After another hard week at work, it was wonderful to have family come to me this weekend, which of course meant that we went to the beach today. It was overcast, and the water was a little chilly, but oh, so wonderful and relaxing anyway.
Although I didn’t grow up anywhere near Daytona Beach, and never went there before moving to DeLand, every time I go, it feels like home. It feels like nostalgia to me, full of memories. Maybe some of that comes from reading books about beaches with boardwalks, and from watching TV shows with similar themes.
But there are actual memories mixed up in some of it. When I was a little girl, every once in a while the carnival would come to town and set up in the Montgomery Wards parking lot. My sister and I would beg to go and ride on those rides, and usually we would get to ride one ride, or maybe two. My sister loved the Tilt-O-Whirl, while I always wanted to ride the Octopus. Somehow, she always seemed to win. When I finally did get to ride the Octopus, it turned out that I really didn’t like it at all.
Carnival rides always remind me of those times with my sister. Sometimes, feelings of nostalgia can be painful and frustrating, but to me, Daytona Beach feels fulfilling in its nostalgia, like I am in simpler times. Given how stressful my job has been lately, that simplicity is always welcome.
I’m cheating a little bit here, because I don’t have an iPhone. My phone is one I got off eBay because it has a full keyboard and I can’t pocket dial it. They don’t make them anymore, but I’ve heard that the newer phones are almost impossible to pocket dial, so when my renewal is up, I’ll try again. In the meantime, I take photos with my camera. And as I promised, I am including some Florida green for my loyal followers.
Since I’m in Gainesville today, I chose to use my Gainesville neighborhood for this challenge, and started in my own front yard, with a shamrock. I love these little flowers that grow like weeds around here. Must be the Irish in me.
In fact, I fell completely in love with the sky today. The greening of the trees didn’t hurt that feeling a bit.
Even the ones that haven’t greened up were beautiful against the blue of the sky. Silver branches on blue may have been the inspiration for Tiffany’s boxes, don’t you think?
Closer to the ground, a forest of flowers blooms, while a maple leaf lifts its hand and says “Pick me!”
One of the things that never ceases to amaze me in Florida is how often, and how long, the azaleas bloom. After almost any cold snap, even if it’s only a few hours, the azaleas will burst forth into their wild blooms. These are not the small flowers I was familiar with in Virginia, but rather huge, showy blooms. I do sometimes miss those smaller flowers, and the larger variety of colors, but I love these ones as well. The bushes themselves grow huge as well. That flower is just above my roof line. It may not be the most beautiful specimen, and its siblings have withered away during our relatively cold week, but I love the heights it has reached.
My favorite thing of all was an accidental find. I went around behind my house and saw something white in the wilds. At first, I couldn’t tell if it was trash or a flower, so I went closer and found this single bloom on a wild rose. A real wild rose, not the kind you sometimes find planted in a garden, but a rose that grew out here with no coaxing. The smell was heavenly, and I am hoping that it grows like crazy out here in the back.
Now that I got my run in, it’s time for my other favorite box, MistoBox! Aren’t you glad I’m posting twice in one day?
Yes, yes, I promise that this weekend, you will get greenery instead of boxes! But right now, I have boxes.
I have loved coffee all my life. My mother tells me that I used to steal it when I was way too young to remember such a thing. I do remember going to A&P with my dad and smelling the 8 O’Clock as the machine ground it up and spit it back into the bag. What a wonderful smell! Now you can buy 8 O’Clock at any grocery store, and it just doesn’t seem to taste the same.
Anyway, yes, I can be one of those annoying people who will tell you how to brew coffee for the best results, and I may roll my eyes if you put sugar in your coffee (although I have come to appreciate how wonderfully cream can enhance some brews). I don’t go as far as some do and insist on weighing my coffee and measuring my water exactly, because that’s not how I cook anything.
So, when I found out about subscription boxes, I searched for a coffee one. There are several, but most of them seem to send the same thing every time, or you get to choose what you want and they send it to you. That’s not what I want out of these boxes. I’m looking for a little excitement, a chance to try something I wouldn’t otherwise, and I really just like to get a surprise in the mail. MistoBox is exactly what I was looking for. Every month, you get to try four different coffees, freshly roasted, from small-batch roasters around the country. There’s a little bit of coffee snobbery on the website, but not too much. And mostly they agree with me, so you know they’re right.
But when I saw this, I squealed! PANTHER COFFEE! I mean, I do live in Florida, and one of my goals in life is to see a real Florida panther. When I read the list (which I photographed up there ^ before reading), I found out that it is from a Florida roaster. Well, that means that of course I had to write about it on my Florida blog, right?
I’m so glad you see it my way.
Usually I am a pour-over coffee drinker. It’s simple, cheap, quick, and really, really good. I don’t have the Japanese pour-over kit, just a nice ceramic Melitta-style one and a regular tea kettle. To me, the ceramic is nicer than plastic because it doesn’t add any flavor, but plastic works, too. One thing I have noticed is that a lot of people will use some kind of a stand so they can see how full their cup is. When you do that, it seems that the coffee comes out tasting a bit thinner (which I believe was the idea behind Krups AromaSavor back when Krups made a really good brewer). Put the dripper on the mug, and peek at it every once in a while. Or make it in the sink so there’s no mess to clean up.
Now that I’ve said all that, with last month’s batch of coffees, I ended up using a French press because I’m used to a darker roast than these ones (yeah, I drink Starbucks). The French press allows for a fuller flavor from the lighter roast. It’s almost as easy as pour-over, and it is easier to make coffee for more than one at a time by French press. And if you need to buy one, MistoBox will be glad to sell you one. Or they can sell you the Japanese pour over kit. Or the Aeropress, which I haven’t tried yet.
Now, I know some people look for bargains in their boxes. Generally, I am one of them. For $15, you get 8 ounces of coffee in a MistoBox, or you can go to your local store and buy a one-pound bag of 8 O’Clock for $7. More coffee sounds better, but you know what? Coffee is one of those things that just is worth paying for. And MistoBox does offer a free shipping on one bag of your favorite monthly brew.
If you want to subscribe to MistoBox, click here, mistobox.com, and tell them Margaret Hoffman sent you. Your first box will be $5, and you can decide after that if you want to stay with them. You probably will.
And if I’m going to keep posting these reviews, I better get some better lighting.
And I’m very sorry that I’m such an infrequent poster these days. Maybe with the time change next week I can get out in the daylight a little more often and get some photos worth showing.
Or at least go to the beach again, where I will gladly take lousy photos to share with my loyal readers.
Back to the Stridebox! It is fantastically stuffed full of the things I always want, beginning with a lightweight wrist wallet in bright pink. I’m not sure if I got pink because they paid attention to gender, or if they just happened to be at a pink one when my box was there. In any case, I’m so very glad I got it, because I’m always trying to figure out what to do with a bit of cash, or an ID, or my key. This is the perfect solution, which I will try out tonight.
Okay, yeah, I’ll take the chocolate, too.
Oh, yeah, and I’ll take espresso, too! Click Espresso Protein Drink, to be used hot or cold, or blended. This is meant to be used after a run, but I’ll probably have it for breakfast. Along with the Kind bar. I’ve had those before, and like them, but I’m not really sure they’re geared toward runners. It isn’t something I’d want to eat right before or after a workout. Nuts and caramel just don’t go with sweat in my book.
And YAY! Something to try besides BodyGlide, which is fine, don’t think I’m knocking it, but it sometimes isn’t quite enough. I’m hoping that Run Guard will do the trick for me. If not, it’s back to 2Toms, even if I do have to buy the stuff way too often.
Hello, Power Ice! Where were you when I had sick kids who couldn’t eat? I used to make PowerAde and Gatorade popsicles when I had sick kids, but I never thought of doing it for me. D’oh! You better believe these will be enjoyed, because, hey, I live in Florida. Sorry for the completely blurry photo, but I only took one at this stage, so of course, I did it badly.
And I’m sorry to all my northern friends who like to visit my blog for greenery. I need to get on that this weekend.
Then there is a Picky Bars, in All-In-Almond flavor. It’s vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free, and tells me “It’s freaking science, dude.” Honestly, this will probably be a work snack, because it doesn’t seem like running food to me.
Overall, it’s a pretty nice haul for a $15 box. There are also several coupon codes printed on the info card, and one for Skora, which “is making it easier to LOVE YOUR RUN AGAIN.” I will hope over to their site soon.
If you want to subscribe to Stridebox, here’s a link: https://stridebox.com. They don’t have any referral bonuses yet, and the site is fairly barebones, but I love them anyway.
Do you like these reviews? Should I keep doing them here, or should I start up a review blog for them? I’ll be posting one for MistoBox soon. After that, I’ll get in some of my normal Florida posts.
One of the things I like to do on my lunch hour is to go over to DeLand Municipal Airport and watch the skydivers. Of course, usually when I go over there with my camera, nobody is skydiving. When they are, I don’t have my camera. Yesterday, however, not only did I have my camera and a sky full of skydivers, but I had a brilliantly blue sky for a backdrop, with just a few clouds here and there.
Now, have no fear, I have no interest in actually doing this myself. My courage is for wildlife, not for manmade dangers like this one. I just love to watch them come down.
In the few months I’ve been here, I have learned to tell the beginners from the more serious skydivers, the pleasure-seekers from the professionals. The beginners tend to come down slowly, just drifting through the sky.
Just when it looks like they’ll splat, they right themselves again to slow their fall.
You might think that once they’re on the ground, it’s all over, but in reality, they still have a lot to do. The chutes must be gathered up and carried in to be repacked so they can do it all over again.
I saw their shirts before they went up, so I know that this group is a para-rescue team. They seem to really like their jobs, which is a good thing, because otherwise, they’d have to send sissies like me up there to rescue people.
Lately the concept of home has been on my mind quite a bit, so I jumped into this weeks photo challenge, with much more than my usual one or two photos. I have been contemplating where my home is right now, since I’m living in two places, and since I’ve resisted calling Florida my home for so long. The whole 15 years I’ve lived here, I’ve been trying to live somewhere else, up where it snows, where people are packed densely into cities, where every luxury and desire can be found within a short drive.
But right now, home is in Florida, and I have come to appreciate that, and at times, even embrace it. This is my home, in Gainesville, where the lake beckons to me, turning trees to liquid, and glowing with sunshine.
And home is a little house, behind a maple tree, with helicopter seeds that glow red against the brilliantly blue sky. This is my home, where my family waits for me when I am in DeLand. It calls me to it, no matter how much I love my other little home, and no matter how much I want to spend my weekend at the beach.
On my way home from work tonight, I was passing the park and saw a beautiful heron sitting on a rock. Since I had managed to bring my camera with me (although not my favorite lens), I decided to risk inflaming my bronchia (which are not yet completely recovered), and hopped out to take some photos along the trail. When I stepped out of my car, the first thing I saw was a big group of ducks. Now, in some parks, you might find mallards, or domestic whites, or teals, or muscovies. At this park, you might find any one of these, but more likely, you’ll see a mutt, like this one. Truly unique, each one of these ducks is some mixture of any number of more ordinary ducks. I’m not sure why they interbreed so much here, but it’s fun trying to sort out the mixes.
So tonight, I’m doing something a little bit different for me. Apparently, it’s not so different from what a lot of other bloggers do, but I’m new to this. You see, I recently discovered subscription boxes, and I’m fascinated by them. So far, I’ve subscribed to BirchBox, Julep Maven, MistoBox, and StrideBox. Since this is StrideBox‘s premiere box, they asked us all to photograph or video our box opening. Since I have just been diagnosed with bronchitis and am pretty much confined to home, I decided I might as well do it. Forgive me for the photography; it was already dark by the time I got to open it, and it really isn’t quite what I’m used to capturing.
StrideBox is a subscription box for runners, which makes it slightly painful to get when I have bronchitis. I also got my new Suunto Quest Heart Rate Monitor today, and a new pair of running shoes (Brooks PureConnect2) since I got sick. This is pure torture, having all this new, cool stuff to play with when I’m coughing my lungs out.
Anyway, the box is pretty cool, and a bit larger than most of these boxes are. I like the “Just Keep Running” tape on it, but I’m a little silly like that. When I opened it, the first thing I saw was the info card, which is pretty standard with subscription boxes. They tend to be a little easier to read than the instructions on some of those packages. This one had websites and discount codes for most of the products.
Beneath the blue tissue paper was a foldable bottle that’s pretty cool. It shrinks as you drink, Underneath that was a pair of shoelaces that don’t need to be tied, ever. Now that’s something I can really use, since I can never keep a pair of shoes tied for more than a mile or two. Of course, my new shoes have awesome neon green laces, so maybe I’ll try these ones out on my old shoes first.
A couple of pain relief gels were next, followed by all the wonderful nutrition and electrolyte things I’d been hoping for. Skratch Labs Hydration Mix in two flavors, a Hammer Bar, easy to eat, high energy nutrition bar, and Endurolytes Tab, for a few extra electorlytes, Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gel, which I’ve been wanting to try, Gu Chomps Energy Chews, for quick energy on long runs when you don’t feel like sucking down a tube of frosting-like goo, and a MazamaBar, for quick nutrition before a run.
Somewhere in the middle of all that, I found a trio (but only photographed two, because I found the last a little later) of On The Go Towels for Men, which the info card promises are not just for men. I can see these being especially useful after a race, when you can’t really go home and shower while you’re waiting for the award ceremony. They’d also be nice when you have to go to the store on your way home from a run, or when you have to haul sweaty kids from one soccer game to another.
Overall, I’d have to say StrideBox was a little better than I expected, and definitely worth the price. Some of these boxes have stores attached where you can buy what comes in them, but StrideBox doesn’t have that. They do offer discount codes for most of the products, though. If you’re interested in getting in on it, hit the StrideBox name anywhere in this post. If you aren’t, don’t worry, I’ll be back to my usual blogging with my next post.
As promised, I did find my battery charger, so I managed to get a few photos. When I was leaving DeLand last night, the sky was exploding with color, so I had to stop and snap a shot or two while MJ begged me to just get in the car and go. How could I ignore the tree silhouetted against a blue and pink sky?
There are a million reasons why I haven’t been around much lately, including losing the charger for my camera’s battery. Yes, I know I could buy a new one, but I’m sure I’ll find it soon!
And now here I am, and I am not giving you a bunch of my photos to look at, but I do have some exciting news. My submission was accepted to a show at The Florida Museum for Women Artists here in DeLand! It’s not a photo, and it’s not even my own art piece, but an essay that I wrote about my neighbor across the street when I was growing up, accompanied by a reproduction of one of her watercolors of my own house on a snowy day. If you’ve read my About Me section, you know that I didn’t grow up in Florida, so I guess this really isn’t much of a Florida post. Except that the museum is in Florida.
The show is called Applaud that Woman! and runs from this Saturday through March 30. It’s part of a bigger exhibition called Connect 3. Here’s a link: http://www.floridamuseumforwomenartists.org/exhibitions/current-exhibitions-2/.
For those of you who are too far away to come see it in person, here’s my essay.
To my first best friend, Mrs. Keith
Every year at Christmas time, I look at teacups, choosing the perfect one for you. I may not be able to give it to you anymore, but I always choose the one you would have loved.
In my garden this year, I planted impatiens, red and white, just like you always had. I didn’t have any azaleas to plant them under, and the sun in my yard is strong, but I found the shadiest spot, hoping I could coax them to survive and come back again. They are still there, even though it is January now, so maybe I did it right.
Others may go on trips out to the country to pick apples, but the ones I want to pick are the sour apples from your back yard, being careful to find the good ones, without the lumpy worm tracks.
I loved leaving you May baskets, ringing your bell and running away to hide, even though you knew who left it. I couldn’t imagine making a loaf of bread without taking one to you.
Then there were the treasure hunts in your basement, with peanuts and pennies and dimes, when I had to share you with the neighbor kids, but I didn’t even mind.
You would have me do chores for you, weeding, picking apples, and carrying things down from your attic. You always paid me, but I would have done it all for free. The money got spent on candy, but the time was spent with you.
My favorite times were teatimes, sometimes alone with you, sometimes with Pete, or Cathy. We drank tea from beautiful cups, and always with a cookie, or cake. You served an apple brown betty one day, warm from the oven, the first one I’d ever had. Before that, I always thought that apples were for pies or eating out of hand. One time, when you were out of cookies and had baked nothing, you served ice cream slices. Even though I never cared much for Neapolitan ice cream, I loved those slices.
They don’t make those ice cream slices anymore, but I still love to drink tea.
Everywhere else I went, I was a wild tomboy, but you always treated me as if I were a lady. And when I was with you, I was a lady. We would talk about baking, about history, and about painting. Your memories of Arlington, and of our neighborhood being built inspired my imagination, making me think of what had been and what could be.
No matter how many times I came over to see you, I don’t remember ever seeing you when you were not smiling, or when you were not happy to see me.
In every aspect of my life, there are traces of your influence, so entrained in me that I have to think hard to realize where they came from.
I hope I let you know how much you will always mean to me.
Clara Keith, nee Stewart, was my neighbor across the street when I was a child. She was an accomplished artist, and a friend to the neighborhood children, especially me. Although I never knew her age when she was alive, I recently found out that she was born April 3, 1904 and died in 2004 at the age of 100. The accompanying watercolor was done sometime around 1980, and depicts my own house in a snowstorm.
I promise I’ll get my camera back out soon.