Friday, June 30, 2017

The Day Before the Moving Truck Arrives

Waiting and watching out the front windows
You know it's a slow afternoon when we've stationed our only furniture in front of the windows to watch for the trash trucks!

Today is trash pick-up day. Since we have not been in  our house for a week yet (and the furniture doesn't come until tomorrow), we are still learning "how things are done" in our new neighborhood.

At The Brown Bungalow in Colorado, our Home Owner's Association was very particular about exactly where to position the trash and recycle cans. They had to be in the gutter, facing out. You could get a nasty-gram from them if you put them on the sidewalk.

Putting them in the gutter makes it easier for the armature of the trucks to reach out, grab the cans, dump them, and then return them to the pavement.

We are seeing the cans here on both the sidewalks and in the gutters. So we are a little nervous about the expectations.

The neighbors here began putting their cans out last night, so we first wondered just how early do these guys show up on Friday mornings? When we locked up and headed for our hotel last night, the cans were inside the garage. 

our temporary home
This morning just after 5am, we heard the trash truck emptying the hotel's garbage outside our windows. I began to worry that we might miss the truck when it comes to our neighborhood because Beloved insisted we leave them in the garage overnight.

In my most sweet, persuasive manner, I suggested we get up and go to the house in that predawn hour to set out our trash. 

"We need to get up and get the trash out!" 

There was a groan on the other side of the bed, but cooperation was granted and we were in the car by 5:35. 

So now it's after 4pm and we are sitting in the living room, waiting to see how it's done. Beloved may even walk out to the street when they show up to ask if there is a preference by the workmen for the cans' placement.


note the green trash cans in our driveway and up the street in front of us

Actually, it's only been the last hour or so that's been slow here. This has been a very productive day.  The electricians came on time this morning and ended up doing so much more than the original work order for additional outlets.

My pink sticky notes are telling me where to put things
as they are unpacked.

They put in under-the-cabinet lighting that Beloved was going to purchase and do himself. As we talked with them about that, we realized they could do it for us and they even had the necessary parts with them. We decided to ask if they would and they did! This photo (above) is just one of the three sections they lit  up for us. I love it and Beloved is vastly relieved he doesn't have to lay down on the kitchen countertops to do it himself. (Our son helped us do it in the last house but he doesn't live close by anymore.)

So we got that done. Then we had that marriage-enriching experience of hanging towel racks. 

towel ring in one of our guest rooms

We have to laugh every time we see that commercial on TV where the couple is hanging drapes together when "the moment turns romantic." I will not get any more graphic than that except to say Beloved and I don't find such projects "romantic." That applies to hanging towel racks, too.

Towel rack in the grandsons' guest room (aka "the boys' dorm")
We have 6 grandsons and 5 granddaughters.
The last project of the day was to put up hooks in the pantry for our aprons. 

adding an apron hook to the pantry

And yes indeedy, I do appreciate all the nifty things Beloved does for me all through the house.

This may have been a pretty ho-hum read for my fans today, but I promised to share the ins and outs of this moving adventure, so this is it. We greatly anticipate the arrival of our moving trucks tomorrow. The pace will pick up considerably after that, so I may not be writing much of anything for a few days or longer.

But I'll be back!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Trees, Garage, a Dog, and Supper

the dense forest behind our house, just steps from the patio
Those who have followed my blog from the days of "The Brown Bungalow" to the current "Sweet Tea and Sandals" know how much I love the Rocky Mountains that Beloved and I have called "home" for most of the 46 years of our marriage. 

However, now that we have been transported to the East Coast (as of just last week!), the Atlantic Ocean, the St. Johns River, and the forest in our very own back yard have me transfixed. 

Just this evening as we enjoyed our second home-cooked meal in our as-yet-unfurnished house, we could see the rays of the setting sun streaming through the tree branches. 

A similar sight brought me to literal tears many years ago when we had just moved to Seattle and had nothing but rain for days on end. One morning the sun hit the dining room wall, again filtered through a forest in our back yard. 

Truly, the Lord has created light for our joy and illumination, as so many Bible verses teach. 

The LORD is my light and
my salvation --
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold 
of my life --
of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

Today I discovered the name of an ornamental tree in our back yard that stands beautifully near the Magnolia tree:

Callistemon Bottlebrush as seen from our patio
and up close
These trees are everywhere in town, very distinctive with their "bottle brush" flowers. I did a little reading up on them and learned they are low-maintenance and very content with the climate in Jacksonville. (hooray!!!)

In all of the houses Beloved and I have bought and sold over the years, over half of them have been "new builds," which meant that after the builder's basic landscaping package was put in, the rest was up to us.  I love it that this time the previous owners have done all the planting for us and everything is beautifully mature (and well planned out!).
* * * * *
As for today, the painter finished up in the garage. Yesterday he and his assistant put two coats of white paint on the garage ceiling and walls, and cleaned up the floor in preparation for today.

the garage at Magnolia Place
Today they stained (not painted) the garage floor a light gray. We are to refrain from putting the car in the garage until Friday so it can completely dry in this humid climate. Beloved had this done in the garage at The Brown Bungalow, too. It goes a long way to making a garage look neat and tidy -- something Beloved loves to maintain (and I am so glad he does!!). 

By the way, we have been told to use stain on the garage floor, not paint. Paint makes the floor VERY slippery when it gets wet. Stain does not.

the Butler's pantry
In yesterday's post I mentioned the Butler's pantry but did not show a picture of it. This is like a short hallway that connects the living/dining room area to the kitchen. Beloved will keep his Keurig coffee maker in there. He needed a small, countertop trash can for his empty K-cups. We have searched high and low for a specific style of trash receptacle we had in mind. After seeing our defeat in that, we opted for a cookie jar instead!

Find him at Walmart for $12.72

Charlie the Basset Hound (made famous by Food Network's Pioneer Woman) is a cookie jar we found at Walmart this afternoon. He is soo cute!!!

You may know that Rea Drummond's Basset Hound, Charlie, was made famous on her Food Network show, and she wrote at least one book about him.  Sadly, he died a few months ago. But he lives on in our hearts.  To read his story, click here.

We are dog people here, although the only canines we have now are 3 grand-puppies that we hope will come with their people on visits! We had a Basset Hound named Elmer years ago, and Sister has had 15 Basset Hounds over the years.

that fancy red sauce is Heinz Ketchup

The last thing I wanted to share with you in tonight's post is what we had for supper this evening, again, working with minimal tools in my new kitchen. The menu was a hearty green salad (always! around here), which only requires a cutting board and a good knife. 

We also had caramelized onions prepared in the only pan I brought in the car, pre-cooked steak and chicken strips from the frozen foods aisle of Publix, and French Fries made with my new toy:
purchased at Walmart for $17.99
Cooking with these copper colored pans is all the rage right now. I bought this sheet pan with basket yesterday and tried it out this evening. There are no cooking instructions with it, but all I did was to slice baking potatoes into a uniform size (for even cooking) and baked them for 45 minutes at 400 degrees F. 

The box says no oil is needed, so I would equate the outcome of these fries to air-popped popcorn. Healthier but lacking the flavor oil adds. After they came out of the oven, I sprayed them with Pam cooking spray to help the salt and pepper adhere to the fries better. That helped. 

By the way, I was just guessing on the time and temperature. The next time I'll probably bake them another 5 or 10 minutes to make them just a bit more tender. But Beloved said these were fine as they were.

We've got 3 more nights to sleep in this hotel and then our moving truck is scheduled to unload all the furniture. Can't wait!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Our House is a Very Very Very Fine House

our new home!

For years I've sung the words to the song by Crosby Stills Nash and Young -- wrong! "Our house is a very very very fine house, with 2 dogs in the yard ..." The real words are "with 2 cats in the yard."   

Oh well!

On Sunday night we had a very hard, torrential rain storm with loud thunder and a lot of lightening.  Then on Monday we signed the closing papers on our new house in The Land of Flip Flops. All is well but the day was not without excitement. I'll give you Beloved's version of how it went:

"Some drama prior to our successful closing on the house. Last night the lightning took out the phones at the title company. When calling the title company this morning for the wire transfer instructions and closing amount - we kept getting the message that the number had been disconnected! What!

Well, after our realtor went over there and verified the title people were still in business everything went well. We are no longer homeless - and also no longer debt free."

a very hard rain on the forest in our back yard

Our shipment of household goods is expected to be delivered later this week, but I think you've waited long enough to see the inside of our new home. Today I am sharing photos we took in April when we put the offer on the house. The furnishings were staged by the listing agent.

Entry hall wall niche
The entry hall is small and hard to photograph, but here is a wonderful feature it has, a cut-out niche in a curved wall leading to the living/dining room.

living room

The living and dining rooms are a large single room lacking clear definition of the two areas but our furniture will do that for us.

view from the living/dining room toward the back of the house
There is a butler's pantry leading to the kitchen, with a food closet on one side and cabinetry with a granite counter top on the opposite side (not visible in this picture).

You can't really see it in the above photo, but the wall behind the blue chair is curved. There are several rounded walls throughout the house that compliment the rounded doorways.

the family room
The family room is open to the kitchen and the breakfast nook area,  has access to the master suite, features the stairs to 4 large bedrooms plus a bonus room, leads to the laundry room, and also features a beautiful view of the forested back yard.

Today we spent about eleven hours at the new house while people came to install the Internet and cable connections, the security system, and to paint the garage walls and ceiling. 

I shopped for groceries and at day's end we had our first supper in our new home!

Salad greens with fajita steak, cheese, tomatoes, sweet peppers, black beans,
toasted corn tortilla  strips, and bottled salad dressing of choice
Yes, it was served on paper plates balanced on our knees from lawn chairs and our new TV sitting on the floor... we made a wonderful memory.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Navigating the City

We spent the weekend learning how to get around our new hometown. Kudos in abundance to our iPhone map app. Without it we would probably be struggling with a wadded up and torn street map, our nerves stretched and frayed. Two of the most difficult things to get used to during a move are:

1) navigating the new city
2) finding anything in the new grocery store

But, with the map app and close attention to aisle directories in stores, we are figuring it out.

Palm trees are everywhere. They are a staple in The Land of Flip Flops. Everywhere we go, the landscapes are beautifully tropical. I love it. 

My readers may not know that I spent eight of my girlhood years growing up in Southern California. That was a very long time ago, but being in Florida brings back memories of coastal flora and fauna.

After we spent two days locating and driving to the necessities of life (grocery store, bank, churches, the Apple store, the malls, Sam's Club, and of course, Walmart), we took time off for fun with a trip to Amelia Island, which is less than an hour from our new neighborhood (depending on the traffic). 

Amelia Island looks to me like the perfect setting for a romance novel in a hammock and a glass of sweet tea.  I must add that to my "to do" list.

When I snapped this picture, I was trying to capture the sea oats waving in the wind on the horizon, but you can hardly see them. Imagine them in your mind's eye, okay? Just beyond them are the sand and surf of Fernandina Beach. Walk with me. You'll see them next.

Beloved is testing the capabilities of his water-proof sandals. We have "Tivas" packed with our household goods, so for today this had to do. ("Tivas" are sandals made to wear in the surf. There are many variations of footwear for the tender-footed on beaches.)

Keep in mind, of course, that we Coloradans have pasty-white legs and sock lines but that will all get better with time. One doesn't fully transition from mile-high mountain living to sea level in just a few days.

Once again, we just have to laugh at ourselves as we explore this new climate and way of doing things. I'm sure we will be perceived by the natives as fuddy-duddies! But that's okay. We'll figure it out.

With numerous skin-cancer episodes and scary changes in our body profiles, we are not beach people any more, but we do enjoy seeing the waves, feeling the sand, collecting sea shells and exploring piers. 

And the sea food. I look forward to more of that. Beloved, not so much (he's a dedicated beef and pork man).

The late afternoon sun glistened on the water as we made our way back to our hotel on a different route from what we took to get to the island.

My fascination with the many bridges continues. I posted an Internet photo of this bridge in my last post. This picture is one I took yesterday as we actually drove it.

Those dark clouds in the background -- they brought us incredibly hard rain, thunder and lightening around bed time. I love the tropical storms when I am safe indoors where it is dry. They are very exciting! (I have said the same thing about snow blizzards in the past)

Well, I'll close this out now. We expect to get the keys to our new home later today. Playtime will be over as we welcome a painter, an electrician, the Comcast installer, the land line phone person, and others to help us set up normal routines. Furniture should arrive the end of this week along with all those boxes!

Friday, June 23, 2017

We Are Here!

Spanish moss blows in the breeze in Tallahassee

As they say, "wherever you go, there you are."  And we are here! We are in The Land of Flip Flops after a week on the road (5 days of driving plus time off-road to visit family and friends in 3 different locations). While a quick air flight might have been nice, I think taking a week to get here helps us to physically and mentally weather the transition a little better. This is a huge change, after all.

Shortly after we drove into our new home state, our car was nearly running on fumes, so we stopped at the first gas station we could find in a tiny little town off of Interstate 10. This is a sign they had in their window:

sign in gas station window
Hmm. This doesn't represent the level of sophistication I prefer, but it did put a smile on my face. We are truly in the South now and I am so glad.

Today we moved into the Eastern Time Zone. We stopped for a late lunch around 2pm at The Cracker Barrel. I had my usual plate of trout with fried apples and cooked carrots. 

the St. Johns River

A couple of hours later we rolled into our new home town, which included a long drive over the St. Johns River. 

driving the Buckman bridge over the St. Johns River
Now when some of our grandchildren come to see us, they can sing, "Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go...." but they get to skip the parts about riding in a sleigh, etc. heh heh heh!

the bridge rises in the middle to about 65 feet above the water for boats to go under

The Buckman bridge is one of eight major bridges over the St. Johns River in Jacksonville. Beloved clocked it as we crossed today and then I checked his calculation with the Internet. Both agreed that it is just over 3 miles in length. 

I find this to be very exciting! If we can't live near the Rocky Mountains, then living close to huge bodies of water with interesting bridges is an acceptable substitute.

photo from the Internet
I expect to learn more about all of the bridges in time to come. The Dames Point Bridge is probably the most fascinating.

Anyway, we checked into our hotel, unpacked (we'll be here for several days while things get taken care of at the new house), and then drove past the house. The sellers have removed the furniture they used to stage it for selling, and have just today cut the grass. Everything appears to be in order for our closing early next week.

We ate dinner and then stopped at Publix to buy fresh produce for my Vitamix (which has been packed in the car for the past week), and ice cream.

While visiting with Beloved's cousins last night in Alabama, they sent us off with wonderful fresh peaches from their area. We sliced them up this evening and enjoyed them with Beloved's Ben and Jerry's Truffle Kerfuffle, and my [non-dairy] So Delicious Coconut Milk 'ice cream.' (you should try it; it's great!)

celebratory dessert
So, we are here, finally. It is a blessed day for us!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eye Candy at Opryland

inside the Gaylord Opry

We drove today from Paducah, Kentucky to Birmingham, Alabama, making a lunch stop at the Gaylord Opry in Nashville. The rain related to Hurricane Cindy (now Tropical Depression Cindy) stayed with us the entire time.

Beloved takes a snapshot of a floral gazebo
We stopped here for brunch twenty-two years ago, when we were moving to Orlando. Some things have changed since then, including the parking. It used to be free, we are pretty sure. Now each car is charged $29 just to park.

Look closely to see a boat on the canal inside the building
However, it you are willing to pay that fee (and we were), the benefits are worth it.

Beloved's Turkey Bacon Club sandwich with potato salad
That parking fee does not include the price for lunch, but there are many options for dining once inside the complex.

my vegetarian quinoa veggie salad
We enjoyed sitting among the trees for our lunch, looking up at the balconies of the many, many hotel rooms.

the restaurant where we dined
In addition to the choices for food, there were gift shops. With the driving rain outside, I decided it was a good day for me to buy a hat!

me with my new ball cap

There were so many things to see -- all beautiful and tastefully displayed.

the revolving door to the outside included
a watering can full of flowers that also revolved

a glass display in the main entrance on the Cascade wing
This stunningly beautiful glass sculpture was made by Ludek Hroch in 2010. It is titled, "Resurgence."

the dining room in the Cascade wing

another awesome view of the Cascades American Cafe

By the time we were ready to return to our car, we hoped the rain had stopped. Oh, far from it! We had no choice but to hold our umbrellas close and walk through running water across the parking lot. I was glad to be wearing my waterproof hiking sandals!

After arriving in Birmingham, Alabama for the night, we met up with two of Beloved's cousins for dinner and learned a tornado had done serious damage in another part of the city during the afternoon. We are thankful for the Lord's protection of us on the roads during this long trip and through this harsh tropical weather.

Tomorrow is our last day on the road -- we will arrive in our new hometown in The Land of Flip Flops!