Personal (16) Rving (8)

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Lot Changes In A Year (It's our 1st year anniversary)

Today one year ago we locked the doors on our house, said goodbye to everything and pulled our new fifth-wheel, named Falkor after the Luck Dragon, out of our driveway and drove 20 minutes to our first RV park. That was one of the most thrilling and terrifying days of my life. There's nothing quite like driving behind your new home for the first time onto the Highway of Complete Unknown. Leaving everything you've ever known for something brand new is a scary thing to do.  

It was TOTALLY worth it. 

I have thought about what it would be like when we reached our year anniversary for a long time. . . about a year actually. Where would I be in one year? Like where would I physically be? I mean I wondered where I would be emotionally and stuff but I had no idea what state I'd be in. I don't think I would have guessed Massachusetts, hiding inside from a army of bionic caterpillars.

It's really hard to know where to start. Our home has been pulled for 8,000 miles. We've stayed in 44 campgrounds. Our truck has traveled 15,000 miles total, which gives us around 7,000 miles of day trips to the 120+ waterfalls, lakes, monuments, historical sites, museums, mountains and World's Largests. We've been to 79 cities, 34 cemeteries, and 24 states (and one walkabout over the Canadian border.)

That's pretty darn crazy.

The only thing that keeps me remembering them all is the magnets that we've collected from each place that we place on the walls. I love to gaze at them all while cooking and remember all the things we've seen. It's like our own customized wallpaper. I've also been collecting pins from everywhere that I have pinned up next to my bed that are the last thing I see and night and the first thing in the morning. 

In August 2013, right after we decided to do this, we made a video where we took turns answering questions like "What are you excited about?" "What do you think you'll miss?" "What are you nervous about?"(Tiny Gwyn was nervous about seeing a bear.) "What did you do to get ready this week?". We watched that video last night and it was so much fun to see what we were right and wrong about. We came up with a bunch of questions and we're going to interview each other today to celebrate. Maybe I'll bake something yummy too.

This has been the happiest year of my life and I'm really excited and eager for what's to come in the next year. What will we see? What memories will we make? What trouble will we run into? Happy Anniversary to us! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

This Isn't A Practical Post

Sit down kids, I'm going to tell you all a little story . . .

So there's this episode of Xena: Warrior Princess where Xena and Gabrielle walk into the ancient Greek bar that's full of thugs. Gabby walks in first with Xena following and Gabby is talking nonstop, completely in her own world, ordering a drink before she walks over to an empty table. Unbeknownst to her, all the thugs have decided that these two ladies might be fun to pick on, so they start coming one by one. Xena nonchalantly knocks them out, smashes heads and even blows fire before sitting down with Gabby. Xena even kicks one of the thugs over her shoulder. With her leg. Backwards. It's pretty sweet. And throughout all this chaos, Gabby has no idea what danger she might have been if Xena hadn't been there with her. 

I am Gabby. 
Absolutely adorable, ammirite? 

I've always been a Gabby-like-character (early season Gabby, early season Willow Rosenberg. . . maybe I'm just still in my early season? When do I get my costume change?)
 . The innocent one among my friends. Usually it's not a bad thing, I don't mind at all! That's who I am and I like me. I'd rather be thinking about the good in humanity and I'm always at home so I'm never in danger of reality. Or if I do go out it's with a parent to act like my Xena (With less flexibility).  
But lately I've been starting to wish that I had the skills/knowledge/confidence/whatever to be able to go out by myself and not feel like I'm going to be completely clueless about what's going on around me. But I don't even KNOW what it is that I need to work on to gain the confidence for myself and my family to let me out into the world. Do I need to learn some sort of physical self defense? How to talk to strangers? Spot a thief? Spot a new friend? What? I don't know! What skills do I need? How do I learn them? Do I need to find some badass warrior princess to adopt me and teach me her ways? Do I need to finish watching Xena? (Yes. The answer to that is Yes.) 
I can't stop watching him shrug. . .

(side note: I don't actually know how to drive to go anywhere on my own. I'm still at the stage of thinking about the less practical sides of adulthood. This isn't a practical post.) 

I'm not even sure what it is I want to go out and do. Go to concerts? Go dancing? Go to a movie? Go sit in a cafe? (I need a new digestive tract if I want to do that.) It's probably hard to figure out the answer my questions since I don't have a particular goal, besides just having some sort of freedom in self-confidence. I'm not looking to move out or anything, I am very happy with where I am, exploring the country and seeing all these amazing places with my family. I just think that sometimes it might feel nice to be able to go explore something on my own and not feel like I need a bodyguard constantly. 
Maybe I'm being too romantic about it all, I'm probably not going to sit in a cafe and meet a super cool hippie person and we have a great conversation and then become great friends. But does it really hurt to be that hopeful with humanity? I just want to get out there and make some people smile and spread good karma but do it in a safe, smart way so I'm not on the receiving end of someone's bad karma. Because as much I believe that spreading love means you'll receive love I don't want to be caught unawares when it doesn't work that way.  

I thought that maybe if I spent some time writing out my thoughts and sharing them that either I'd come up with an idea myself  or someone else might have some advice. Does anyone have any good advice on where to start with anything I've talked about? How do I become a kind, gentle, dorky warrior princess? (I stretch every night, I'm going to perfect that backwards-over-the-shoulder-kick, I swear.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Love Letter to Charleston

So out of the 9 months we've been on the road, we've now spent two of those months in Charleston South Carolina, which when you think about it, is a pretty long time for us. I love this town so much; there is something about the atmosphere here that has completely captured my heart and soul from the first time I walked around downtown. 

I was recently writing to a friend and she asked about Charleston and I ended up going on and on about it, telling her about it here and how much I love it. So this is my love letter, my master post, my introduction to Charleston South Carolina for those of you who might not know about this little corner of history and beauty.

Let's start with the basics. 

SC flag
The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
 Palmettos. The state tree. If you haven't heard of them before, they're just shorter palm trees and they are everywhere! It's a pretty cool site to see wild palm trees, growing everywhere. In California I've only seen them when they've been planted in rows. 

Charleston saw the beginning of the Civil War. The first shots were fired at Fort Sumter which is a little island  not too far off the coast. Little Known Fact: It's actually a man-made island. It took around 30 years of dumping rocks and stuff into the ocean to build it up! A lot of modern day Charleston is man made, years of filling in the ocean and making more land.  When we went to The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon we visited the place where they rediscovered the original seawall. It's now 3-4 blocks away from where the modern day seawall is but it's so easy to imagine you're standing and looking out on the ocean when you're actually in a dark dungeon, looking down at the old wall with seawater still slowly rising up under the building. 
The original seawall

The King of Bling and me
It was originally called Charles Town after King Charles II. If you know anything about Charles the Second, it explains a lot about the vibe the town gives off.  Horrible Histories called him the King of Bling (you're welcome). 

Pirates are fun characters in Charleston's history. Once in May 1718 Blackbeard held the entire port hostage. They captured ships and held the prominent citizens hostagethreatening to remove their heads if he didn't get the medicine he needed. The town cooperated and he sent two pirates and one of the hostages into the town to receive the drugs from the governor. Blackbeard gave them two days to get the drugs and get back to the ships. The retrieval crew was delayed due to their ship sinking on the way into town and the two pirates getting "lost" A.K.A discovering some old friends in a tavern. Once Blackbeard had his medicine he gave all the ships and hostages back and fled the scene. Oh yes, the medicine he so badly needed? Mercury to treat his syphilis. Uhuh. Pirates. *eyeroll* 

Brief histories next the the front doors
This town loves its history. There are tons of walking tours, horse carriage tours, self guided tours that are all very well organized. You have to go through some serious training to be a certified tour guide and if you're a guide you have to wear a badge to show you're certified. There are tourism enforcers who ride around on bikes and make sure no one is giving a tour without a badge. It's very important to them that the correct history is being taught, not some yahoo making up stories. The streets are kept clean by constant crews. I've never seen a place that's kept up so nicely. 

My love is mainly for the downtown area of Charleston. There's obviously a lot more modern areas with shopping and fun stuff like that. But it's the downtown area where most of the buildings were built in the 16-1700s.  A lot of the houses have brief histories next to the front doors so that you can read and give yourself a self-guided tour of the downtown area.
Broad Street
Did I mention the town is
still lit by GAS LAMPS
 But the whole historic downtown just gives off this vibe of comfort for me. This town has survived war and earthquakes, it's burned to the ground multiple times, it gotten smashed by hurricanes and it's all still there. They take a lot of pride in themselves but not in a vain, arrogant way. More like confidence. It's so hard to describe it with just words. It's graceful, refined, genteel, classy, elegant, well- mannered. It's posh but not in an off-putting way. It blends the old and the new so smoothly. Like for example, when Mom and I were walking around the other day, a snazzy Prius drove by blaring pop music. It just fit in perfectly, driving past all the old houses, through the groves of ancient oak trees. It wasn't surprising or out of place at all, it was just normal and perfect.  In most places when there are a bunch of super duper rich people nobody likes them. "Ugh, rich people, they're so snobby and rude." But here they're not. Here they are the great-great grandchildren of the families who built all these houses. These families have been living here since the town was founded in 1670! They have been putting their best suits on to go to church every Sunday with each other, generation after generation. Those elderly women walking to church together have likely been doing this weekly since they were little girls.
The 1st and one of the last
Huguenot chruch
Once, I swear I heard an elderly man addressed as "Your Excellency" in front of the Huguenot church.  They are "Your Excellencies" and "Madams" and "Sirs" and they know it. But they're not going to shove it in your face. They're going to "Sir" and "Miss" you back and genuinely wish you well and walk back to their fancy cars and wave pleasantly as they drive back to their 300 year old mansions. And you're going to feel so happy for the rest of the day. But it's not just the rich folk that will treat you like that; EVERYONE in this town calls everyone "M'am" and "Sir" and is so welcoming, kind and well-mannered. 

Downtown is split into two areas. South of Broad Street (SOB) and Slightly North Of Broad (SNOB). Each street has it's own personality and mood. If you've lived here long enough I think that you'll learn what each street's personality is. I don't quite understand them all but I want to. I read a book that's about a haunted house in Charleston, where the characters would be like"ohh you live on TRADD STREET?! how posh!" "Oh yes I'm up on King Street, so hip!" "Montagu street? much class!"  

Most of the houses cost millions of dollars, because not only do you have to buy them, but then they have to be renovated so they don't collapse. Everything you do has to go through a committee to ensure historical accuracy. Every detail must then be approved and then all the work has to be done by hand. Sanding floors, chipping paint, replacing carpet, everything! It's not a project for the faint of heart or the poor.  There is a huge demand for skilled craftsmen to work on these houses. 

You can tell some places are totally haunted. Not in the movie-style-actually-seeing-ghosts way but in the vibe that the bricks give off. The bricks that make up almost all the buildings were made by hand (slave hands, which, granted, is way less romantic). They still have fingerprints in them! Seriously, if you look hard enough you can find hand prints in the bricks, it's so cool!  I think the bricks of Charleston could be like Warehouse 13 artifacts. They have a tragic, personal history and they've been imbued with magic. 

 When I last walked downtown, I walked by The Elizabeth Williams house. I became enamored with it as soon as I saw the "for sale" sign. It's not as large as some of the houses around it. It still has the "kitchen house" (old kitchen + slave quarters) in the back, which is the perfect size for 2-3 people to live in. The front house is two stories and it has a garden that at one time was designed by an apparently-famous gardener. It's all covered in weeds and needs a lot of work but I love it. The front gates were open so Mom and I carefully snooped around the yard. We looked in the windows of the back quarters and you could see the original hearth (built late 1700s). I nearly died of excitement. It's so haunted. It's like you could almost SEE the men and women walking around. You couldn't see them, not really, but you could tell where they would be and almost feel them. It's so magical and while I was there it completely captured my heart. If you lived there I'm sure that you would become friends with the ghosts there. I'm going to need like $6 million to even make it livable. Which will probably never happen, but a girl can dream right? 

Panorama of the Elizabeth Williams house

I'm sad to be leaving here already (we're coming back in like 2 weeks). This is the first place since we moved from Whitehawk California when I was 13, that I've truly felt at home.

 I would live here in a sticks&bricks house in a heartbeat if it meant I could drive over the Ravenel Bridge and see the church spires everyday. I didn't even talk about the churches or cemeteries (they're amazing!) but I'll save those for another love letter. 

Dearest Charleston, you have bewitched me body and soul. I love your history and your class. I love your beautiful trees and window boxes, your quiet alleys and your spirit and magic! Until we meet again (coughcoughin2weekscough)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Why I Like To Cook So Much

I've been wanting to write on here lately and I had no idea, no sudden inspiration of what to write about. So I asked some of my friends and I got a question about my favorite subject! (warning: this will be rambling and lovey-dovey).

 Why Do You Like To Cook?

First let me talk about some of my ideas and philosophies about food.

To me, food is the most important part of our lives and I think that we should treat it accordingly. I believe that food is the glue to any culture, the way to learn about people, to connect with others, to take care of oneself, to show love to another person, to do ANYTHING you need food. We die without it! Mealtimes shouldn't just be a time to keep oneself from dying, they should be a time to enjoy the senses of taste, smell and sight and to focus on how lucky we are as humans to be able to enjoy food. It should be a time to sit down, take a rest and be kind to your body. Eating should be a time to talk to your family and friends and bond. Eating should be a time to focus on making our bodies and souls healthy and happy. 

Look at some of the European countries. In some places, everyday in the afternoon the people still close businesses spend hours bonding and eating beautiful, fresh, healthy food. They make food a priority. They've been doing it for hundreds of years and look how healthy and happy they seem to be. I think that is so beautiful and important.

There are foods all throughout history that are only made specifically for particular events. In Greece they make a beautiful braided bread on Easter called Tsoureki and in Crete, they make a gorgeous decorated bread that is given to a new couple on their wedding day (don't get me started on the importance of bread; I'll save that for another time). Also, in some places in Greece, when you have a guest over you offer them what's called Spoon Sweets. It's a spoonful of some kind of fruit preserve or sometimes a vanilla nougat that you serve with black coffee and a glass of water. (I have a really awesome Greek cookbook that I read a while back that really inspired me on this subject in particular.)

  There are special traditional dishes all over the world. And to think about how cool it is that people in these traditional cultures have been making these specialties for hundreds of years! When I find a recipe from long ago and recreate it, all of the sudden I can taste, smell and experience what people ate years ago in the past! What a way to connect to history!

 But look how we eat in America, in our modern western culture. We have poisoned our food. We fry stuff to the point of no return, we scarf it down with no ceremony or thought for our poor bodies, we consume individually instead of eating communally as a tribe.  And look how unhappy, sick and lonely we are. Mostly people of my generation don't even know how to cook the most basic meals. It's not their fault; they were never taught by their parents as children.  But where along the way did we, as a society, lose such a valuable and basic skill, left helpless in the knowledge of how to care for our most basic needs?

You go Mom!
Both of my parents know how to cook (and are really good at it!) so I've grown up watching and learning from them my whole life. They've always included me in the kitchen: Mom making homemade spanakopita while nursing me with one arm, Dad telling me the secret ingredient to his Special Sauce when I was little, baking chocolate chip cookies with the recipe off the back of the chocolate chip bag with my Dad and my brother when Mom was out for the day.

I started making dinner once a week when I was around 9 with Thane (aged 4-ish helping me). It was just super basic tacos (cook the meat, heat up a can of beans, eat the whole can of black olives before dinner, grate the cheese) but I think that was really important in helping along my love of food. I now make dinners most days of the week and do a majority of the cooking/baking and I love it. Being able to feed my family with a hot meal from scratch makes me feel really powerful and fulfilled. Feeding people is how I show my love for them.

Ironically, much of the cultural richness I just described is not available to me at all, which maybe adds to the allure of it all. We want most what we can't have, right? I have a plethora of food allergies and auto-immune issues (along with most of my family) so we now can only eat what we've prepared ourselves. We can't ever eat out or buy pre-made packaged foods without a high risk of us getting sick or having some reaction. It can be pretty annoying sometimes, especially when it comes to socializing with people. I can't just go out and eat lunch or get coffee and pastries with a friend. I have to bring my own food, which for some reason makes things uncomfortable, even though it really shouldn't.

Which leads to my last installment of Why I Like To Cook So Much.

Since I have such a hard time eating out and actually loving what I love so much about sharing food, it's inspired me to want to fix it. I want to create a place where people who have the same problem as me can have a safe place to bring their friends and have food to eat and not have to worry about getting sick. I want to create a place where people who have new allergies and are drowning in trying to suddenly learn how to cook so they don't become sick can come and get help and be taught how to cook and how to take care of themselves in a warm, loving environment. I want to create a community based on bonding over allergy-friendly food where everyone is invited, not just people who can eat food without worrying over allergic reactions. I want to run my own Teahouse/coffeehouse/bakery that will be full of foods and treats safe for every possible combination of allergies, and delicious enough for people without allergies to enjoy, too. I want to make it more than just a place to eat though, I want to create a space where new mamas can come and nurse their babies and feel like the ones being pampered for a change. I want to create a space where young people can hang out and meet over a cup of tea and cookies, play music, read poetry or share other artsy skills. I want to create a place where you can come in groups and knit and book-club or plan a flash mob or anything. I want to be the owner of the store who knows everybody's name and what their daily order is before they even get there. I want to be the aunt-like owner who can help anyone with any problem whether it be with food, or your garden, or a lost stitch, or a fussy baby (I'll have little bowls of soft treats for the baby to play with while you talk to your friend!) I like to imagine being surrounded by a lot of babies, I can't help it. :) I want to have random acts of kindness start in my community that spread to a nation-wide act of kindness. I want to run it with my whole family and teach my children how to cook and be kind to people and bring them up in that kind of safe, generous, beautiful community where they have lots of grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends always there to support them. I want to create a really cool, safe, magical community.

 My only problem is I want to give everything away for free, and what I have planned is going to cost a lot of money. What I need to do is win the lottery!

The bright side of having so many allergies and food issues myself is that i has given me (and my mom) a lot of experience and practice for helping other people someday. We're becoming quite the experts in food allergies and how to deal with them!

It felt so good to write that all out! I hope to be able to cook for YOU one day!
Me, age 3, cookie decorating practice. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My 2014 Reading List

Happy New Year's!

As we reach the end of 2014, I wanted to share with you all the books I've read this past year. 52 books! I have to say I'm actually really impressed with myself, I didn't have a goal when I started this list,  I just wanted to keep a list and see what happened.

 For a while I was reading 5 books a month, and then adventures began and that number slowed down a lot as life began to take precedence.

Looking back now I see how many fantasy novels I read and audiobooks I listened to at the beginning of the year, when we still lived in sticks and bricks as we were packing up the house. I kind of wish I had more classics and other "important" sounding books on that list to be perfectly honest. Though a lot of those (books by Michael Scott, John Flanagan, and John Grisham) I read together with my brother, Thane, inspiring lots of bookclubing and fun, which was most definitely worth it.

The works of the incredible Tamora Pierce kept me moving, relaxed and happy while packing, cleaning, organizing, and everything that goes into redecorating a new home and moving out of an old one (second-or-third time through her Tortall books.)
I have discovered some of my new favorite books this year; Traveling With Pomegranates, The Secret Life of Bees, Little Women, A Year in Provence, The Tenth Gift, Louisiana Longshot, Northanger Abbey,  Chocolat, and Eat, Pray, Love. I HIGHLY recommend all of them. The last one was a particular favorite, it was so inspiring and gave me so much to think about; about self-love, love for others, discovering yourself, so much love! It was incredible!

Cold Sassy Tree introduced me to the wonders of literature and the range of emotions a story can make you feel for the first time. It's got me eager to read more classic lit, and we've got a brand new pile of classics to get through.

So with that said, Here's my 2014 book list:

1. The Wedding Cake Girl by Anne Pfeffer                   (January) (Fiction)

2. Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb                       (January) (Audiobook)

3. The Alchemyst by Michael Scott                                (January) (Fantasy)

4. Traveling with Pomegranates  by Sun Monk Kidd     (January) (Non-Fiction)

5. The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd               (January) (Fiction)

6. The Magician by Michael Scott                                  (February) (Fantasy)

7. Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb                                   (February) (Audiobook)

8. The Sorceress by Michael Scott                                 (February) (Fantasy)

9. The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan                      (February) (Fantasy)

10.The Camerons by Robert Crichton                            (February) (Classic)

11. Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen                             (March) (Fiction)

12. The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan                      (March) (Fantasy)

13. The Necromancer by Michael Scott                           (March) (Fantasy)

14. The Warlock by Michael Scott                                    (March) (Fantasy)

15. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham         (March) (Fiction)

16. Theodore Boone: Abduction by John Grisham           (March) (Fiction)

17. Little Women by Louisa May Alcot                              (March) (Classic)

18. Theodore Boone: The Accused by John Grisham      (March) (Fiction)

19. Theodore Boon: The Activist by John Grisham           (March) (Fiction)

20. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle                             (April) (Non-Fiction)

21. Alanna the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce             (April) (Audiobook)

22. In The Hand of Goddess by Tamora Pierce                 (April) (Audiobook)

23. The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson                                  (April) (Fiction)

24. The Woman Who Rides Like Man by Tamora Pierce    (May) (Audiobook)

25. The Shattered Chain by Marion Zimmer Bradley         (May) (Fantasy)

26. Lioness Rampart by Tamora Pierce                            (May) (Audiobook)

27. The First Test by Tamora Pierce                                 (May) (Audiobook)

28. Thendara House by Marion Zimmer Bradley               (May) (Fantasy)

29. Page by Tamora Pierce                                                (May) Audiobook)

30. City of Sorcery by Marion Zimmer Bradley                  (May) (Fantasy)

31. Squire by Tamora Pierce                                             (May) (Audiobook)

32. Louisiana Longshot by Jana Deleon                            (May) (Cozy Mystery)

33. Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce                                     (May) (Audiobook)  

34. Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce                           (June) (Audiobook)

35. Trouble in Mudbug by Jana Delon                               (June) (Cozy Mystery)

36. Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce                           (June) (Audiobook)

37. Death comes to Pemberly by P.D. James                   (June) (Fiction)

38. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen                             (July) (Classic)

39. Terrier by Tamora Pierce                                           (August) (Audiobook)

40. Chocolat by Joanne                                                    (August) (Fiction)

41. Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn                                (September) (Fantasty)

42. Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce                                  (September) (Audiobook)

43. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins                                 (September) (Fiction)

44. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett                                  (October) (Fantasy)

45. Helen of Troy by Margaret George                            (November) (Fiction)

46. The House on Tradd Street by Karen White              (November) (Fiction)

47. The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White                 (December ) (Fiction)

48. The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini                          (December) (Historical Fiction)

49. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan                      (December) (Fantasy)

50. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Bums                        (December) (Classic)

51. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert                         (December) (Non-Fiction)

* 51-1/2. Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and her World by Alison Weir (Historical Non-Fiction)

* 52. Botany of Desire by Michel Pollen (Non-Fiction)

**I'm about half way through these two books. I've been reading them since around July-ish. They've taken me months to get through as they are very dense. In the best way possible, they're both absolutely FASCINATING. So I thought putting two halves together, especially with them not being beach reads, that they can count as one whole.

This next year I doubt I'll reach 50 books again, since we're full time travelers now, but who knows? Maybe! We've got a lot of month-long stays planned, lots of reading to be done!

I don't make New Year's resolutions, it's just not my time to create goals. If I make resolutions it's either on my birthday (which is like my personal new year) or in the middle of the night when I have all those deep, life- changing thoughts. Bit IF I DID, it would be to add more classics into my life. I've also just discovered sonnets soooo. . .

I wish you all happy readings this new year, along with plenty of love, happiness, surprises, and all of your favorite things.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Here Comes the Bride. . .

So the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning (besides feeding the cats) is get half-way dressed (because, really, who expects ANYONE to be completely out of their PJs first thing?) and go on a walk with Dad and the dog. It gives you a good feel of the place, and we've seen some fun stuff wandering around. And we get to talk about all sorts of crazy stuff, from last night's Star Trek episode to life's dramas to the details of Eat, Pray, Love. The topics are endless.

The illusive gator got away 
In Charleston SC we walked to a pond that had a "Beware of Alligator" sign posted in the water. We walked there every morning with hopes of seeing an alligator (sadly it was too cold for those cold-blooded critters). We did see a whole lot of herons, pelicans, storks, ibises and many other kinds of birds.

In Tennessee we annoyed a very large blue heron every morning as it sat in front of some rapids waiting for disoriented fish to flop out (It turned out that the symbolism for seeing a blue heron was an important message for me that week.)

We've walked passed another lake in Minnesota that seriously radiated gloom and doom (Those waves were hungrily lapping up against the rocks, waiting for a victim to eat.) 

But enough with creepy lakes. It hasn't all been strange bodies in water- err strange bodies OF water. 

We're in Savannah GA for a few weeks. The first day we got here Dad and I went out and wandered around the farm they have here, and then we decided to go down this dirt road and see what was at the end. This road is ridiculously long. It just kept going and going, passed strange black-water swampy ponds, over a bridge and around a bend when this beauty suddenly appears! Introducing The Mackey House, in all its Christmas decor. We walked by it, around the lovely lake in front, passed all the parking spaces and then back down the long dirt road back home. Yesterday as we took our walk, we were passed by two cars on their way to the house. We were passed by a few more cars on our way back, all very nice cars, the occupants very nicely dressed. Yep, you guessed it, you can get married here! And there's a wedding about to happen! The last few mornings have been so much fun, guessing who's who in which car and what their part in the wedding might be. 
 Mother with the big smile and excited wave. Wedding Planner with the determined look and coffee in a mason jar mug with straw. Father, lost and asking for directions ("just down that dirt road sir!"). Best Men in their fine suits all packed into a small car.  We thought it might be fun to set up chairs and have a bag of rice to throw for when the bride and groom drive by. 
The Mackey House, Savannah GA

So today was definitely the day. You could tell by the big white limo that drove back and forth a couple times. I felt like Mrs. Kravitz from Bewitched, eagerly watching all the cars drive by ("Abner! Abner!") We have a perfect view being parked right next to the highway and the entrance of the place. Cars have been going back and forth all day. The limo was particularly fun to watch. I hope that they all had a wonderful day and the couple are happy and enjoying the Southern Holiday wedding (can you be more romantic? Honestly!) 

All this has inspired me though. I really love seeing the insides of these houses (the few I've seen) and I think I've come up with a pretty great idea on how to get inside for free tours. 

I need to get married! 

Or at least say I am. I can play the part of a young bride, touring venues for her dream wedding, right?  I just got a new sparkly ring, so I can even put on my ring finger. All I have to do is giggle a bit, nod giddily, listen to the wedding package plan without gasping at the high prices and then give them my wrong phone number ("No, I'll call YOU!")  and ta da! I'm in! It's perfect. Though when I tried out my southern drawl on Dad, his reaction was less than encouraging, lets say. Maybe that needs a little bit of work.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Can I write a post about smells without using word "smells" once?

I've been reading The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett out loud to my family. This is probably my favorite Terry Pratchett series; it's absolutely hilarious to read out loud since half of it is written to be read in a thick Scottish accent.
In the book, Tiffany Aching, our heroine, has olfactory connotations between her grandmother and Jolly Sailor Tobacco. And it got me thinking about how important scents can be in triggering memories of people or places.

Recently I thought that it would be pretty cool if I had a signature scent, like a perfume that I always wore, until it became apart of who I am. Part of my style. So one day my grandchildren will remember me whenever they get a whiff of my perfume. But what should  it be?

I don't want to use some super fake flowery perfume, like the aroma of a mall. Blah. What about something to do with baking? Oh yes! But what kind of dessert? Almond extract is divine. Maple extract seems too sticky. What about chocolate? Like, dark, unsweetened chocolate. There's a delicious lotion we have from Oyin Handmade that basically smells like chocolate vanilla marshmallow fudge, but without being overly sweet. It's incredible. Of course chocolate should be my perfume. It's ridiculously perfect. Everywhere I go I bring a delicious cloud of chocolate and vanilla. My grandchildren will think of me when they make brownies and fudge!

So I've ordered some samples of some very interesting cocoa fragrance oils from Etsy and I can't wait until they get here, to try them out. Soon I shall have my own eau du Rhanna!