Monday, October 25, 2010

Road Trippin' : Charleston

Over the weekend we escaped routine and drove down to Charleston. It's only 3.5 hrs away, and we'd been planning on heading there as soon as the weather cooled off some. With forecasts in the low 70's and no commitments over the weekend, we jumped at the chance!

We had dinner on the way down at Red Lobster. Funny how a normal meal can feel like such a treat to the critters. We let them have Shirley Temples with their kids meals and Gunnar remarked "We're the luckiest kids in the world, we're eating like Kings and Queens tonight!" I love it when they realize that they have a good life!

Pictured above is the Ravenel Bridge. It's a really dominant feature in the skyline there. I wish the picture could do it justice.

First stop, Fort Sumter. The kids were especially excited for the ferry ride.

Up to the museum, and docks on the other side of the building.

There was so much to take in from the docks, we took a lot of scenic shots.

We saw a message in a bottle while we waited for our ferry. Eagle-eye Savi, on the job!

The kids played on this little beach between the docks.

We watched the carrier ships come in to port. Each of those containers in the size of a semi, crazy huge! I told the kids, that's how we get all the things that are "Made In China" into the Walmarts. LOL

On the boat! The kids were up and down the stairs between levels, in and out of their seats so many times....but, oh so happy!

Our approach to Fort Sumter.

A view from inside the fort, with our ferry in the background. It was about a 40 minute trip to get there.The kids weren't ALL that interested in the history, but they sure did love exploring the canons and the fort itself.

Just outside the fort there was a lovely thicket and beach area. I love this shot with Sydney running and the rest of my peeps in the right hand corner...

Sullivan's Island and lighthouse in the distance. We watched a pod of dolphins play in the water here just off the fort too.

After a late-ish lunch in the parking lot we were off to check out Folly Beach. We love packing our lunch when we're on trips. It makes everything a lot less stressful because we don't have to worry about when and where to find food. We just stop whatever we're doing when we get hungry, eat, and move on to the next adventure.

There are MANY beaches in Charleston, but I really wanted to see Folly Beach because I recently read a fictional novel based there. My family lovingly obliged me..

Kite flying. It was quite windy there.

Evidence of an old pier.

Seashells! More to add to my collection. :) The big kids spent an hour hunting for sand dollars and playing with sand crabs.

Junebug spent that time doing THIS. She dug with shells and made sandcastles and soaked it all in. It was a glorious 72 degrees and breezy. We couldn't have special-ordered weather more perfect!

We had a quick dinner at Quiznos (thanks for the free kids meals, we LOVE that place) and headed to the historic district and battery.

We mostly drove through that area, but stopped at Battery Park and watched many brides being photographed by the river walk. It was the perfect time of day for it!

Gorgeous old Live Oaks.
Savi on a stack of cannon balls.

Gunnar on a cannon. (hee hee)

Confederate statues with gorgeous sunset...

It's so cool to see the sunset over the water on the East Coast...not used to that.. This is over the Ashley River, I believe.

We then went back to the hotel, went swimming then hung out in the hotel with popcorn, ice cream and a movie. We had been out and about for over 9 hours and it was nice to relax.

I think we could drive downtown to a hotel 25 minutes from home, hang out in a hotel and the kids would be just as happy with the vacation! They love hotel life!

The next day we only had 1 item left on the agenda: Aquarium! Our zoo membership gets us a discount, so we definitely wanted to get that in while we were in town.

We got to see some river otters at play in this area. It was fun because it was decorated for Halloween throughout the aquarium.

My kids are brave! They touched a snake. Gunnar happily told me that "it's not venomous, it'll just squeeze you to death". (tee hee)

They had a fabulous touchy-feely area. Syd's favorite is the starfish.

We also got to touch some sting-rays (barbs removed). They are a lot smaller than the ones we've seen before since we're on a different coast now. It's cool to see different species.

Loggerhead turtles. My favorite! Love this shot, looks like they're going to kiss.

We took a break midway through and went out to a little grassy area, dockside, for a picnic.

Gunnar was cracking me up with his love for his chocolate cupcake. (courtesey of Homewood Suites free breakfast, gotta love all those hotel points!!) Who eats chocolate muffins at breakfast!?!? We decided to take ours "to go" for later. Turned out to be PERFECT.

Savannah, on the docks.

The critters playing with the froggy band.

The penguin area at the aquarium left A LOT to be desired. If you are local and want to see penguins, your best bet is the Columbia Zoo....they have an amazing area. SC Aquarium, not so much. THIS was the CUTEST penguin there!

We love love love to get away together. I always have so many good memories from these concentrated times together as a family. I am so glad we've been able to subsidize some family time with points earned from Chris' travel over the years. It's good to have pErKs!

Friday, October 22, 2010

What's For Dinner?

Tale as old as time. True as it can be...

What Mom doesn't hear that same request most nights!?

And don't you LOVE it when your hubby says, "We're having Mexican? That's what I had for lunch!"

And then the kids chime in, "I hate tomatoes! Does that RED SAUCE have tomatoes in it??"

And then you start to say something about starving children in Africa and yelling something with the word INGRATES somewhere in the middle.

Sound familiar? Yes?


I found a really cool idea for a dry-erase menu board. And then I called my Vinyl Lady. Yes, I have one, don't you?


This is a 12 x 12 frame with scrapbook paper behind the glass (I got a few different seasonal sheets for about .59 each) and vinyl lettering on the top of the glass. Add a dry erase marker to add the menu selections on a weekly basis, and you're set!

Those are the ACTUAL meals we ate last week. It worked out really well. :)

I've always known that things go better with a plan, but now that I have this HANGING ON MY KITCHEN's not as easy to let things slide in that dept. anymore. Which makes everyone happier, including my grocery bill because I am not making last minute trips to pick up 1 ingredient and walking out with 10 THINGS!

This was the night we had Chimichurri Salmon. I made a Savory Quinoa side with it. It was DELISH!

Another idea I had this week was to let each family member pick one night that is THEIR CHOICE. It gets them really excited about their day, and on the nights that they aren't so excited about the menu selection, I can remind them that we all have our night coming up!

This week Gunnar chose Pancakes and Cinnamon Apples. Savannah chose Veggie Spaghetti. Sydney chose Pizza Night!

Banana Button Pancakes (whole wheat) from last week...

Such as easy thing, yet so LOVED by my little ones. I think this will be on the menu all season!

Cinnamon Apples

3-5 apples, peeled, cored and sectioned
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cinnamon
1tbsp sugar
dash of water

Melt butter in saute pan, dump in apples on high heat and stir to coat in butter. Saute 2-3 minutes and add water, sugar and cinnamon, stir another 2-3 minutes, lower heat, cover until soft. Serve hot.

Do you have a Dinnertime Secret Weapon?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


We've had skies like this, but not much rain. I love dramatic skies.

Sydney has a new friend to swing on tummies with. Our Aussie-Argentine next door neighbor, Gregorio...aka GREAT-OREO. (I can't stop laughing whenever she calls him this)

Crazy girl!

I've been cooking lots of yummy food. Here is my go-to, Tikka Masala. My favorite part of the whole process is RIGHT HERE, where the magic happens...all the spices come alive. Enameled Cast Iron rocks my world.

Much like the weather can't decide whether it's summer, spring or fall, my hydrangeas are a little confused too. Not only have they bloomed again because of the hot temps, they can't decide which color they should be, either.

But I am NOT complaining. My favorite bouquet, EVER.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tree Huggers

It's no secret to anyone we know that we love trees!

Any planting of trees around here usually starts with Chris and his amazing ability to research and design the best landscaping for any space you put in front of him. He knew that we wanted Green Giant Arborvitaes (Thujas) for the South screen last Spring, around the time he was planting the other natural fence on the North side of our yard. They are deer, disease and bug resistant...not to mention beautiful. They are also pretty pricey, since they offer all of these benefits.

Luckily, we had time to think about it and try to find some good deals. The price point was even more of an issue since we knew we needed 22 of the same type of tree. He wanted to put them in during the cooler days of September. (..although it wasn't very cool with all the highs in the 90s going on and we were hoping for some rain too so the ground wouldn't be so hard to dig the holes...)

Long story short, we called our favorite Grower's Outlet repeatedly expecting a shipment of 7 gal. trees on and off for over 2 months. They never came in.

It was the last day of September and we were starting to get stressed about what we were going to do. The very next day, the Manager at Grower's Outlet called and offered us the very trees we needed, but in 15 gal size, FOR THE 7 GAL PRICE! You have to dig HUGE holes for these, but we jumped at the offer. Taller trees, more privacy, right away!

And so it began, a 2nd job for Chris in the evenings. He predug 5 holes and was able to get 5 trees in the ground that first day. And averaged about 3 more every day after that. He would get home from work, change, have a snack and work until the sun went down. I am still amazed that his body didn't quit on him. SUCH HARD WORK! (and lots of muddy socks, pants and shirts)

This was Day 2...I decided I'd better get an "in-progress" picture. ;)

After they were planted, a little trough was dug around the root-ball and some really yummy cedar mulch was put down to encourage the roots to shoot out toward the native soil. I helped do this one night, unfortunately I was battling some sort of bug during the bulk of the planting and couldn't help out much. (I did manage to keep an eye on the kids and make dinner though...)

The weather was in the low 70's in the evenings most night and the kids had a blast swinging from the pile of mulch bags on our natural vine swing. It's like a regular Tarzan party back there!

Just about done. I think there were 2 trees to go on the end of the line (far right). Here is the view between the homes, from the back of our house.

And here is the view from the front with ALL 22 of them in. Chris will put in a Deodar Cedar near the front of those trees in the Spring. BONUS: Now our playground is no longer visible from the street!

We really love and appreciate the beauty that trees and shrubs bring to our yard. It feels very personalized now! Chris has put in 36 trees and 12 shrubs in the last 10 months! We love our King Tree Hugger!