Weekend Update from Taylor

The other night Taylor wrote this email to our families. He captured our weekend so perfectly, I'm just going to cut and paste it here (with the appropriate pictures). Enjoy!

"To all: After class on Friday, Hilary and I decided to drive up to the St. Johns River ferry. The details on the ferry website say that it leaves every half hour from Mayport Villiage to Ft. George Island. The tickets were listed at a dollar per person, and we thought it sounded like a great date for the broke, law school couple. Without researching the location of Ft. George Island, we jumped in the car and headed towards Atlantic Blvd. On the way to the ferry we stopped at McDonalds to fuel up on Spicy McChicken "sangwhiches," and salty french fries.

"We arrived at the ferry port exactly at the half hour. The director told us that the ferry was leaving, and that we needed to hurry. We parked the car as fast as we could and boarded the ferry, with the gate closing behind us. Once on deck, the First Mate asked for our fare, and we handed over our two dollars. The sun was setting in the western sky, and dolphins were playing in the wake of the ship. We thought we had found the perfect date.

"About one minute after departure the ship made a 180 degree turn towards the west. I was somewhat confused why the ship would be heading down river, but was too enthralled with the scene to care. Five minutes later the ferry docked on the other side of the St. Johns River. It didn't take us long after our arrival to figure out that Ft. George Island is merely the mass of land on the north side of St. Johns River. We had both assumed that since it was called an island, it surely must be out at sea. What Newbies are we. Fortunately the First Mate allowed us to travel on the return trip free of charge. I guess you get what you pay for.

"After our adventure at sea, we stopped at a Singleton's Seafood Shack, which was next door to the ferry port. We were still full from McD's, so we only ordered a basket of fried calamari. The batter was fair, but the calamari was tender and fresh. The back porch, where we chose to sit, was a floating dock with four large fishing/shrimping boats docked at its edge.

"The food was great, and the scene was even better. With the sun setting, and salty air at our nose, we enjoyed our delicious, seafood treat. On the way home we stopped at Peterbrooke Chocolatier for some homemade ice cream.

"I spent Saturday morning at the law school, working on a paper due this Wednesday. When I got home we packed a cooler full of Diet Coke and headed out to our favorite beach. On the way out to the beach we spotted an alligator basking in the sun, so we pulled over to snap a shot. They are impressive creatures on TV, but even more so in person.

"Now that the water is too cold for a typical day at the beach, we have adopted a new beach activity; hunting for fossilized shark teeth. The trick is to wait for a wave to wash away and scan the shoreline for little, triangular-shaped, black dots. We found about twenty teeth in just over an hour. Hilary is a better tooth scavenger than I, and she found the largest, and coolest teeth. Every weekend feels like vacation, which provides a much needed, weekly decompression from law school.

"We can't believe that it is almost Thanksgiving. The daily high is still around 75 degrees. Hilary isn't phased by the warm weather, and she is already decorating for Christmas. We are both excited for the holiday season this year because it marks the end of our first year of marriage, and my exit from the Army.

"Unfortunately I don't plan on making emails like this one a regular event. I just happened to have a few spare minutes this evening while Hilary decorated the house. Love, Taylor

"PS: Hilary here! Taylor covered everything, but I just want to send my love and a few words about decorating. I love the holidays, and since we'll only be in our place for half of December I jumped over Thanksgiving and decided to decorate for Christmas now. Taylor and I drove down the street this evening and collected some big, beautiful pine cones and acorns. Then we went to the dollar store where we bought festive wrapping paper and some ornaments. Voila! Six dollars later we are seasonal! Love, Hilary"


I worry about Coozie's feelings

While organizing the kitchen, just now, I went to put the cookie scoop away in its drawer when I saw I'd accidentally put my coozie in that drawer instead of the cupboard.

"What are you doing in there? You don't belong there." I told the red lump of foam as I threw it into the cupboard.

I immediately felt bad, worried I would give it a complex about "not belonging" and whatnot. Before I could realize I was being neurotic, I reworded the sentence into a more feeling-friendly statement.
How's that for over-sensitization?


Sweet Pete's Candy Shop

My family knows how to make amazing food, because we love to eat amazing food. You know it's a Hurst party when you have cream cheese in three different forms, Hurst Hooch (homemade rootbeer), ice cream and Grandad's candy. Yes, I grew up in a world dipping chocolates with Grandad, the real-world Willy Wonka. See proof from my amazing artist and journalism cousin. Thus, when I found Sweet Pete's candy shop, where they do candy making classes, I knew we had to go.
The location is downtown, in an old house that has been renovated into a shop and candy-creation facility, complete with party rooms on the second floor that boast a teal, glitter fire place. I wish the Halloween decorations weren't there because the whole place is so happy and beautiful and then there's a gigantic spider.

Luckily we went in the middle of a lollipop class that was being held for an eight-year-old's birthday party, so we got to watch Pete in action. Yes, we met the Pete.

We bought a good mix of chocolate covered things, and some jelly beans, and best of all was the salted caramel. The caramel is smooth and creamy and then BANG a pop of salt. And the flavor sticks through the whole experience, as opposed to being nice at first then wandering away by the end.
I love food. Anyone else have family traditions like that?


Jacksonville Equestrian Center

I love horses. I can't say I've always loved them, because I have distinct memories of building collages on our family's first computer of cheetahs (the only other animal that has been my "favorite"), but it is fair to say most people would be surprised by that fact. I am, and probably always will be, a horse girl. Luckily, Jacksonville has an equestrian center.

Taylor and I haven't had time to go see any of the big events at the Center, but we didn't have plans two weekends ago so we decided to go to the free 4H event. The Center is gorgeous! Large, well-kept facilities with indoor and outdoor show-rings,paddocks, stables and large open areas where you can park your trailer and ride off into the surrounding woods.

People who say horses are messy and smelly have probably only ever been to grungy ranches to take pony rides on dirty horses. I enjoyed every second of it.

The event was obviously put together to give kids an opportunity to practice a "show." The only people there were close family, things were lowly populated and very quiet, which was nice. The only issue is I am still gaining confidence to take pictures of people I don't know, so I didn't get the pictures I would have liked, but I did get some.

When we left we wandered around, since we were in a part of Jacksonville we'd never visited, and we literally followed our noses to a BBQ shack.
The service wasn't anything to brag about. Actually, we stood around for a few minutes wondering how things worked until the worker (and I assume owner) opened up the window and took our order. It was so worth it. The meat was delicious and tender and the sauce wasn't over-powering. Plus, the place is called JW's Best Butts BBQ. How can you not go back?