Jacksonville ~ Is Christmas Town

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First Coast All About Christmas

A neighbor in my condo complex wanted to see the local  Mandarin Chick-fil-A’s Twelve Nights of Christmas, again. Mandarin is our neighborhood in the geographically huge city of Jacksonville.

She’d been there the night before to support her daughter’s school. Each night if customers mentioned the name of the particular local not-for-profit showcased, the organization received a percentage of the price of the meal. So, I said, “Why take two cars, I’ll drive.”JAX Xmas Tree 3

We had our chicken sandwich meal and the place was packed with families. Squirming, laughing children couldn’t wait to rush over to the the outside decorated area and see what was going on. Many of the not-for-profits had decorated a tree.

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We were early-birds and the singing presentation would be quite a bit later. We didn’t stay for it. We did listen to the teenagers rehearsing their Christmas carols. They sounded great.JAX Chick-f0;-A Carolers

Jacksonville is on the First Coast (called thus because St. Augustine was the first permanent settlement by Europeans in the Americas) and the First Coast is very Christmasy. Nothing can compare to it.  It seems every single church is having a presentation of some type (classical Christmas music, Christmas worship music, children’s presentations, a series of family-friendly Christmas movies, and much more). There are local neighborhood Christmas crafts fairs, food fairs, and the like.

JAX Chick-fil-A Cow

I did get to meet the Chick-fil-A cow from the television commercials. He is real.

The Jacksonville Historical Society has an extraordinary Gingerbread Extravaganza display every year. Grade school classes contribute displays as well as professional bakers.

Jacksonville Beach has Deck the Chairs every year. I went last year and it was spectacular…forty decorated lifeguard chairs.

When I lived in NYC, my husband and I went many times to see “the tree” and huge lighted angels at Rockefeller Center. Each time it was wonderful. But, let me tell you, St. Augustine’s Night of Lights at Christmas has NYC beat by a mile. You have not seen a Christmas light display like this. It’s not to be missed.

Millie’s Christmas by Kathy McKinsey ~ a Christmas spotlight

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A kitten’s first Christmas

It’s wonderful having Kathy McKinsey here for an interview. I’ve come to admire and respect Kathy as the editor of two of my murder mystery novels. So, it’s a treat to learn about her children’s Christmas book.

Nike:  What brought you to write this book/series?

Kathy:  I was looking for a project to force myself to write every day. God gave me this gift, one of my favorite of my own stories.

Nike:  What do you want the reader to take-away from this novel/series?

Kathy:  No matter the troubles we face, we can find joy and comfort from the loving presence of Jesus.

Nike:  What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

Kathy: I normally write women’s fiction. I am currently working on another collection of novellas. The stories include a couple of writing challenges I’m giving myself.

Bullet/Fun Questions:

Q:  What is your fav vacay spot?

Kathy:  Visiting my mother and daughters in Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri.

Q:  What is your fav thing to eat?

Kathy:  A hamburger with all the vegetables I can get on it.

Q:  You can live anywhere while you write a novel set there. Where is that? Why?

Kathy:  Hawaii. Not as a tourist.

Millie’s Christmas in a nut shell…

Ruthie says Millie will love Christmas. Ruthie is Millie’s best friend, so she’s sure Ruthie’s right, but why does Millie keep finding Ruthie and her brother Jake crying?
Millie, an orange ktten, shares about her first Christmas. Her best friend Ruthie, six years old, teaches Millie about Christmas—food, decorations, music, presents, and Jesus!

Millie’s friend Bruce, the family dog, also helps her celebrate Christmas, and sometimes gets her in trouble.

When Ruthie’s big brother Jake breaks his ankle, Millie learns about sad things, like divorce, when Jake can’t visit his mommy for Christmas. Millie watches Ruthie’s family love each other through the sadness and find joy in Christmas.

Kathy McKinney

Author Bio:

Kathy McKinsey grew up on a pig farm in Missouri, and although she’s lived in cities for nearly 40 years, she still considers herself a farm girl. She’s been married to Murray for 32 years, and they have five adult children.

She’s had two careers before writing—stay-at-home-Mom and rehabilitation teacher for the blind. She lives in Lakewood, Ohio with her husband and two of her children.

Besides writing, she enjoys activities with her church, editing for other writers, braille transcribing, crocheting, knitting, and playing with the cat and dog.

Purchase MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS on Amazon

Kathy’s Website

Kathy on Facebook

Kathy on Twitter

Christmas Under Wraps (Mullet Harbor Book 1) by Fay Lamb ~ a review

Christmas Under Wraps

Romance, Humor, Christmas

This is such an engaging Christmas story. The cast of quirky, sometimes baffling townsfolk living in Mullet Harbor pull you right in.

English Professor Christian Abrams and his nephew Dylan are on the run and wind up in Mullet Harbor, a unique hamlet in the Florida everglades. Chris is broke, out of gas, and has a child to feed. This is when he meets sweet and compassionate local school teacher Kaylee McFarland who talks him into staying in Mullet Harbor at least until after Christmas. That’s when it starts to get interesting…and when Chris learns the townsfolk really do take care of each other and they rely on their faith.

We meet Herb, the mayor who wears flip-flops…and Abigail, the shy town baker who flits around like a hummingbird. Then throw in a Cajun sheriff not afraid to take a chance on a good man. Stir in a delightful little girl named Sophie who’s had more than her share of sorrow in her short life. Could the icing on the top be a Christmas miracle? Perhaps more than one.

This is a fun, delightful read…a romp through the swamp. There’s also an alligator named Abercrombie.

Purchase On Amazon

Kan-Ki, Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, Jacksonville ~ restaurant review

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My entree: Chicken Teriyaki

My gal-pal and writing-buddy Lynn (writing as Dalyn Woods) and I were looking for a Friday evening place to eat and we decided on Kan-Ki. I looked at it’s website and found out it’s a family owned business that has three locations in Jacksonville.

So we were seated at a Hibachi table with a grill. Two other families (of three people) and already been seated and the each had a birthday celebrant. So they went for it and ordered Sushi as an appetizer, ordered grilled shrimp, steak, scallops, salmon entrees. Lynn and I weren’t celebrating anything, just out to eat and we ordered the Chicken Teriyaki. I asked for mine with fried rice and Lynn wanted steamed rice. BTW, three young women came out with drums and sang their own version of a happy birthday song. They did this at every table with a birthday.

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Onion ring volcano with steam next to grilling veggies

Our chef was very conversational and entertaining. The food was very good. We started out with a clear broth type soup and a salad. I asked for the ginger dressing on my salad and Lynn went for ranch. The diner to my right was a highly conversational gent and he and the chef were having a great time. It was his 17 year old daughter’s birthday.

Lynn and I enjoyed out food. There was plenty of it. I ate all of my chicken and half of the rice. I took the remainder of the rice home along with all of the veggies. Two other people at the table took food home. There was a lot to eat. All seven people at the table thought the food was good.

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Onion ring volcano with “lava”

I see some of the one star reviews and don’t understand them. The tables seat seven people. I will say this, if you have a group larger than seven people you will have different dynamic at the different tables. If you have 21 people and three different tables I can’t see how you could possibly have one big unified dining experience. I hope that helps.

The only point I can make is that the servers and staff were rushed. They have many hats: taking orders, serving beverages and food, banging the drum and singing a happy b’day song, removing dishes from the table. I think this rush is kind of typical of Hibachi restaurants. A lot is going on. I gave five stars because it was what I expected, plus. I wasn’t disappointed at all.

Kan-Ki Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar

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Chicken breasts being grilled and sliced
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Fried rice being made

Christmas Day ~ in northeast coastal Florida

IMG_2863After my daughter Vicky made a 117 course Christmas breakfast oozing with cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar, as well as homemade sweetbread and fresh blueberries, we had to walk some of it off before dinner. Yes, we had seriously over indulged, thus we we had to intentionally burn some calories off. My body is the temple of the Living God, and I have to treat it as if it is.

We headed for the public boat slip on a cove of the St. John’s River located at our local city park. Duval County is gorgeous in December. Here I’m with Sophie the Wonder Dog.

IMG_2872We sat on the dock and watched the sailboats, deep sea fishing boats, kayaks, paddle-boats, and jet skiers go by. Those jet skiers are hearty folk. Even though it’s Florida, the water is cold. I want to encourage those over 50, as well as “seasoned citizens” to get out and do. Go for it. Live life.

IMG_2869A nearby boat-slip…just beyond the dock.

Merry Christmas to all. The Savior was born over 2000 years ago in Bethlehem and He dwells with us. Emanuel, God with us.

May you all be blessed in the new year.

 

 

A Hiding Place ~ for Christmas presents

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Beauty, what are you doing in my secret hiding place???

I don’t have to hide Christmas gifts from kids anymore, as mine are adults. However, I have to hide any present in a decorative gift bag from my cats. They love to climb inside bags and hide there, or tear them apart. So, I had a brilliant idea. They’d never find the bags inside the armoire. Would they?

 

 

 

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, ~ John 1:112 [New American Standard Bible – NASB]

Merry Christmas Everyone