Tuesday, April 15, 2014

St. Augustine: Blue Dogs Fly at Midnight, Love the beach, Watch Baseball and Make Cakes. {Oh, yeah and they stay up PAST midnight.}

Denise, my dear friend, has had a lot of good ideas over her lifetime -- some of which I have benefited personally-- but the one she had back in early March might have been one of the best.  Through crazy but really cool circumstances, her family and my brother own beach houses next to each other in St. Augustine, Florida.  Never in a gazillion years would I have ever dreamed that Blake and Adele would own a beach house, you know, by the ocean where the sun shines a lot and it’s hot often and there are no shade trees and there is sand and stuff, but hey, wonkier things have happened.  Not many, but a few.  My nephew’s college baseball team was playing a 3 game series at Flagler which is in St. Augustine and everyone was coming from Soperton to watch him play.  She suggested I surprise Blake and RJ, my nephew. And because I am my parent’s favorite child, they got me and the kids there.

Denise and her husband, John, were to meet Blake and Adele at Palm Valley Fish Camp and so while we hid in the bushes, Julia and Brighton sat on the bench in front.  Blake is still a little stunned in this picture but the first word I heard him say was, “DUDE!”  and then, “What are you doing here?!”  I think Adele had a silent panic wondering where in the world she was going to sleep THREE MORE people but we already had all that worked out.  It was great fun catching him off guard and the food was, well, I had mahi mahi over stone ground grits.  Really. Yummy.

The next morning we went to see some sights in St. Augustine, the oldest city in America-- you know, Ponce de Leon, the Fountain of Youth-- dig back into your elementary days studying explorers.  The original fort still stands strong by the Atlantic ocean and the historic city is just beautiful.

We had our first gourmet popsicles with “Aunt Denise”.  Hyppo popsicles.

And found way more things the kids wanted to buy than the money they had.  It was amazing the “deals” the storekeepers would give my children as Denise filled the owner's hands with money when the kids weren’t looking.  Seriously.  If I’ve heard B say, “THAT MAN WAS SOOOOOO NICE!!!!” once,  I’ve heard it twenty.
Here he is in a tricorn hat but what he really wanted here was a chain mail head dress.  He said he’d “wear it all the time”.

Then we landed here in the vintage dress shop.

The owner enjoyed giving Julia all the accessories to try on with the dresses.

Definitely in her element

Next stop- gourmet popcorn- like none I had ever seen or tasted.  The word “gourmet” was not used loosely here- like on fund raising packages!

If you don’t know Spanish Moss, now you do.

Then we had about an hour to run down to the beach before meeting everyone for dinner.

Both sporting our Longhorns-- and neither of us are really huge fans.  One man, after seeing my hat, said he saw I had already been to the outlet stores.  {the only place that would sell such a hat?}

Searching for shark’s teeth with Denise.  We wound up finding so many, it made me a little uncomfortable sticking my toes in the water!

The beach there has sand but it’s also covered with “coquina” which is fragments of shells and other sea finds.  Julia enjoyed throwing it and watching it shimmer in the sun.

And it was NO JOKE getting it OFF your person. 

Simple moments like these make me grateful to be able to see my family and friends if just for 3 days.

My sweet Mom and lovely niece, Hunter 

The college girls, baseball followers, sampling the cake the Denise taught Julia to make-- more on that in just a minute.

John showing B the amazing “pull our thumb off” trick…. I so enjoyed watching John bug my kids.  They LOVED it.

We surprised RJ right before the game.  The kids asked for him at the dugout.  He was NOT expecting them to be standing there.

Brighton chased foul balls for 3 days.  Anytime I lost track of him, I’d just wait until the next foul ball and then I’d see him running.  I lost count on how many he retrieved but he got to keep one of them and he wanted it signed-- and also his hat.  The players were happy to indulge him.  He didn’t sleep much that night.

More beach time before game #2

Looking for more shark’s teeth

There were activities for kids all 3 games and this boy won almost everything.  Here he is with his first  chocolate bunny-- all of them turned into chocolate syrup on the sunny day.

The next few pictures are of what Denise and Julia did during game #2-- she taught Julia how to make THE 12 Layer Chocolate Cake.  I’ve been eating Denise’s for many years and she even tried to teach me once.  Denise documented the whole lesson with pictures and videos because she didn’t think we’d believe her when she said that Julia “did it all by herself”.


Spreading batter thin 

This was the part I remember being so nervous about-- getting out those THIN layers-- can you see them on the back row?  Thinner than pancakes thin.

Her final product and I give it a great big WOW!  And this is what it looks like cut.  Some people assume these are dry and maybe someone’s is but Denise’s has never been and Julia’s certainly wasn’t. It was really amazing.  

And here she is with John giving her a high five!  He, kindly, seemed as excited as Denise was about Julia’s accomplishment.  It didn’t hurt that Julia made a 13th layer and shared it with him!

Evidence of a well loved cake-- Sunday morning after the delicious Saturday night dinner Blake {and Adele, and David and Lisa!} cooked for us!

So three baseball games over one weekend, there was a really bad call.  And a really bad reaction.  I won’t go into the details but here is my brother “holding off” another player’s dad.  He kept his left arm between his friend and the opposing team’s representative.  It was heated and it didn’t not end quickly.  Can you see what I love about this picture?

Yes!  The bag!
I texted this out to all involved yesterday just to give my brother a hard time so after a few texts back and forth, John saying, “Does pink go with muted gray this season?”  And here is the rest…..
{Note:  “Dennard Drugs” , the family pharmacy, is my daddy texting.}

And that is “Classic Daddy”.  The patriarch spoke.

He had left early Sunday morning to meet friends to fish elsewhere in Florida and we were clearly annoying him.

We came home exhausted but it was that sort of trip.  We didn’t want to miss anything or anyone-- so many special people in ONE PLACE.  We stayed up entirely too late EVERY night.  I thought I was going to make it home with no real drama-- making it until I could get to Jeff- to have my parenting partner again-- and then B accidentally spilled his ENTIRE water bottle in his seat and onto the lady’s things seated behind him.


I wish I could say things like, “Oh, she was fine. She was so cool about it and told me not to worry one bit.”  I can’t.  Because she was not.  At all. God love the lady seated next to her who kept chanting, “At least it was just water. At least it was just water." I was not upset with B because it was a complete accident but the whole incident drained away about a day of my life.  I was glad to see Jeff.

It was a great weekend for so many reasons.  I am so grateful to have this family around me.  You guys are the best!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

It sounds amazing! So glad you got to go! And that cake... I think Julia needs to make one for all of your friends!