Monday, February 27, 2017

A Tale of Two Journeys

The weekend after my trip to Florida offered even more stunning weather. Mom called and asked if we wanted to meet them out at Clark's Hill Lake for the day. We eagerly agreed and planned out a picnic lunch. Unfortunately, Jeff ended up having to go into work for the morning, so the kids and I made the trip without him.

The inlet Mom and Berk ended up at in West Dam was right across from the Augusta Sailing Club, which made for some beautiful views as the boats took to the water.

Rali, McKinney, Joe, Selah, Kaity and Lauryn spent their time exploring the area.

One of the stunning views from our picnic table:

Berk grilled up burgers for us. I brought potato salad and mint chocolate brownies. Mom took care of everything else!

"Please don't get your clothes wet, kids, I didn't bring extras!" Riiiight.

This brave little (huge) duck was pretty aggressive in his belief that we should be constantly feeding him tidbits. You can tell by how close he is to me that he had no fear!

Lauryn, on the other hand, had plenty of fear to go around! She buried her feet in the sand and then announced, "Now the duck can't get my feet!"
We ended our trip by meeting up with Jeff's parents at Dairy Queen before going back home.

Meanwhile, Jeff had gotten off of work, and knowing he couldn't make it out to us in time, headed north into the mountains instead! It was too gorgeous of a weekend to waste.

Here's Gandalf, basking in the perfect autumn scenery:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Fall in Fernandina

Last fall, I took a wonderful trip down to Florida to visit family and just to enjoy some peace and quiet! I've never done anything like it before, but I was inspired by a friend who makes it a priority to carve time out to recharge her batteries. It seems contrary at first glance, though in reality I found that it definitely refocused me and I was a better mama when I returned! My first stop was Blackshear to see my beloved Granny. She, my aunt Belinda and I went to lunch together, then Granny and I spent the afternoon rocking on the front porch and enjoying good conversation.

This is the Pierce County courthouse, where my grandparents were married back in 1955.
I had to get on the road, though, and head down to Jacksonville for dinner with my Aunt Kim and Uncle Tim, their two adult children and respective fiances. The funny thing was, I thought I'd picked some obscure weekend in October to make my trip but I was completely oblivious to the football season. Turns out it was the Florida-Georgia game weekend. In Jacksonville. Grr. I guess living in Athens isn't enough to keep me informed! Anyway, traffic wasn't as terrible as I'd anticipated, and I had some great company in the form of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on audiobook. Following a fun dinner with some of the Floyd crew, I headed back north to Fernandina to stay the night with Uncle Mike and Aunt Ede.

First thing in the morning, I drove downtown, straight for T-Ray's. Y'all, I was not counting calories on this trip. (Not that I ever do anyway.) But that Scrambler was amazing! Bisuit, scrambled eggs, sausage, gravy, cheese ... My arteries are still sluggish from it.

My view from T-Ray's porch.
The first thing I did after breakfast was park Claire and start walking! I couldn't have asked for a more gorgeous weekend to be outside exploring. So naturally I went to the library.

We used to walk from Granny's house to the library all the time. I loved the black and white tiled sidewalks and the concrete goldfish containers along the way.
I basically spent the entire morning walking wherever my feet took me, along the streets and over to the harbor, across the railroad tracks and back. Not having gotten enough of books at the library, I meandered my way through a downtown book store, too, picking up a couple of souvenirs while I was at it.

Seriously, the weather was fabulous!
 I ended up eating a late (much lighter!) lunch at The Patio Place.

 I found the bench at the marina inscribed with Uncle Francis's name, and sat there for a while, writing and daydreaming and watching a lone sailboat out on the water. (At that time the docks were still closed from the hurricane so it was otherwise deserted.)

About that time, I got a call from my great aunt, Joni, letting me know she was home and I could come by whenever. I spent a couple of hours with her and Uncle Ken, listening to their stories and telling my own. When dinner rolled around, I met up with Mike and Ede along with Ken and Joni at Moon River Pizza. Joni couldn't resist teasing Mike with her Florida Gators jacket!

The drive home the next morning was livened considerably by Rosamund Pike's incredibly well-done audio version of P&P.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Selah's Seventh Birthday - Frozen!

Every year, our kids get a choice on whether they want presents from Mom and Dad or a birthday party. If they choose presents, I may do a special birthday dinner and a dessert, but no big party. If they choose party, we have a cake and friends and we give them just one little something to unwrap.

This year, Selah chose a Frozen party!

The cake was a simple white cake with pale blue buttery cream cheese frosting, white fondant snowflakes and a white chocolate "Selah". 
I used blue Jell-O on the inside to make it pretty.
Kaity sculpted Olaf from white fondant, and we made his arms, legs, and features out of chocolate. His nose is a sculpted candy corn.
The party favors were baggies of marshmallows, pretzel sticks, chocolate chips and a candy corn, so that guests could build their own snowmen at home.

I kept the food pretty simple.

The punch was just blended blue Hawaiian Punch and Sprite with "snowballs" of vanilla ice cream. The ice cubes are just blue Jell-O, and that's a dish of Olaf's Warm (Hershey's) Hugs!

A little nod to Hans and Anna's duet here!
I certainly didn't plan it that way, but it worked out really well to be able to recycle a lot of the decorations and accessories from Kaity's party to use for Selah's.

The beautiful birthday girl! Our little Selah. It's hard to believe she's 7 already.

Of course, Lauryn had to wear her Anna dress!

As a very special treat, we hired a friend of Kaity's to be Queen Elsa! Alyssa does various characters for events in our area and she was amazing! Here, she is blindfolding Selah to play Pin the Nose on Olaf.

After the game, Elsa sang a song with everyone - "Let It Go!" and later, "Do You Wanna Build A Snowman?"

The girls made bracelets with the beads Elsa brought from Arendelle. The boys made snowmen with googly eyes and cotton balls.

Singing "Happy Birthday!"

Queen Elsa and Princess Selah!

...and little princess Anna, too!
Kaity and her friend ...

And we made Joe do it, too.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bookworm Birthday Party, Take Two

When Kaity and I started talking about plans for her 16th birthday party, there was only one theme that kept rising to the top - books! I did a book-themed party for her second birthday, and wrote about that on Barefoot in the Kitchen.

Be prepared for lots of pictures! As always, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Kaitlyn sweet-talked the librarians into giving her some library checkout cards to use for party invitations:

Kaity and I were especially excited about the sign we made for the door!

(Tolkien reference, for those who aren't familiar.)
Kaity wrote out all the signs for the dishes we served. She looked up fonts specific to each story so that they would match.
References, left to right, top to bottom: Lord of the Rings, Strawberry Girl, The Grapes of Wrath, I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato, James and the Giant Peach, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Kaity's favorite birthday cake, Aunt Jan's Chocolate Cappuccino Cheesecake! It is rich and decadent and worth every minute, every penny, every calorie. I topped it with whipped cream, fondant flowers, chocolate-covered espresso beans and Sixlets.

We decorated the hallway with floating candles, just like the Great Hall at Hogwarts! They're made with fishing line, toilet paper/paper towel rolls, tape, and battery-powered tea lights.

And speaking of Hogwarts... Kaity dressed up as Bellatrix Lestrange! She wore two of my dresses, and I braided her hair the night before so it would be kinky and wild. Add in some dark make-up and she was spot-on!

She was cracking herself up trying to channel her inner Bellatrix. I told her to pretend like she was annoyed with Joe.

We played a few games, one of which was to guess which book matched the first lines Kaity had written out.

Here you can see a few girls dressed as characters from the Narnia series, Percy Jackson, and Harry Potter.
The food! (In the background, you can see two girls wearing "robes" - they're Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White.)

The butterbeer was delicious! By the time I took pictures, it was all gone. I mixed a jar of butterscotch ice cream topping with vanilla ice cream and cream soda. It was tooth-achingly sweet!

Another game the girls played was to write a story. Kaity wrote the first line, then passed it to the next girl and wrote the next line, and so on until it made its way around the circle. Another party guest started a story, too, so we had two going around. They were quite silly!

Party decorations ... It's hard to tell, but this is Kaity's initials - KGP.

(Man, my wall really looks yellow, here! But as you can see above, it's gray.) The banner is a cheap one I picked up at Target, and we embellished it with book page triangles, curly ribbon and twine.

Opening presents!

Our gift to Kaity was a scavenger hunt for little gifts, leading up to a card with cash inside. Her first clue led her to "the Dalek shelf" where she found a Whovian bookmark, a Doctor Who calendar, and these, which I couldn't resist buying!
Tom Baker is my favorite "classic" Doctor - and the first one I remember watching. He was known for offering people Jelly Babies.
In this picture, the girls are trying to solve a word search to find the clue to the next gift.

That led her to the cupboard under the stairs, where she found Bertie Botts' Every Flavor Beans (another Harry Potter reference), and a riddle ...

 ... which led her outside to Gandalf, where she found a puzzle book and another clue.

Back up the stairs! It felt a little like the movie Clue, with Tim Curry.

This clue led her to a Pride and Prejudice themed gift and some jumbled Scrabble tiles which (when arranged) spelled out ...

And Kaity recognized that immediately as a reference to the TV show, Psych, and found her card with cash in between the DVD sets.

Birthday Cake! 

In the basket in the background of this picture are the party favors. Kaity made bookmarks for each girl and we filled the bags with aqua and gold candies and a traditional party noisemaker.

All told, it was a lovely, fun, tasty 16th birthday party for our little Kaity-Kaity.