Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 5 of 2014

One of my favorite year end reflections is to see which blog posts got the most love. Here they are in the countdown:

#5: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

#4: My Little Sister's Engagement

#3: The Innerworkings of my Brain

#2: Blah

And the  #1 blog post of 2014...


December, Where Did You Go?

Well, I blinked and its almost 2015. Usually I'm ready to take down my Christmas decorations as soon as the event is over, but not this year. My tree is just now starting to smell like it is supposed to, I love staring at the lights, and I get lost in thinking about the stories behind each ornament. So sappy. At school, I knocked out some of my Pinterest crafts with the little ones. Pretty adorable. Since I have K and 1st this year, its fun to go back to the world where Santa is real, watching Polar Express, field trips to the mall for them to see Santa, and the loads of gifts they give just because you are their teacher.

I was ready for Christmas really early this year for some reason. I had my Christmas cards sent out on Dec 1 and most of my shopping done by then as well. My tree was set up early and all of the decorations were unpacked. Honestly, it made for a longer month because I didn't feel the regular hustle and bustle of the season. I'm not sure that I liked it. I sort of enjoy shopping closer to "go-time."

One of my favorite times this month was having a craft day over at my friend, Julie's.  She made hot cocoa and cookies, I brought over some cheese and crackers. We wore our comfiest yoga pants and no makeup. I painted her dining room tables and chairs while she made jewelry and Nicole cut up old t-shirts to make workout tanks. The movie Elf played in the background. I couldn't have asked for more.

The long awaited Christmas break finally began and I've been sleeping til 11:00 on most days. I can't tell you how much I cherish my sleep. This has been just the re-charge I needed. We kicked it off with my dad's birthday at Taca for some sushi and then to LuLu's Chocolate Bar where I (stop the presses) didn't order dessert. I was so full! We all had the best time & I actually convinced my dad to come to yoga with me. I'm sure the booze helped with my convincing and his consenting, but he has been with me twice since then!! I always love a yoga buddy.

Josh and I went to the Civic Center for some Christmas Eve ice skating. Thank goodness we came and went with no major injuries. He talked a big game before we got there saying that he was going to need room for his triple axle, then as we are getting on the ice he says he hasn't been ice skating since he was in high school. I guess it's like riding a bike because he picked it right back up. There was one time when he fell though.... sprawled out on his belly and it knocked the wind out of him. I tried not to laugh but when he looked up his eyes were as big as saucers. He just lay there stunned. That sure didn't stop him though because long after I retired the skates, he went back out for round two and stayed until the bitter end.  I think he was the only adult left on the ice trying to spin some tricks. Then on the way home we had to discuss technique. This happens after every sporting event he participates in: dissection of technique.

Christmas Day was perfect as always. Every year I feel incredibly blessed to have each person in my family there, happy and healthy. That was the best gift of all. As the years go by and everyone gets older, traditions start to change. For now, I am relishing in the last years of our 30- year traditions still going strong. So blessed.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Merry Christmas

Hope you have the Merriest Christmas Ever!

Caroline & Whelan 2014

(He was not merry this year)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Small Business Saturday

At this moment, I'm sitting on Josh's couch curled up in the comforter that I stole off the bed, freshly showered, mismatching pajamas, with his thick, black socks on because my feet were freezing. He's watching college football so I figured this would be a good time for blogging.

We had a long day of shopping around Savannah for "Small Business Saturday." Have you ever been to the Urban Poppy downtown? You have to check it out! It's owned by a very well-traveled and down-to-earth lady named Anissa. We spent more time talking to her than we did shopping. She and her husband mainly do wedding design/photography but she has a little shop on the side. Whenever wedding planning is in my future, she will be my girl. Her shop was like a botanical garden and I was in love. As a housewarming gift, I ended up getting my sister a little succulent plant in a teeny tiny grey ceramic holder. She wrapped it up in a cute brown paper bag with some fresh greenery and a striped canvas type ribbon. Adorable.

We also stopped into Cohen's Retreat to support the locals and I got a yellowish-green and cream swirly floral oven mitt to add to my sister's housewarming gift. (She needed kitchen stuff...) If you've never been to Cohen's, it is also a must. Not only does it have the most eclectic shops sectioned off into different rooms throughout the building, but its ALL LOCAL. The Restaurant at Cohen's Retreat is also one of my favorites. I've already nailed it down for where I want to go for my birthday in January. That will make my 4th visit if I don't go again before then.

Finally... I cannot forget to mention my other most beloved store in Savannah: Lily Bay Studio + Bazaar on Whitaker St. In a nutshell, its has vintage, handmade, and upcycled goodies. Its also the only store in Savannah that sells Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I couldn't live without it. The owner and I have struck up a little friendship because of my frequent visits!

Notice how I've only written 1 post per month since August. What happens in August? School starts. This is a testament as to how much it zaps my energy. I'm lucky to get in a monthly re-cap.

Until December!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Hi-Points

 I think its been the shortest month of the year, this October.  So much has been jam packed into it. All I can do is re-cap. This won't even do it justice, but for memories sake:

-I kicked off the month of October with a night of silly girl antics downtown for Kristi's 31st birthday. We danced to the Wobble and drank birthday cake martinis! Getting older really is fun!

-I've been painting my life away for my little side business, Dabble. [furniture painting] More on that later...but I can't complain! Its a stress reliever for me to paint. It clears my head. Here's a sneak peak of a few thing I've been doing: 

- In other news, I was bitten by a 6 year old. When I went to get a tetanus shot because of the bite, the Dr. said, "are they not feeding those kids at school?" He's got jokes. I have managed to go 8 years as a special education teacher with this being the first of my child related injuries. Could be worse....

Its also been a big month for birthdays: SHOUT OUT to my friends: Kristi, Lindsey, Margaret, Deborah & Katie. My grandmother and Josh's mom also share the same birthday on the 29th of October. But, the best birthday of grandfather, BOB, turned 80! Woo hoo!! I made him a book of memories from years past and we had an oyster roast at my parents house. So nice to have everyone there to celebrate. 

And, Grama doesn't eat oysters so she was the photographer. (She also probably thought she was being sly by staying out of the pictures. Wrong!)

And finally, I shamelessly tell you that yesterday was National Cat Day. Here's Whalen, loud and proud.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hostel in the Forest

This week Josh and I went to Hostel in the Forest with our friends Julie & Brandon. This place is meant to be an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. My ever unique friend, Mirek, told me about this place and he endearingly calls it, "The Hippie Forest." I could not have named it better myself.

Brandon and Julie are 2 very experienced campers and I think I bit off more than I could chew going on this trip with them. They laughed at the number of bags I had for the short time we would be staying. (I believe it was 4 bags along with two comforters and clean pillow cases). I took it with pride knowing that I would be prepared for anything that came our way. They would thank me later...

When we arrived in the woods it was steady raining. We were welcomed into this dingy dome shaped cedar shingled covered building that smelled of body odor and musk. A barefooted girl with very long dreads and armpit hair gave us the tour as well as the "do's and don'ts" for the weekend. She showed us where the bathrooms were located, which was: find a tree.....and if you have to do something more important, there is an outhouse where you put sawdust over your "droppings" where it turns back to the earth and is then used as fertilizer for their garden. Ask me how excited I was to eat dinner there after hearing that tid bit of news. I cringed when she got our linens out of the laundry room and carried them under her hairy armpit to the hut where we were to sleep. Thank God I brought my own.  She also told us without batting an eye that the lake was "clothing optional." 

There is a community fridge, but the rule is to label what is yours. Anything not labeled, its fair game for  the taking. Beer is allowed but it must be poured into one of their mason jars before consuming. I soon realized their mason jars were old glass bottles and jars with the labels ripped off. I tried really hard to stomach it, but all I could think about was whoever used it last probably didn't wash it very well. If you saw the people around this place, you would be scared too. I was a good sport and blocked it out of my mind as I drank the first beer, but later when we went to wash our jars, my fears were confirmed. For washing, there was a tub of slightly lukewarm water with a few old suds in one side of the sink and a tub of cold "clean" water for rinsing.  There were dirt particles floating around in the clean side. For the remainder of the trip, I did not drink anything unless it was from my personal water bottle that I am SO glad I decided to bring.  

We decided to check out the lake which led to some hiking trails. Sure enough, there was a naked couple doing cannon balls off the dock in the middle of the lake, in the rain. I was in disbelief and feeling very sheltered at that moment. Josh had to tell me to quit staring. We hiked about two miles through some thick brush
in the rain and had to dodge BANANA SPIDERS. They had those webs connected from branch to branch right in the middle of the trail. I made sure to hang back so that someone else could catch the web first. I can honestly say I do not know what I would have done if one of those things had gotten on me. It probably would've involved me shucking clothes, screaming, dancing around, and crying all at once. 

One neat part of the forest was the glass house. It was a yoga room with windows surrounding it and a huge mural painted on the floor. Incense was left up front to use at your own convenience. I gladly lit some to mask the musty smell of the place and we all practiced some sweet yoga poses. Even the boys. Goes to show what all can be done in a place with no technology. The rules state that if you are found using your cell phone in a common area, you will be thrown in the pool. The pool is green with lots of tadpoles. 

We wandered around a bit more and found the art room. It was filled with every kind of paint, chalk, marker, colored pencil, sticker, face mask, fabric, etc, imaginable, but there was nothing to on which to draw. So..... we used the floor. There were deep philosophical quotes all around, so Josh decided to add to it with one of his own. 

Before dinner time I opted to wash the forest off of me with a nice outdoor shower. It was a great idea, but I don't know what made me think that the water would be warm. It wasn't. Still, I felt so refreshed afterwards. 

In our hut, there were two rooms divided by a wall. Julie and Brandon's room was called "The Turtle," and ours was "The Mushroom." Speaking of mushrooms, there was a mushroom workshop going on all day at this place. I really have no idea how one can spend an entire weekend at a mushroom retreat, but there was a crowd of about 8 people who were loving it. 

A vegetarian family style dinner is cooked nightly by the staff at the hostel and the guests say thank you bywashing and drying the dishes, putting away the food, and sweeping the floors. When the dinner bell rang, we gathered on a big screened in eating area, held hands and formed a large circle. At this point, the staff led us in a moment of silence to listen to the forest followed by everyone going around the circle to say where they are from, and tell something for which they are thankful. I came very close to saying that I was thankful for a hot shower at home, but I quickly decided that some may take offense, so I decided to be thankful that I stayed free of banana spiders on our hike. Dinner was salad with honey vinaigrette dressing, veggie chili, and gluten free cornbread. 

After dinner the four of us took a stroll out to the lake to sit in the stillness and look at the stars. In the midst of the peacefulness, one of the staff members decided to go for a naked night swim all by himself like it was no big deal. It really wasn't because we couldn't see anything in the dark, but I would never have the guts to A) go swimming by myself in the middle of the night B) with no clothes on, knowing that strangers are hanging out on the shore. These people are wild and free and it is definitely enlightening to be a part of their world. Thank goodness it was only for one night. I am not cut out for such things. 

When it was time for bed, once again my over packing came in handy. I double pillow cased the pillows and had a big fluffy comforter that smelled like home, not like musk. Once I finally settled in, I fell asleep to the night noises of crickets chirping and frogs croaking. That part I love. I didn't stir again until the rooster crowed to wake me up. crowed all morning long until the whole forest was awake. I forgot to mention that there are ducks, chickens, and roosters everywhere. In the kitchen there is a basket of eggs for the taking. Everything is extremely self sufficient. 

For the morning we brought eggs, bacon, veggies, and cheese for Josh to make his famous breakfast skillet. The hard part was finding a clean skillet. We were offered one that was coated with burnt brownie crust from the night before. One of the staff members handed it over and said, "This one should be fine....just scratch it off" Thanks but no thanks. 

All in all it was time well spent- good wholesome fun. I can't say that I would love to do it again.....but I can check that one off the list! I don't mind camping...its camping with other people's germs that I am not fond of. Next time- it will be in a tent with a fire.

And here we are leaving. This is how a night in the forest make you feel...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My Little Sister's Engagement

Its a pretty huge my little sister is engaged to her boyfriend Ryan! They have been together for approximately four years now so we new it had to be coming. About 3 days prior to the main event, my mom called and told me that Ryan was going to propose on Friday and he wanted the family to be there. It was nothing out of the ordinary for my grandparents to come over because they are in town all the time. For Josh and me to randomly be at the house, we needed a little bit more of a plan. We decided that Grama and Bob would be in town visiting Aunt Shirley and they would want to take us all out to dinner at Driftaway. Not out of the norm. When Josh and I got to the house on Friday evening, Cathlin's first words were along the lines of: "Everyone is so dressed up..." I told her I had to come home and shower since I worked up a sweat at bus duty from school. She immediately decided she needed to change. While she was upstairs, Ryan showed up to the house with a box of macaroons and a letter. Since Cathlin was clearly out of sight, he lifted up the box just enough so we could see the sparkly ring stuck right smack in the middle of a macaroon.  I was freaking out because I didn't want her to walk downstairs in the midst of him showing everyone else the ring before he had even proposed.

When she finally made her way downstairs, we all tried to act as normal as possible. Mom said,  "Oh, looks like Ryan brought dessert..." Cathlin walked over to the macaroon box where the letter was placed on top. She glanced over at him and let him know that she would read it later. He made sure she read it NOW....not later. Trying to act as nonchalant as possible, I started blabbering on and on about how hungry I was as she read the letter, trying to pretend I didn't notice what was about to go down. I think it hit her mid-letter that something was up when she said, " I'm not even reading this right hands are shaking" It was about that time that Ryan has made his way over to her side as she slowly opened the box, he got down on one knee. Annnddd...that's when the waterworks started. She immediately covered her face and cried (happy tears of course!) and he took her hand and asked if she would marry him! It was just the best and I'm so glad we were there to experience it with them. My dad got the good stuff on camera. She was so shocked afterwards, but when she finally composed her thoughts, she asked who all knew?? Ryan's response was, "Everyone...and they're all coming over." She freaked again, and said...." HERE? They're coming, Here? I've got to change!!"So upstairs she went for the second wardrobe change of the night.  Ryan was so thoughtful to have planned it to where all the family and friends came over to our house afterwards where we had a surprise engagement party. 

Let the festivities begin!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Week with Nyla

It has been one crazy month. I feel June was super laid back and chill... July, not so much. One of those months were you don't know whether you're coming or going. The highlight of July was my week with miss Nyla. I got to keep this bundle of energy and imagination for a week while her mom, Shavin, went on vacation. A much needed vacation I soon realized after the 3rd hour with Nyla. The girl doesn't stop. I prepared for our week by making a meal plan and brainstorming some activities to keep her occupied. Little did I know, we would fly through nearly each one with time to spare. The week started bright and early at 7 AM on Wednesday.

I took Shavin to the airport and Nyla was mine. After chatting in the car on the way home, we swung into Whole Foods to pick up ingredients for lunch, Palmetto Cheese Pie with tomatoes and bacon. I struck out on that dish because she doesn't like "pork" bacon, only "turkey" bacon. We made the quiche together and I tried to trick her into only putting bacon on one side, but she is not one to be fooled. Anyway, she ate it in the end and picked out the bacon. After lunch she painted my toenails a lovely shade of frog green & then we went to the park where she showed me how she could hang upside down by her knees on the jungle gym and tried to give me a heart attack. I smiled through it but I had visions of her slipping, snapping her neck, and me having to break the news to Shavin. This is how my mind works. Of course she was fine....I over analzye any situation with a possibility of getting hurt.

Later we went to the library & got some Dr. Seuss books to read before bedtime. We also visited the humane society and drooled over all the sweet cats and dogs that we couldn't take home. A trip to the thrift store was also in order where she purchased her porcelain doll, Elizabeth, which was attached to her hip and bald by the end of the day from all the hair brushing that occurred. She did find an awesome pair of gold wedges for me and said that it was a gift from "Hattie Mae Pearl." (her imaginary old lady friend/spirit guide if you will) Nyla is a charater. For dinner, we met my sister at Bonna Bella then got fro yo at Lovin Spoons where Nyla almost gave my number to a complete stranger. Chatty Cathy she is. 

On Thursday morning I woke up to a knock on my bedroom door at 6:30 AM. Yep. The fun had begun for the day. After she coaxed me out of bed we had mini bagels with cream cheese and strawberries for breakfast, then headed off for the Jacksonville Zoo with my friend Julie. I'll use any excuse to go to the zoo...

Friday, I decided, was going to be low key. It had to be. The zoo completely took it out of me from the day before. SO HOT and lots of driving. We had smoothies for breakfast, then went to Michael's (craft store) to pick out an art activity. I thought this would be something she could do on her own, quietly. I was wrong. She picked a kit for making headbands and we made each one together. She requires every drop of attention one can muster. But she is so lovable that it is worth it. Probably one of the kindest children I've ever met. She could see the ugliest, dirtiest, human on the planet and pick out some kind of redeeming quality. "Oh, they have such pretty eyes!" I need to take a lesson from her. 

We went to my favorite boutique, Goodwill, to pass some time and I think she loved it as much as I do. We spent about an hour weeding through the racks of clothes and the girl has some serious fashion sense. I was truly impressed. Later we baked Snicker doodle cookies from scratch and that turned out to be nothing short of a mess.

That night we picked up a pizza and went over to visit Josh and Chloe. He has cable at his house, something that I could've desperately used this week, so thank God for that and a few hours of catching up on her favorite shows. It also helps that I enjoy watching Jessie on the Disney Channel as well.

On Saturday we went to see the movie Matilda which was playing at the Lucas Theatre on Broughton Street. It was 100 times better and cleaner than going to a regular movie theatre, it was cheaper, and it supports local. I believe I will do this more often. We also hit up the Savannah Mall to eat some Chik-Fil-A in the food court and go to the Butterfly Exhibit. I made a friend. Check out who landed on my shirt. Nyla was so sweet...she wouldn't touch the butterflies because she didn't want to be responsible for hurting them.

On Sunday, Josh picked us up and we went to church, which happened to be a super kid friendly service where Twinkies may or may not have been tossed into the crowd. It was the 10 year birthday celebration of LateChurch. We ate lunch in one of the squares, provided by the church then came back to the house to relax and debate with Josh- which is smarter, a cat or a dog? All while my hair was being braided. I think doing braids was one of her favorite past scalp felt it. 

Monday was pool day where we had swim lesson 101. She did a great job! Later, we did each others make up. Nice, huh?

The rest of our time before picking up her mom from the airport was filled with more hair braiding, full mani-pedi's, a walk at Lake Mayer, and dinner at Heiwas for some delicious Chicken Teryaki with loads of shrimp sauce.

I am fully exhausted, but glad I got to spend time with such a special little girl. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

30 Day Photo Gratitude Challenge (26-30)

Better late than never.

Day 26: Transportation (Not mine)

Day 27: Daily Routine: All my shower goodies

Day 28: Night Time 

Day 29: Light

Day 30: Self Portrait