What I Love About Jacksonville

To be perfectly open, I still have quite a few days when I look around and think, "why the heck are we living in Jacksonville?" Of course the answer is a really good one (Michael's job is here) but still, if I let myself, I can get pretty down about living here. I could give you a many number of reasons why I feel this way, however, the point of this post is not to dwell on those reasons, but instead to list all of the good things this city has to offer. Although I cringe using "love" and "Jacksonville" in the same sentence, there really are some pluses to living here. So, in my resolve to be more content this year, this is me dwelling on the positives! 

1. It has a pretty great food scene. Really delicious donuts at Sweet Theory, wonderful baked goods and eats at Community Loaves, some incredible restaurants such as Orsay. Oh, and several locally owned cool coffee shops. St. Pete kinda needs to step it up and give Kahwah a run for it's money.

2. There are seasons here! In springtime, there are beautiful blossoming trees everywhere that I'd never seen before living in Jacksonville. In the fall, leaves turn colors. And it gets cold here. Like, really cold. But the summers are just as hot as any.

3. Everything is really spread out, which may seem like a negative (and sometimes it is) but the bright side is that it has taught me that it really isn't a big deal to drive 30 minutes. Living in St. Pete, everyone talks of driving to Tampa as if you're driving to the ends of the earth, when in reality it is less than a half hour. Here, just about everything and everyone is 30 minutes away, so I've gotten used to it. 

4. There are a lot of parks and nature-y things to see here. Washington Oaks State Park isn't too far, Big Talbot is really neat to visit, and there are many more places nearby that I've heard of which are on my list to see. Also, the Jacksonville Zoo is very nice! Never thought I'd say that about a zoo.

5. Adding on to that, there seem to be so many places to choose from when selecting a location for a photo session. As a photographer, obviously that's a big plus for me!

6. Jacksonville is close to a lot of other places. For example, charming Savannah, Georgia is only 2 hours away. Charleston is a bit further at 4 hours, but still pretty close! St. Augustine is 45 minutes away, which we visit on the occasional date night. Also, being so close to Georgia, we can go blueberry picking in the summertime! Another great advantage of living here is that we live less than six hours from Michael's side of the family. If we were living in St. Petersburg still, I know we would see them a lot less, so I feel grateful for how easy a trip is between us and my in-laws.

Lastly, I feel I can't end a list of what I love about Jacksonville without mentioning that we have met some wonderful people here who have become dear friends. Any place seems dull and empty without people to love and share life with.

Charlie in Central Park

In early October, Charlie and I tagged along with Michael on a work trip to NYC. My friend Courtney met up with us there to hang out with Charlie and me. She took some pictures of us during a couple different walks through Central Park, which was a real blessing since we don't often get many pictures together. 

It was Charlie's first time riding a carousel. He wanted to go on it again so badly. I did, too.

Don't his jeans make him look so grown up? 


These pictures of him in the swing are some of my favorites I've taken in a long time. 

Day Trip to Washington Oaks State Park

Earlier this summer, our family of three took a trip to Washington Oaks State Park. It is an easy one and a half hour drive from where we live. Two very different worlds seem to meet in Washington Oaks. In one area there are grand, swooping oak trees with moss dangling from the branches and meadowy patches of grass. Then, not far from there is the beach, speckled with coquina rocks and little pools of water. I'd love to venture back to this place when the coolness of autumn sets in.  

My Favorite Posts from One Year of Blogging

The first day of August marked one year since I pressed publish on my first blog post! Although posting has rarely been as consistent as I would like, I must say that I am so pleased that I am still here, tending to this space one year later. I've only once kept a journal for as long, and that was because I was sixteen and there was so much boy drama going on, my head may have actually fallen off had I not been writing it down to keep it all straight.
Anyways! Thank you to everyone who keeps coming back here to read my posts and connect with me. It truly means so much. I think the best compliment I've received from a reader (ok, fine, it was my sister) was this: "whenever I'm having a bad day, I hope you share a new post because it really brightens my day." Isn't that sweet? Thanks, sister! 
Below are my favorite posts from my first year of blogging (in no particular order). If you're new here (hi!) or would like to take a trip down memory lane, just click on each image to be taken to the respective post.

It Takes A Year (my thoughts on moving to a new place)

Everyday Madewell (a style post featuring my friend Courtney modeling her favorite Madewell pieces)

Tips for Writing Thank-You Notes

Our Trip to Washington, D.C. in October

Creativity and What People Think

Living Room Refresh

Our Stay at Zero George Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina

Charlie Turned One!

Why I Started A Blog

Favorite Jacksonville Places | Community Loaves

Over this past year, there are some places I've discovered in Jacksonville that have really become favorites. A favorite coffee shop, a favorite place for brunch, a favorite lunch spot, and so on. This post will be the first in an ongoing series on Jacksonville favorites, so if you ever visit, you'll know where to stop!

Today I'm sharing with you my favorite little bakery & bread shop, Community Loaves. I first heard of Community Loaves by seeing their bread for sale at the local health food store. They make organic sourdough bread, in varieties such as Olive Thyme and Rosemary Garlic. Their bread is the reason I still make soup in the summer!

If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen me post several pictures from my visits there. The Community Loaves shop and food is always so photogenic, I usually take a picture or two with my phone. 

When we go for brunch on the weekends, I get their bagel, egg, and cheese sandwich, and Michael usually gets avocado sea salt toast. 

I don't know what magic they do to their coffee but it's my favorite cup in Jacksonville. Sure, there are other places I love to get a fancy schmancy latte, but when it comes to just a plain cup of coffee, Community Loaves has it right. Plus they serve it in cute, locally made pottery.

In the above photo, that was a piece of peach pie. I wanted to take a picture of it, but my appetite was obviously calling the shots. Community Loaves makes some really delicious sweets, such as sea salt chocolate rye cookies, vanilla candied ginger cookies, seasonal pies, and brownies. Yes, the chocolate cookies are my favorite. 

The girls who own the shop are so very kind and their sweet conversation adds a pleasantness to our visits. Lately their oven has been on the fritz, so they began a Kickstarter project. It was fully funded and now they are able to purchase a new one!

I recently signed up to spend a day with them in the kitchen sometime this year, baking bread with an apron on and everything! I'm really excited.

                       My Grammy visited us last week and we had lunch at Community Loaves. Such a fun time.