Back Home

Two weeks ago, Keegan and I went home to Michigan! More than likely if you’re a person reading this post, you already knew this, and we probably saw each other. For my rapidly growing online fan base (hah!) and for those of you who weren’t glued to my side every second of the trip, here are the highlights: Val and Rios’s Wedding! 7. 11.2015 I’ve been friends with Val since Aquinas, and Keegan and I have been friends with her and her fiance since before they were dating! These two got married at a beautiful apple orchard in Pottersville, and do they know how to throw a party! They had people on the dance floor ages 3 to …. older than 3. Perfect weather. Val looked AMAZING. Rios looked SO handsome. We had an awesome time celebrating!

The beautiful bride

Lovin’ on the bride

Group shot!

Mr. and Mrs. Rios!

For that next week, I got work back and my old home base of Grand Rapids. If you don’t know me that well, you should know this: I love OtterBase. My company has given me such incredible opportunities, my director is the kind of guy you want leading your team, and my business partner lets me both cry on shoulder (reluctantly) and takes us out fishing at Grand Haven.  Don’t get me wrong–he’s a sarcastic ass half the time, but that’s why I love him. “BRIANNA!!!!!!!! WHAT’S GOING ON?!?!? What are you WEARING?!” While I was back, Pat’s wife Lou dropped by the girls! These little princesses brighten up the office every time they stop by. And they remind me that Pat is, in fact, a human being.

Pat and Syd

I packed my weeknights hanging out with my best friends and family. Keegan and I did dinner with his parents then hung out with all of our Cadillac and Aquinas group of friends that first Friday we got into town. It’s impossible to not have fun with these guys! Not posting any pictures because no one wants to see Bri with bottle service at the Eve. No one. Way too messy. Amy and I saw Far From the Madding Crowd on Sunday. Not our favorite movie. Slow plot, barely any dialogue. 19th century setting but not the best period film. We’ll take Pride and Prejudice anyyyy day. Heather and I went to Little Africa for dinner on Tuesday. If you’re into “different” food. GO THERE. It’s Ethiopian food, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever eaten. I’m not even going to describe it. If you like vegetarian food and naan, stop on by. We used to go there all the time when we went to Aquinas. Oh, if you go there, make sure you get the tea. You will be back. Abby and Kelsey and I went to Maru–my favorite sushi place in Grand Rapids! We drank and drank and stayed at the table way too long. Our waitress seriously hated us by the end. I don’t care. I had to catch up with my girls! Whenever I come back to Grand Rapids, Aunt Linda always lets me stay at her place. We eat, we drink, we watch Orphan Black and talk about Outlander. It really is the perfect life. She also got me into Jamie Oliver’s cookbook Meals in Minutes. It’s healthy food in minutes, by the way. I’m excited to try out some recipes!

Sweet little Brady Boe

Sweet little Brady Boe

On Wednesday, I met Dad, Shelley, Kelly, and Brady in Webbersville. It is exactly half way between Grand Rapids and Roseville, so it’s the perfect meeting place. We picked up dinner and made a little picnic in park, which was followed by an impromptu baseball game. If you’re not already connected with Kelly on Snapchat, do it (kellyboe). She sent videos of our amazing game, PLUS she’s a flight attendant. One day she’s sending Snaps from Salt Lake City, the next she’s in Amsterdam. This girl’s amazing. Laura and Alessandro’s Wedding!! 7.18.2015 On Friday, I drove up to Traverse City to celebrate the wedding of Laura and Allesandro!!!!! \ The bridal party started with nails followed by the food trucks for lunch on Friday. Let me tell you this, Laura is a special girl. I’ve been best friends with her since my Aquinas days, and she is the most loyal friend you will meet. As her maid of honor Anna put it, she has so many best friends, but she has a heart big enough for them all. Laura is abundantly loving and incredibly goofy. She’ll make you laugh when you don’t want to and she’ll be there for you even if you’re a thousand miles away. Not to mention, Alessandro is the perfect guy for. I am so blessed that they asked me to be a part of their big day! To make it even better, her bridesmaids kick ass. They are SO nice and the most beautiful group of women I’ve ever seen! I loved getting to know all of Laura’s closest friends and dancing the night away with friends old and new.

Bridesmaids with the Bride at rehearsal dinner!

Laura got us all monogrammed bath robes with the letters in the colors of our bridesmaid dresses! Best present ever!

Laura got us all monogrammed bath robes with the letters in the colors of our bridesmaid dresses! Best present ever!

Look at that girl! Most beautiful bride in town! #aleandlauragetmarried

Mr. and Mrs. Chimento! #coupleofchimentos

The AQ Crew. Go Saints!

If you can’t tell, my trip home was awesome. Miss you, Michigan! xoxo mi love from jax

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A Different Kind of Storm

According to Facebook, a very trusty source indeed, Michigan has been getting hit pretty hard with storms and even a tornado! Of course as soon as I leave that happens. Geez.

If you don’t know, I love storms. Thunderstorms to be exact. I love being nestled in bed hearing the rain lightly falling on the ceiling, seeing the lightning suddenly flash across the sky, and hearing the thunder reign down upon the earth. Pretty cool stuff.

In Florida, our thunderstorms are different from back home. Not to state the obvious, but in Michigan, when it rains and thunders, it is dark outside. Right? Duh. And it’s usually dreary and leaves you slightly chilled just by looking outside.

That’s not always the case in Jacksonville.

Sometimes it’ll storm during the day but the sky will stay perfectly blue. I’ll hear a loud *clap* and look out my window and see a light blue sky with fluffy cumulus clouds. Then the lightning. But no sign of rain. It still makes me take a double-take. I’m talking about a STORM in PERFECT weather. (One could say The Perfect Storm eh? eh?)

Other times, it seems like Mother Nature is PMSing and our condo community is the one who forgot to buy her some Milk Duds. I’m talking CRAZY thunder and lighting. Rain pouring down like you have never seen. Lightning that illuminates the entire sky when it should be pitch black. If Keegan and I had pets or children, they’d surely be in bed with us crying their little eyes out. Poor future babies.

Though I’m jealous of your tornado weather, I am really enjoying the Jacksonville storm scene. All the fun of a storm but you know it’ll be sunny once you wake up.

Here are some pictures of a sweet thunderstorm we had on Monday.

Right before the lightning struck

                      

Stay dry, Michigan!

Memorial Day Weekend 2015

This weekend, Keegan and I lived it up!

We started the weekend off with a twist and a snap of our fingers at the Jacksonville Jazz Fest downtown! It was my first time being in downtown Jax, and it was my first jazz festival–both were very cool. There were different stages and venues set up throughout the downtown area featuring local and more well-known jazz artists.

One of the music venues was at Jacksonville Landings which is a right along the St. Johns River. Such a prime spot. There are restaurants, bars, shopping, you name it. We had a drink at Fionn MacCool’s Irish Restaurant and Pub. The drinks were great and the waiters wear kilts. What else could you want out of an Irish pub? (I’m reading Outlander right now and had a very difficult time not speaking in a Scottish accent. The MacKenzies! The MacCools! They would have been clansmen. I’m sure of it.)

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Jacksonville Landing-what an appropriate Memorial Day picture

Then we went to American Grill to watch the artists play from the outdoor patio, and that place was not our fave. Service took forever, and Keegan’s bar stool was falling apart. Probably won’t be going back there, but Keegan and I got a laugh out of it!

Then we went to the heart of the fest, there were hundreds of people on walking around and sitting on blankets, soaking in the music from all of the talented artists. It was a very cool sight.

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At the end of the night, we went to Bragan Field to see their Double A baseball team-the Jacksonville Suns! (My friend Abby calls Keegan and I “Brigan” and I literally typed the field name as “Brigan Field.” Whoops.)

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This was a cool minor league stadium. The facility is fairly new and the grounds looked well kept. Even though our team was shut out, it was a beautiful night for a ball game!

On Sunday morning, we woke up early again and spent the whole day relaxing at Jacksonville Beach. As you know, I’m definitely a fan. It was hot and humid with some decent waves; my perfect kind of day. Keegan and I decided we are going to take surfing lessons in the next few weekends. Watch out for that!

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You probably thought this was going to be an epic shot of us surfing. Not yet.

Mid-afternoon, we took a break from the sun to go to World of Beer, which is SUCH a cool bar. It kind of reminds of Hopcat, though Keegan would kill me for saying that. Nothing could possibly rival, honey!

We took advantage of their breakfast and bottomless Bloody Mary special.

Holy cow. Us-1. World of Beer-0.

The special is only $19, and a drink alone is $12. Give me some bottomless Zing Zang and Tito’s vodka, and call it a win! As their name suggests, they are known for their beer selection. They have 50 craft beers on tap, and over 500 bottles. Their diverse drink selection and open atmosphere will definitely have us back again!

WOB

After (obviously) Ubering it home, we relaxed, and Keegan brewed up a new batch of IPA. It’s fermenting in our office closet right now. Weird placement, but he thinks this batch will be great!

We had an awesome weekend getting to know our city better and I can’t wait to keep exploring!

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to do a Wordless Wednesday post every week, where the post is a picture instead of a blog. You know I will include some commentary, but let’s see how this goes.

Xoxo mi love from jax

Books I’m Reading: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I’m only about 200 pages into the first book and already know I’m going to love the series. If you’ve read it-don’t spoil anything! My mom and Aunt Linda made me watch one episode with them, but it was the one where Jamie is in jail with Black Jack. AHHH. His hand! The nails! You are the most despicable, disgusting pathetic excuse for a man, Jonathen Randall! I could have puked.

Favorite New Florida Thing: The geckos. These things are everywhere, and I love them. They’re always jumping around from sidewalk to stick. From stick to grass. From grass rock. The little things have nothing to do, and they’re so entertaining. Much less reprehensible than Black Jack to say the least.

The Move

I need to preface this post by saying: we were so blessed at how easy our move was. Everything that could have gone well, did. We had no fiascos. No one stole our identities before we closed on the condo, and the Pod didn’t get run off the road sending all of our belongings into a blazing fire on the side of the highway (as my manager told me it might when preparing me for the “worst-case” scenario. Yeah thanks for that).

Here’s the move in a nutshell:

Saturday, April 11 the Pod was delivered to our apartment in GR, and the movers came. Somehow, two skinny little dudes organized our apartment and 3 years worth of junk into this shipping container. I’m talking everything from our couch and dressers to every single one of our wedding gifts. The container was packed full from floor to ceiling.

As soon as the movers were done, Keegan hit the road to drive to Jacksonville!

That week I lived as a nomad between my aunt’s and my best friend Abby’s (and her two adorable kittens. Seriously, add her on Snapchat and you’ll get the cutest little furball snaps all day).

On Saturday, April 18, I drove to my dad’s house, and he and I drove down to Florida together! At first I thought there was noooo way I would be able to mentally survive 18 straight hours locked in a car. The trip was actually one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever had. My dad and I talked for the majority of the car ride, and we spent some really great one on one time together. To no one’s surprise, we started a book on tape, too. (Kelly and Derek are so happy they weren’t there. When we used to road trip to DC or Chicago, I’d make them listen to books on tape with me, and they would literally try to kill me at rest stops.)

My dad and I made a stop in Charlotte, NC, to grab some food and sleep. We went downtown for dinner and found this awesome restaurant called Vapiano. They’re nationwide, and if you get the chance to dine there, do it. The chef prepares the food in front of you, and the walls are covered in quotes about wine, food, and Italy. Such a cool atmosphere.

My favorite quote on Vapiano's walls.

My favorite quote on Vapiano’s walls.

We woke up early the next morning to continue the second half of the trip. After nearly 1,200 miles, we arrived in Jacksonville!

A few hours before my dad and I arrived, Keegan had to take off for training in Chicago. But he had a welcome present for the two of us, and apparently now we are huge Gator fans:

I am not doing the Gator clap.

Oh, the Gator clap.

He also hid little Jacksonville-themed sticky notes all over the place:

The state of Florida is the "i" in the bottom note--just in case you couldn't tell! I mean, I totally got it when I saw it....

The state of Florida is the “i” in the bottom note–just in case you couldn’t tell! I mean, I totally got it when I saw it….

Those notes kept popping up!

Those sweet notes kept popping up!

We stopped at the St. Johns Town Center for dinner, and I will have multiple posts dedicated to that. It is a giant outdoor shopping center with every restaurant, bar, retailer, and bargain retailer you could hope for in one location. We had a blast driving around!

dad and me

Looking like locals in our new t-shirts.

My dad flew out the next day, so it was just me with an air mattress, one folding chair, and some eggs in the fridge. That was literally everything we had in the condo. Ahh, the simple life.

The next few days were crazy busy:

  • Monday: TV and internet were hooked up so I could finally start working remotely.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday: the painters came and painted the whole condo. It’s a very beachy, nautical feel, and we love it! (A New Leaf Painting-awesome! The place done in less than 2 days.)
  • Thursday: the movers came and unpacked that very full Pod. Up two flights of stairs. In 86 degree heat and high humidity. They hated me at the end. I bought them Dunkin Donuts so that counts for something. Right? (All My Sons did the move. I’d highly recommend them to Jacksonville people moving in.)
  • Thursday night: Keegan came home from training in Chicago! Yippee!
  • Friday to Monday: my mom and Tom flew into Jax to help us unpack!

Mom and Tom should consider starting an unpacking company. I’m serious when I say our 3 bedroom, 2 bedroom, 1400 square foot condo was completely cleaned, unpacked, and decorated after 3 days. All of the boxes! Done! I would sit crying on the kitchen floor and whining about where to put the serving bowls while my mom tried not to laugh and pulled me together.

Now here we are! Moved in and acclimating ourselves to our new Florida life.

Very soon post I’ll show you before and after pics of the condo!

Books I’m Reading: My dad and I started The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Don Thomason on the drive down. I just finished it, and it was pretty good. Sort of The DaVinci Codeesque. It starts out slow and the ending isn’t what I’d hoped for, but the detail to Renaissance history and how that drives the plot kept me satisfied.

I also recently finished The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and All the Lights We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Rosie was a great read! Very light and funny. The sense of humor is similar to The Big Bang Theory. I would highly recommend it if you need a break from heavy topics. Lights is a WWII story, and it was very well written. Doerr uses very descriptive language and uses multiple narrators. Heavy topic but enjoyable novel.

Favorite New Florida Thing: So cliche, but right off the bat, the weather. It’s hot, sunny, and beautiful every single day. Even when part of the sky was it was thunder storming today, the other half was sunny. I’ve never before seen lighting and bright sunshine all through the same window.

Xoxo mi love from jax

Jacksonville Beach

It’s finally the end of the day! Now that we have Monday out of the way, let’s reflect on how awesome the weekend was.

Keegan and I spent all day Saturday at Jacksonville Beach. It was mid 80s, low humidity, sun was shining: basically what every Michigander dreams of during the dreary winter. Keegan and I basked in the glory of the sun with our shades on and our stresses off. As fate would have it, we woke up on Sunday looking like a pair of lobsters. Burned everywhere. As my sister said, “You got rid of your Michigan skin. Once that peels off you’ll have Florida skin and never get sunburned again!” I like your thinking, missy.

Nonetheless, we had a great time at the beach, and here are a few pics so you can pretend you were there, too!

Our first run along the ocean.

Our first run along the ocean.

At one point, the man on the left was buzzing around on a motorized scooter flying this titanic kite, which could very easily haven taken out a small group of first graders. That was a definite first for me.

At one point, the man on the left was buzzing around on a motorized scooter flying this titanic kite, which could very easily haven taken out a small group of first graders. That was a definite first for me.

Come on. This is too good to be true.

Come on. This is too good to be true.

beer

Trying out a few brews at The Green Room.

Here we are back in heaven.

I’ll have a post up very soon about the craziness that was making the move to Jacksonville. Have a great night!

xoxo mi love from jax

Welcome to Jacksonville!

Well hello! I didn’t see you there. You must have just stumbled across my new blog: MI Jacksonville Life.

Last week, Keegan and I officially made the 1,139 mile from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Jacksonville, Florida. I thought I’d use this blog as a way to document this entirely new adventure outside of our “normal” and to keep in touch with family and friends back home so you can see our new normal.

Here’s a recap of why we made the move:

  • August 12, 1987: Sweet little Keegan Welsh was born in Cadillac, Michigan, where it snows 9 months out of the year. He quickly learns he is not a fan.
  • June 5, 2010: That sweet little Keegan grew into an extremely handsome man, met this silly girl named Brianna, asked me if I wanted to come over and watch the Tigers (duh), and we got married 4 years later.
  • 2011-2015: Keegan does insanely well at his role at W. W. Grainger and gets promoted a million times. He starts expanding his professional network throughout the US
  • Early February 2015: Keegan and I take literally 4 vacations in 2 weeks because we hate the lake effect snow for months on end, literally colder here than in Antarctica, white out driving and I’m probably going to run over that idiot driver going 3 mph on the highway kind of weather.
  • Early March 2015: Keegan interviews for a Manager of Territory Sales role in Jacksonville on Wednesday. Gets the offer on Thursday. We’re down in Jax next Friday to look at condos.
  • April 2015: We both make the drive from GR to Jax to begin our new life in Florida.

And that leads me to where I am now. Just a small town girl, living in a loooooo—oops. Sorry. That’s the local brew taking over. Two newlyweds starting a new, exciting chapter in our lives that I know will be filled with many fun adventures.

I’ll have more crazy stories about how we managed to make that move with less than 4 weeks in my next post.

xox mi love from jax