~Tuesday, February 16, 2021~
Happy Birthday to my love! ❤️🎈 ❗️Walking this life together with you has been nothing short of amazing and there is so much more in store. Today, I celebrate you….so forever grateful you’re mine (as I posted to the world on our Instagram account)
As I let my hubby sleep in, I snuck out to pick up one of his favorite drinks…...a Starbucks Chai Latte with 1 pump of mocha, and a stop at the grocery store to pick up balloons, a cake pan and a few ingredients for his favorite breakfast…….Eggs Benedict. By the way, if you’re ever in the South, make sure to check out Publix grocery stores. Well stocked, well lit, clean and very customer friendly, it’s been our go to as of late.
With Jeff still asleep by the time I got back, I launched into getting a few decorations up and making the cake. We’ve really had the kitchen supplies dialed in these past 7 months, but there have been a few occasions where we’ve had to purchase a few other items…..Thanksgiving and Jeff’s birthday. I already had a pie pan and a muffin tin, but just didn’t feel those would suffice in making Jeff’s double layer cake. It was the right decision. Even though I had to bake 1 pan at a time, it worked out great as I was whipping up the breakfast in between. The last few times I’ve made Eggs Benedict, I’ve added sauteed spinach and asparagus which has been a nice alternative for me not being a meat eater. The breakfast turned out perfect!
What a way to wake up…..the aroma of a hot cup of Chai, freshly baked chocolate cake, and Eggs Benedict.
Now off to see manatees (can’t get enough of these friendly, large creatures). Jeff wanted to go somewhere today where we could bring Sadie. So Blue Spring State Park in Orange City it was. It had only been a few weeks ago that Jeff read a review by someone who witnessed 300 manatees while at the springs. But it’s all in the timing. The park attendant mentioned that the increased air temperatures have triggered the manatees to head back out to sea, which explains why we only saw 3. Clustered together, in the greenish, clear water, a few of them had sensor tags on their bodies.
We learned from the park attendant that if a manatee has been injured or under great stress, they are rehabilitated, tagged, released and monitored for up to a year. This process has been one of the contributing factors in rebuilding their population, but with a great deal of work still to be done. Their biggest threat is man (mainly from motor blades by boaters).
After our manatee visit, it was time to start checking off a few breweries on Jeff’s list. He had 3: Ellipsis Brewing, Sideward Brewing and RockPit Brewing. Dog friendly, RockPit turned out to be our one and ONLY stop. It’s rated a 5 out of 5 and we hit it on just the right night. They must have known it was Jeffrey’s birthday 😉. When we arrived around 5:30, Fleur D’Elise food truck was busy setting up their food stations outside, while the band, Gypsy Elise, was setting up inside. At first, when we were told that the live music wasn’t going to start until 7:30 😩, we didn’t think we would be staying long enough to hear it. We didn’t leave until 10:00. 🤣 It is the completely unexpected occasions that are simply, the best. What was just going to be a 1 beer stop, turned into a Cajun/Bayou fun-fest. They were celebrating Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday). We had heard of Fat Tuesday before, but didn’t understand what it really meant. For those that also don’t know, Fat Tuesday is the last day of Mardi Gras where people take part in eating rich, fatty foods and living it up before the ritual Lenten sacrifices begin. I’d say we definitely took part in the celebration. The beer was delicious, the food by Fleur D’Elise food truck, scrumptious and the band, amazing. Evidently, their New Orleans high energy, rhythmic music has given them 3 Grammy nods. They were amazing (you can have a listen on our video page with the same date as this post). I guess we’ll have to check out Cafe Tu Tu Tango another time.
After receiving a few birthday calls and responding to Instagram wishes, it was time to move on to cake and presents. But first, a little background on Jeff’s gift. I always keep a running birthday/Christmas list for each family member. Jeff had mentioned a photographer that he discovered and now follows on Instagram. His name is Chris Burkard. Note to self: Chris Picard (there actually is another professional photographer with the same sounding name). So I went with that. Was I spelling it correctly? Buckart, Buckard, Bucart, Picard? Anyway, about a month ago, I began my research. In fact, I reached out to who I thought was Chris Burkard and he responded. He emailed, “I don’t sell my photography, but I can send you a digital copy of one of his favorite shots at no charge”. As I was just about to take him up on his offer, I decided to do a little more investigating since his reply didn’t quite match the description Jeff had given me. Somehow, I got Jeff to give me some hint of how to spell his name. Boy, was I off. It starts with a B, not a P, you idiot (me). 🤣 I was exchanging emails with the wrong guy, though I appreciated his kind offer. He’s also an excellent photographer. I immediately recognized the right guy when I got to the correct website (Jeff had shown me a photo of him a while ago). Jeff not only likes him for his photography, but his stories and struggles to get where he is. He’s a guy that definitely wears his heart on his sleeve. Honest and raw. Now he’s one of the most sought after photographers in the world with emphasis on aerial nature photography. When I ordered a signed copy, the shipping was supposed to take 2 days, fitting perfectly into our traveling schedule. But then…….a problem. The very next day, I got a notice from USPS, stating, “Due to weather delays and COVID, shipments are taking longer than usual. Expect your package to arrive in 7 days.” Ugh😩😩. Now what? The next day, I was about to make plans to reroute the package, but just before, received another notification that my package had been delivered to our campground after all! USPS came through!
Exhausting, but so worth the struggle after seeing hubby’s reaction. And the best part….it was a complete surprise. Those kinds of gifts are always the best!