as much upon entry to the island. With my father being a huge history buff, I remember thinking at the time of learning about the eight flags that he would find it fascinating.
Amelia Island is famously known as “The Isle of Eight Flags” and is the only location in all of the United States with such a unique history. It simply means that the island has had power transferred through eight different flags before finally obtaining its current and official status as part of these United States. The history of the eight flags is known and proud on the island. When I first found that piece of information out I was utterly fascinated. And standing in great contrast is the tiny old and worn sign welcoming you to San Pablo Beach, here on San Pablo Island. It’s a welcome sign that really seems to get no care or concern, but it does its job every day and welcomes you to our island.
Pablo Avenue lies just a few blocks from our worn and ancient welcome sign, and its therein that lies The Beaches Museum. A Museum that celebrates Culture, History, and Community. And while our dated welcome sign doesn’t have much appeal, the Beaches Museum does. The history of this area is not very well-known to most, and this museum does an absolutely fabulous job of educating the public on our heritage and historical facts thereof. This historical marker and living piece of history is also a place most people drive past every day, and may not even know if its existence. In fact, I’ve lived right here in town just alongside it and had never visited it formally. Well, bring an Art Fest into town and I’ll go anywhere.
Hurray! Another Art Fest. And on yet another absolutely gorgeous autumn day in the South. All the variety of arts and celebration thereof here is actually one of the reasons I fell in love with Jax Beach.
This past weekend, The Beaches Museum hosted the 6th Annual Beaches Art Fest. It was a must-do for me. And while I had just recently attended the Jax Beach Vintage Flea Market some weeks ago, I had eagerly awaited this event all year as well.
This fest to me, supersedes any other fest around. The art on display is full of passion and color and depth. Every booth has the artist directly on hand to talk with as well which I especially love. And now, after being to many of these events, I’m recognizing names of artists that continue to come back and sell there each year.
I really enjoy how merely slowing strolling from one covered outdoor exhibit to the next that the eye immediately catches the difference in an artist's passion. One may specialize or have a passion for florals, and one may enjoy painting the many unique sunrise and sunsets of the coastal region. One booth was composed of entirely Japanese floral paintings. An artist may have blown glass, and one of the final tents I arrived at had on display works of art made entirely from origami paper. There were necklaces all beautifully arranged with tiny and intricately folded colored papers, making flowers, squares, any shape you could imagine, all folded out on her display table. Everyone, who once they understood what they were looking at, was completely wowed by it. It was a definite surprise to see, as I had never seen anything like it in my life, and it is for those reasons I relish with joy attending these fests each time they come around.
And I must admit I regret extremely not purchasing one of her paper origami necklaces. I also failed to obtain her card, thus, not being able to look up where she will be next. She explained the necklace I had my eyes on was only $29.00 and comes with a beautiful chain as well. A chain of length that I could custom choose. I walked on by, to think about it, and instead purchased a ring that I absolutely adore, from La Soucique Studio, of the aforementioned Amelia Island. It was $35.00 and I was so very pleased with my purchase. I know I can’t buy everything, and I reminded myself that money doesn’t grow on trees, but I do really very much regret not purchasing one of the origami necklaces. I can only hope to see her again at a future arts event and make that my purchase for the day.
While slowly we strolled both up and down San Pablo Street taking in the fest in its entirety, we also walked on through the property and grounds of Beaches Museum. It’s set up as a small historic village, spanning the length of the blocks next to the fest.
And as I had never been previously, I thought it an ideal day to check it out since we were already present literally at its location. Supposedly the museum is open 10am-4pm every Saturday, with free admission. We were somewhat disappointed to find many locked buildings. All we could do was take a quick peek inside most of the historic sites through windows, while the main building remained open and available to use the restroom facilities for fest-goers. We very much enjoyed walking the grounds though, and it was a most perfect autumn day in Florida to witness the natural beauty surrounding the facilities. The museum is home to parties, weddings, art exhibitions, the annual famous Polar Express, and many other such fun events for both adults and children alike. It seems The Beaches Museum has something going on year-round. I just highly recommend calling ahead to verify if you’d like to see the actual inside of some of the buildings.
It was an altogether ideal day in the South for me. And afterward, we ate breakfast, for lunch, at Beach Diner in Atlantic Beach. Every time I’ve been there the owner comes over to say a sweet hello. A much older man, whom you can tell genuinely loves his customers, stopped to talk with us as we ate our delicious meal. As we were paying up at the cash register on the way out I could see him still going round from table to table, smiling with and high-fiving each person he met. A most lovely Saturday on my very own Island… San Pablo Island. It made me smile as we walked to our car. ~
Sea & Sky Jax - What a fabulous Florida autumn weekend! I knew it was going to be a significantly large event in Jax Beach, with preparations starting weeks in advance here on the First Coast. And with countless banners on every street corner, reminding us of the festivities any which way in town we looked. Then, as the event finally arrived, I realized, and made my own determination and educated guess, that this was the single biggest event I’ve been able to witness since moving here a few years back.
So many people came to The Beaches community to see all the sights that there was off-site parking, and lots of shuttles moving people all around. In fact, even the off-site parking and shuttle service reached their capacity on Saturday. Everyone had to see this event - and it was definitely worth the trek for those who came from far away.
I have never seen the local community or the beach itself this populated, and that includes on various 4th of July festivities. And Jax, Neptune, and Atlantic Beach sure know how to pull off a festive 4th! 1st Street is always closed off on Independence Day, with an unofficial/official bike parade, and various bounce houses, hoses and sprinklers running, coolers full of fun and cold drinks that everyone shares with their neighbors, and front yard parties, galore. And this weekend definitely made me think of the 4th in Jax.
It was the event of events here at the beach, and I’m extremely grateful to have had my very own front seat to all the action - never even having to get in the car once to witness all the excitement. Living in downtown Jax Beach offers many perks, and this was definitely one of the best. And while the show took place both on Saturday and Sunday - living right in the midst of it all offered me a unique perspective.
On Thursday and Friday of this past week, all the various styles of airplanes took many practice runs of the Sky portion of the show. And I must admit that this part of the entire experience was somewhat even more exciting to me than the actual show. I got to see it all, before all the massive crowds of people did… And not knowing what the practice schedule consisted of, I really had no idea what was coming next through the Sky.
Another individual who, for certain, had no idea what was going to happen next, was my dog - Madeline. To her, I think she must have thought that World War III had started and that the literal end of life on Earth had arrived in Jacksonville, Florida. She was absolutely and utterly terrified, and I made the smart decision of keeping her home and inside all weekend. I know we could have had a lost dog if I didn’t do just that.
And at times, the planes roaring through the air at lightning fast speed did sound like it was the end of the world. There were various moments that, due to the cloudy and overcast gray sky, the planes and the smoke they dispersed were camouflaged in to the atmosphere. Add to that, the strange sounds and echoes bouncing off all the buildings as the planes passed overhead, and all this equated to me not knowing where the planes were coming from at any given moment. It definitely was like missiles shooting through the sky. Yes, a war - of pure excitement and thrill - flying overhead.
A mix of some Florida afternoon rain, and then pops of Florida sun - the Blue Angels took to the skies about a half hour late for Saturday’s show. They flew through a massive rainbow shining above the Sea. It was breathtaking to witness, and my iPhone camera would not capture the scene at all, and what it did attempt to capture did not do the rainbow any justice whatsoever. The light and bright and delicate colors floating over the salty water were merely a mirage, and if you blinked, you might miss it.
I’ve never seen more rainbows in my life than I have in the few years I’ve lived here in the land of endless summer - the Sunshine State. And each one is as special as the next; but this rainbow was most stunning and breathtaking with the Blue Angels flying above and through it and coming right at me.
All of the excitement was absolutely and utterly fascinating to watch, and to see it all take place, at home. I could only imagine, myself not knowing too much about these fancy planes at all, what this event means to someone who is in the business, in the military, or flies for hobby etc. And all the little children running around in the sand with their souvenir toy model versions of the Blue Angels, with dreams of piloting these speculator machines when they grow up… young and old alike were equally fascinated by this most exciting of spectacles.
The only thing I know and understand about these planes for certain is that they are awesome. Pure and simple. The entire experience - of witnessing the massive beast of its engine roar, in all its power, flying overhead, in coordination, and so close together it appears from the ground that a mere piece of string could connect the planes quite easily. The dedication, teamwork, the best technology on the planet, all in coordination. All of that at its absolute best, on display for all to see. And it was a free show!
At one point, while my husband was out shooting these photos, he was interviewed by a Youtuber; I found this hilarious. If only we knew, as my hubby of course failed to inquire, which channel interviewed him, I could watch what he said to the internet vlog world about his personal experience with Sea & Sky Jax.
Sadly, Sea & Sky weekend is now over, and won’t be back in Jax Beach for a few more years. The location of this show rotates, and goes to NAS Jax as well.
And now that things are calming down in our household and returning to normal for Madeline and all her fellow dogs in town - she doesn’t quite know or realize that Halloween is next on the agenda this week. It’s a big and chaotic week indeed in the life and mind of a small and sensitive little pooch. But it was a most exciting weekend of weekends for us spectating humans… looking up to the Sky, and out toward the Sea - with our feet in the Sand. ~
[ *Editorial Note: All published photos of Sea & Sky Jax are provided by my hubby - Bryan Pieper of www.BEPREADY.com ]
10/25/2019 0 Comments
Living in Florida, it can be hard to notice the changing of the seasons. I sometimes need to use the drink menu at coffee shops to gauge where we are at on the calendar.
And right now, whether we know it or not, it’s still Autumn.
And besides driving past a set-up pumpkin patch display in front of a local church the other day, the only change I’ve seen in all the weeks since fall has officially started, is with the drink menu offering all those special, seasonal additions at coffee shops and grocery stores. The most famous of those seasonal drinks being, of course, the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, McDonalds, and Dunkin Donuts (Dunkin makes a delicious pumpkin donut by the way).
The only other seasonal change I notice here is specifically in Orlando - where Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party has been taking place at the Magic Kingdom now - since August… Yes - you read that right - August. Visitors dressed in their Halloween costumes, trick-or-treating down the festively decorated Main Street USA, since the middle of our hot and Endless Summer.
Considering I lost massive weight this past year and am extremely interested and determined to maintain that healthy lifestyle, when all the seasonal pumpkin drinks started to appear on the coffee shop menus, I really wanted to know how many calories are floating around inside those highly-flavored drinks. Well, the news is not so good:
***380 calories for a Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks (!)
***310 calories for a medium Pumpkin Spice Latte at McDonald’s (!)
***420 calories for a medium whole milk Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Signature Latte at Dunkin Donuts (!!!)
The amount of calories in just a single one of those drinks is now an entire meals worth of calories for me. I absolutely cannot even imagine drinking that much sweetness at once anymore. So, to help me maintain weight loss, I have been sticking with my usual unsweetened iced tea, or plain, black coffee this season.
It took me a little while, over a year ago now, but I am very used to ‘plain’ drinks now. Just the thought of ordering one of those lattes makes my stomach turn around. It’s definitely a good thing for my overall health that I don’t even really want or desire those drinks anymore, and I have also learned and acquired a few other wonderful and simple ways of feeling and enjoying the scents of fall without all the extra calories that can go along with it.
Below I’ll explain a variety of ways I’m acknowledging and enjoying the change of season while watching my calorie intake. These are just a few simple ways I am enjoying all that the Autumn season has to offer, without gaining weight, maintaining my weight loss, and not overindulging at all.
Specifically, here are six simple ways I’m enjoying Autumn 2019:
Yes, they come first! Because as they say - candles set the mood. And indeed they do. I went out and purchased a few pumpkin scented candles (room sprays work well for this too) and the scent in my home reminds me of all at fall has to offer. I think of hay rides, picking pumpkins, carving those pumpkins, and the scent of homemade pumpkin pie. And the bonus is that breathing in that heavenly scent doesn’t put one extra calorie into my mouth!
And since I’ve personally been staying away from Bath & Body Works for a few years now, I shopped around for the best autumn scented candles I could find. I enjoyed browsing around my local Pier 1, admiring all the adorable seasonal decor. And I purchased two three-wick pumpkin spice candles on sale for ten dollars each. I thought that was a reasonable price and keeps me away from Bath & Body Works where I used to spend too much money. And because I love candles so much, we picked out some autumn-scented candles at Target as well.
2 ~ I Avoid ALL The Seasonal Drinks - ALL THE TIME
This one is a no-brainer for me. For me - myself - and I - I’ve personally been staying absolutely away from all those high-calorie drinks that happen to be advertised everywhere I look.
I stick with my usual drink order. I do NOT indulge in drinks that have calories attached. My usuals are plain water, water with lemon or lime, always ice cold; plus, plain hot coffee, and hot or iced tea. Club soda or sparkling water. Period. Zero calories drinks. I do not indulge in that department. It works for me. It’s become a lifestyle for me and once something is lifestyle it’s easier to maintain. I do recommend trying it out.
Plus, in place of all those high calorie drinks, I purchased myself an Alex & Ani ‘Pumpkin Spice’ spice bracelet that I’ve had my eye on since last autumn - and I wear it every day. I enjoy IT - and not the extra calories it implies.
3 ~ Get A Real Pumpkin
So simple, right? By purchasing a real pumpkin, which can go for under ten dollars, and small ones, just a couple dollars at the grocery store, you get to enjoy the purest symbol of autumn, every single day. And if you get yours by visiting a pumpkin patch, all the better!
And, pumpkins always look fabulous sitting on the front porch, balcony, or lounging in front of a fireplace mantel.
Plus, you can turn the pumpkin into a project by then painting it or carving it out.
4 ~ Bake Pumpkin Seeds At Home
After we purchase our chosen pumpkin and enjoy the sight of it, on Halloween we carve the pumpkin and scoop it out. Then we bake the seeds in the oven. I always enjoy the scent that is released when carving open the pumpkin… Always so fresh, and smells like a pumpkin patch.
I first clean and rinse the seeds, then lay them on a baking sheet on top of non-stick foil with some sea salt sprinkled on top, and bake the pumpkin seeds in the oven. After they are finished being toasted, the seeds have a taste that cannot be replicated by any store-bought seeds. There is always something most refreshing about toasting the seeds on my own. It tastes better, fresher, and it really is. Plus, pumpkin seeds are one of those autumn delights that are very healthy! No weight gain on this one - in fact, eating nuts and seeds is a fantastic way of maintaining my weight loss.
5 ~ Eat the Seasonal Chicken Pot Pie - Just NOT The One Costco Sells
With fall comes an abundance of warm and seasonal recipes, like chili… and chicken pot pie. Every autumn I used to look forward to the seasonal changes at Costco by picking up one of their chicken pot pies. We would cook it for dinner and use the leftovers for lunches and dinners throughout the week. But most store-bought chicken pot pies, including Costco’s extremely large pie, are loaded with tons of calories that I do not need or intake anymore after weight loss. The chicken may be healthy, the veggies inside the pie may also be healthy - but the rest of that pie is definitely NOT healthy. And at 525 calories per ⅙ slice, the pie is extremely high in calories.
So, I’ve decided that with fall, I can still enjoy the seasonal meal of chicken pot pie. I’m just NOT purchasing the Costco version. I don’t need to give up the food. I just need to enjoy it in a more healthy manner. I’m also staying away from the easy-bake Marie Callender's version - which has a whopping 600 calories - in the smaller version!
Instead, on a busy week, we now grab Blake’s Pot Pie. It’s in the freezer section, has 370 calories per pie, and tastes just as good as any other store-bought version. I serve it with a side of steamed green beans, and an easy, healthy, and low-calorie dinner is ready in a flash.
I haven’t had the time this season to make a healthy and homemade version though, so if you have a chicken pot pie recipe that you make I’d absolutely love for you to share it with me in the comments below - please!
6 ~ Indulge - Without Overindulging
Yes, I still eat the pie. I just don’t eat ALL the pie. We bought a pumpkin pie two times this season from the local Winn Dixie. I can enjoy a slice, or two, even including whip cream on the side. But I don’t eat pie all the time, and don’t worry at all if we don’t finish the whole pie before it goes bad. And yes, I absolutely have thrown out the leftover pie, and more than once. I’m not ashamed.
I try not to waste food, but a part of weight loss and weight maintenance is knowing that some food WILL GO TO WASTE. I freeze what I can, I portion out for other meals what I can, I plan ahead like crazy. But there are still some times that food will be thrown away. And part of this pumpkin pie that we purchased did make it to the garbage can. Without my feeling any guilt or feeling bad that food was wasted. If you are looking to lose weight, or to maintain massive weight loss like I am maintaining, you will likely run into having to throw some food away. I have accepted this and do the very best I can not to, but with treats it does happen.
I have learned how to indulge - without overindulging. That means some food waste, some times. Part of my weight loss is allowing myself to continue to have all the treats that I love. In moderation. How can I let autumn pass me by without a piece or two of pumpkin pie? I can’t. I have to be able to eat the “normal” seasonal foods that I love without overindulging. Without - missing out. As they say, yes - everything in moderation.
Although, as I mentioned above, I do not drink all the fancy and high-calorie coffee drinks anymore. The difference there is lifestyle. I have removed any and all high calorie drinks from my entire lifestyle. So I am used to not having them anymore. To the point that the thought makes me ill just thinking about having one of them. I have very successfully removed those drinks from my life. That’s a choice I made. But I love desserts and treats too much to give them up entirely. I WILL continue to eat desserts - a choice by me to keep them IN my lifestyle. Desserts and treats remain. Which is why I moderate, and why I still eat pumpkin pie, and why I am ok with and understand that some of that dessert will end up in the garbage.
And yes, as the saying goes... “Better in the trash, than sitting on my *ss.”
Here are a few other ways I’m enjoying the season…
So even though I don’t drink all those amazingly fun and delicious autumn-themed drinks anymore, I do watch for their arrival onto the menu each autumn as a way to gauge what season I am currently living in. And then, I go about my usual routine. Adding in the flavors of fall in a very healthy, and very sustainable way. ~
Yes! Autumn is here! I wouldn’t really know it by glancing at the environment around me though. The seasonal changes I’m surrounded by are very difficult to notice within my natural environment. It does not cool down outside - I don’t bring out my favorite warm blankets from the back of the linen closet. I don’t unload my bin of clothing for colder weather; in fact, no such bin exists in my closet anymore. And I haven’t ordered any pumpkin spice lattes yet this season either. I’m just waiting for even one slightly ‘cool’ day to order a hot drink; for now I’m sticking with my usual iced tea.
When I first moved down here a few years ago in the springtime, I was very curious about how I would witness the seasons changing in Florida compared to experiencing four very real and legitimate seasonal changes that take place annually in Illinois. That first spring here was heaven on Earth. Sunny every day - perfect weather - blue sky. I was outside all the time. The funny thing was that everyone, and I mean everyone I met during that first season here said that they hoped the weather would improve for us to enjoy it. I was sooooo very and desperately confused. Here I was in perfect weather - it was still snowing in Illinois. I really didn’t know what these people all meant??? It took time for me to understand. Time, and experiencing the seasonal changes for myself. What was there to improve? The weather was literally perfect!
It was then that I learned about Florida cold fronts. If it was a nice 85 or let’s say 86 degrees outside, and then a cold front came through, dropping the average weekly temperature to a very low and very cold 83 degrees, everyone hoped for a warm front. Everyone spoke of the cold front. Everyone talked about hoping the weather would improve. When will the weather improve? That’s exactly what was happening during my first season here, it was a perfect and ideal temperature, calm weather. But maybe it was 83, instead of the more ideal 85? It was enough for me to be drinking coffee outside, when in Illinois I still would have been wearing winter clothes. But to Floridians, it was cold out.
After three years, if the wind is blowing just right I too get cold now sometimes when the dashboard reads 85 degrees... and I laugh every time… Never thought it would happen to me. I’m truly acclimated to the Floridian climate, and it happened quite fast too. So during that first year living through fantastic and then even more fantastic weather, the seasons blew in and out barely even with me noticing a change.
So how does one mark all the seasonal changes in a place where the weather stays practically perfect in every way, year round? The seasons were always tied to weather for me in the past; now, I relate seasons to the events themselves that take place during and within a season.
I learned real quick that if I wanted to enjoy fall in the Sunshine State, the best way for me to acknowledge such a seasonal change living in my new home was to put out a pumpkin scented candle… and maybe some autumn themed dish towels placed strategically in the kitchen. That way, every day when I walk in the kitchen, I look at a pumpkin towel and say to myself, oh yeah, that’s right, it’s Fall. Other than that, I could still drink my coffee outside, swim in the ocean, and drive with the windows rolled down, even though the autumnal equinox could be long since passed.
Maybe I could change the color or style of my swimsuit instead of getting out some autumn sweaters? Should I change the color of my purse, or the style of wreath hung upon my front door? Some or all of the above do help the transition. Today I put out my favorite ceramic white and orange pumpkin candle holders on my kitchen table. I even purchased a burnt orange tank top to wear this season instead of buying a burnt orange sweater.
Back in Illinois I thoroughly enjoyed the changing color of the leaves and then the falling leaves later in the season. I loved fall. Sometimes I thought it was my favorite season? I embraced the warmer days and cooler evenings. Evenings cool enough at the beginning of autumn to leave the window open at night. But later in the season the windows were closed, and then remained tightly shut for the remainder of fall and winter. And every year, usual mid-to-late fall, there reached a point where it always became officially much too cold in the house. And then, just like clockwork, the annual debate began of discussing how long can we last until we turn on the heat for the first time that season. It was a running joke, how cold can we sleep at night? At what point before it becomes unbearable and much too cold in the house to focus on anything else but how cold it is? I’d pull out layers upon layers of blankets to place upon the bed to help prolong our time in a house without the heat running. And we tried to function in the house during the day. It was a test of will, and stubbornness. I would not want to give in first. Like a child trying not to blink in a staring contest, sitting across from my friendly opponent, who is also trying desperately not to blink. Who will blink, my husband or me? Which one of us will be the one to turn the heat on? Who will break first? Usually my stubbornness would win out and my husband would be the one switching the heat to ON. His excuse would be that he wouldn’t want the pipes to start freezing. And that is exactly where my love of all things fall end. And I’d think to myself, is fall really my favorite season? Forget the cold, I’ll take the Florida sun any day.
I recently heard someone say that Florida is ‘Bizzaro World.’ And that only in Florida do we celebrate Halloween in August (at Walt Disney World). And that as fall comes round every year how else would we even know that autumn has even arrived unless we ‘force the sh*t out of fall’... I laughed hysterically and could not agree more with that statement. Maybe fall still is my favorite?...
So, in honor of acknowledging and celebrating the changing of the seasons, I’m ‘forcing the sh*t out of fall’ today with my pumpkin decor and pumpkin scented candles. I even hung an autumn themed dish towel in the kitchen. There - I’ve done it. Box checked. Season changed; season acknowledged. Time for people to keep on swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, and soaking in that sun. Enjoy the morning coffee outside on the front porch, eat dinner outside at the local fish camp, watch the turtles, gators, and snakes enjoy their natural surroundings. The globe will keep spinning and rotating onward. And we can all acknowledge and celebrate its angle of rotation once again during the winter equinox come December, on the beach, maybe with a peppermint latte sitting next to me in the sand. ~~~
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