Boiled Peanuts and Sweet Tea

Ocean

We just returned from a trip to South Carolina.  We used to live there many years ago for a very short period of time before we got incredibly homesick for family, foggy mornings and mountains.  However, both my husband and I have started to look back on our time in SC in a very romantic way.  We talk about the huge moon rises we would watch on the Isle of Palms connector, the sound of cicadas and of course our love affair with the food.

Now that almost a decade has passed we made a return to our beloved South Carolina.  It was an amazing trip, we learned some very important things in the first few hours of it.  Number one: babies don’t like to sleep on the red-eye.  Number two: when your baby doesn’t sleep on the red-eye, people around you get moody.  Whoopsies…lesson learned.  Number three: spending time with family and loved ones is really what it is all about.

We stayed with family on Pawley’s Island and loved every minute of it.  I had nightly cooking lessons by my husbands great-aunt, and surprisingly enough neither of us needed to diet when we returned…even though many sticks of butter, pounds of side pork and fat back were used in the making of our suppers.

Another thing that we learned or I suppose confirmed is that the ocean does really have a restorative power to it.  We were able to walk across the street to the beach daily and enjoyed building sand castles and playing in the surf.  Even when the petite encountered a jellyfish and got a pretty substantial sting on her leg – she still rallied and wanted to go for swim in the waves the following day.  We had such a fun time exploring places we used to go to all the time and ones we thought the petites would like the best.

We stayed in Pawley’s Island which is a slice of heaven, there is no place that I have seen that has such deep blues and such stunning greens, the sunsets that can literally take you breath away.  In the afternoon storms roll in and just for a moment it becomes so dark it would appear to be night, but then the sun shines through and blue skies prevail.  It is one of my  favorite places.  Of course like most places it is the people who you are with that make it so incredibly special.

toes in the sand

For our small day trips we drove south to Sullivan’s Island.  We used to go there all the time to different bars and restaurants.  This time we stopped in at Poe’s Tavern.  It is a super cute little restaurant and bar, themed with fun Edgar Allan Poe things, after all Poe was stationed at Fort Moultrie where he spent 14 months, it is said that during this time he came up with the idea for The Gold Bug about a mystical beetle who leads people to treasure.  They have some really fun swag and when we lived there I never ended up buying anything, so our trip was mainly to get me a Poe’s shirt…mission accomplished.  The beach at Sullivan’s Island is also really gorgeous, same goes for the beaches at Isle of Palms.  All very close to fun bars and food.  Yum.

We also of course wanted to drive by our old neighborhood and check everything out, I couldn’t believe how much things had changed in 10 years, at numerous times I had to ask where we were, and was totally lost and confused.

In Charleston there are just so many incredibly fun places, we only spent a little bit of time there, but we did go to some pretty fun places that you might want to check out if you happen to find yourself in Charleston.

Battery and White Point Gardens – this is a great place to walk along nad see the water, check out the ships and just explore a little bit.  If you are a history buff this is a great place to start, there are civil war cannons along this defensive seawall.  You are able to see Fort Sumter in the distance, if you walk along the promenade you will have views of some spectacular mansions.  In White Point Gardens you can rest under the shade of gorgeous oaks and even sit in a lovely gazebo.  It is a fabulous place to start your Charleston adventure.

IMG_8009

 

From there we drove to the City Market, we were in search of a few things.  My husbands great aunt had been referencing this cook book called Charleston receipts that was put together by the Charleston Junior League in 1950, it has 750 recipes in it and is one of those southern staples.  I just had to get my hands on one of these, so we headed to the market in search of the book.  (I will say you can buy one on amazon for a little bit less than the market, but you don’t get to say that you bought this awesome cookbook at the oldest city market in the south).  This market is amazing, they have so many fun things, you can buy sweet grass baskets here (although if you are driving north up 17 you would most likely find a better deal on the side of the road at one of the little basket stands.  If you are heading south, I got a great basket at Carolina Cider Company in Yemassee on the way to Savannah.  The market is also a place where you can haggle a bit, I’m not talking flea market haggle, but if you feel comfortable you can try to get a “deal”.  We also found that there was a vendor who was selling maps, old newspapers and Harper’s Weekly’s.  This is a really fun place to stop in and browse.  We ended up purchasing a reproduction of a Charleston map.  Read more about my map fiasco here.  This is a very busy place, you could easily spend hours here checking everything out.  They have something for just about everyone, it is a must stop.  The market is open everyday of the year except Christmas.  Monday-Sunday 9:30-5:30 and Friday – Saturday 6:30-10:30.

If you’re not going south to Savannah, you need to stop in at the Savannah Bee Company at the Charleston location – 216 King Street.  I am a bit obsessed with the Savannah Bee Company.  This store, brand and mission are phenomenal.  When I was first reading about the things we could do, I read a trip advisor review about honey tastings and I thought that would be really fun for our daughters, 5 years old and 1-year-old.  Who doesn’t love honey and our little hardworking buzzing friends?  So we checked it out, there were samples of all of their honeys that they sell.  It was delicious, I have never tasted so many different types of honey.  It was also a really neat place for us to show our daughter all of the hard work that bees do and why they are so important.  So this store, has an incredibly cute logo too, did I mentioned I am a bit obsessed?  They have all sorts of fun things, check out their website and you will want to order stuff right now.  You must taste the Tupelo Honey, it was my favorite and all the more special because the Tupelo tree has a short blooming period 3-10 days, so it is a rather special honey if you ask me.  Yum.  If you end up going let me know what you think?  Oh and what you ended up buying.  Also, if you are going to Savannah too, go to the shop there instead it is bigger and has more to offer, a play area for little ones so you can shop and taste in peace.

Charleston Museum – 360 Meeting Street.  This museum is great.  We took our girl there although they were not really interested in the main museum there is a part called Kids Story, where they get to try things out.  There is a little house they can play in with costumes (mainly for older kids 6-9 I would guess, they were pretty big on our petite 5-year-old), a ship where you can change and raise the flag, a lighthouse where you can push buttons and turn the light on.  It was great, they loved to play in the house with the tea set and had a fantastic time.  The museum is a great look at Charleston through the ages, they have one exhibit of guns that I found to be really interesting.  I was a little disappointed with the lack of exhibits and artifacts from the days of slavery, there were just a few things.  I am not sure if this is because there is The Old Slave Mart Museum or not.  We weren’t able to go to The Old Slave Mart Museum this time around, but I would love to go on our next visit.

Kids Story

Kids Story

raising the flagCharleston Museum 1

There are so many amazing places, you could easily spend a week touring through Charleston and not eat it all or see it all.  I think part of the fun is in just walking around and taking in all of the incredibly history in this city, from the churches, gorgeous old homes, vendors in the market.

Main places we didn’t get to this time but would like to go:

The Old Slave Mart Museum – an incredibly important museum, this building was actually used as a slave auction building.

IMG_8057

Fort Sumter – a delight for any civil war buff.

Philadelphia Alley – rumors are that this area is haunted…that there were many duels and that sometimes ghosts can be seen.  So fun!

Philadelphia Alley

Middleton Place – gorgeous rice plantations with grounds that are stunning, just check out the reviews from other travelers, sounds amazing right?

I am sure I am missing a ton of places…I realize I didn’t even mention all of the shopping…too many fun places and we only went to a very small fraction of them.  This is really just a half day in Charleston, like I said before, you could spend a week there and still not touch all of it.

If you’ve been to Charleston, what’s your favorite place to visit?   Please tell me all about it in the comments.  I’d love to hear all about it.

Erin

 

 

Advertisements

It’s Banned Book Week

Banned Book Week

It is banned book week, this is always a really fun time for teachers.  Especially teachers who teach middle or high school.  Great discussions can be had in classrooms about censorship and why some titles might be banned while others are not.  Some of my favorite books are banned, some I read in high school, my catholic all girls high school, others I read in college.  Some of them I have even taught to other people’s children.

The American Library Association promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular, and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them – the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association

The books on the list are classics, classics that offer something to everyone who reads them.  Many of these books are old friends to me, some very dear.  I cannot even begin to imagine a world without these books.  As I write this looking at my bookshelf, I realize just how much I love these books.  For the entire list of books that have either been banned or challenged check out the American Library Association for the complete list.  I know I am always surprised when I read which titles make the list; others it makes a little more sense why someone out there would have an issue with it.  Banned Book Week reminds me of just how thankful I am that I have access to books about a multitude of topics and am able to read what I want when I want without restrictions.

What are some of your favorite banned or challenged books?  Tell me about some of them, I am always looking for another book to add to my collection of unread books.

Erin

 

My Feet are Happier Without Socks: Let’s Talk About Einstein

On a Beam of Light

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne; is a fascinating read for kids and parents alike.  This story captures what it is to think, use your imagination and be filled with curiosity and wonder about the mysteries of the world that surrounds us.  The book starts out describing the unconditional love of Albert’s parents.  How they supported him and offered him a compass to discover all the mysteries of the world.

This story depicts a curious young Einstein so curious that he has endless questions that just need to be answered and solved.  Vladimir Radunsky has created amazing illustrations that capture all we know and love about Einstein.  One of my favorite parts of the story is when Einstein plays music and that music allows him to unlock secrets and mysteries – helping him to focus and think.   Another fabulous illustration is when Einstein discovered that atoms are what the world is made of, Radunsky pixilates his illustrations for this page to make this connection all the more clear.

This book is geared toward 1st grade and up.  I could really see this being useful for petites who are quiet and doing a lot of thinking.  As well as students who have a lot of questions.  This is a story that talks about a genius who was once a little boy who asked a lot of questions who grew into a man who still asked a lot of questions.

I think that this could be a great book to use with 4th and 5th graders who are writing biographies or researching our great thinkers.  A fun follow-up activity could be to write Einstein a letter.  Another way would be to have this book out along with other artifacts about Einstein, a compass, newspaper clippings, photographs, etc.

Another self to text connection could be to have students think about a place that they like to think and write about it giving as much detail as to why they like to think there, or if it is not a real place where they imagine the best place to think would be.  I would use this page as a platform for this text to self connection writing/journal topic.

Einstein in boat

This book is fabulous from cover to cover.  The illustrations are fantastic and really bring to life what the inside of Einstein’s mind might have been like.   This books would be a great addition to any library and if you can get your hands on it and share it with your petites they will be all the better for having this wonderful story read to them.

Happy Reading,

Erin

 

My love affair with Jane Austen

It's All About Austen

Did you know that there is a 10 day Jane Austen Festival happening right now in Bath, UK?  Oh my goodness, an addition has been made to my bucket list.  I am now wondering if I could possibly get my hubby to dress up like Mr. Darcy?  Okay, if not Darcy then Edmond Bertram?  So this festival looks beyond awesome they have lectures, tours, talks, book readings and wait for it a costumed promenade!  Need I say more?  No, I didn’t think so.  Just look how much fun these Janeites are having?  The costume possibilities…oh my.  Clearly if you are not an Austen fan, then this is not your cup of tea.

Jane-Austen-Festival-2013-7090-300x240

I don’t know what it is in particular that I love so much about Austen, or how I can read the books over and over again.  I think it is her timeless characters that, although they are 200 years old now, still are valid in their pursuits and ideas.  I love that there is wit and cynicism amongst some of my favorites.  Fanny Price from Mansfield Park is my ultimate favorite Austen character.  Some facts about Pride and Prejudice….soldiers coming home from WWI were given copies to read for its soothing qualities.  Winston Churchill would read his copy during times of stress.   I myself find her books to be quite calming, more so like old friends when I read them over and over again.  I do have to say I like Winston Churchill all the more knowing he would turn to Ms. Austen in times of strife.

Well if you can’t get to Bath this weekend for the final days of the festival you might as well check out some of these fine Austen inspired items.  Get ready to get your geek on.

Pride and Prejudice Play Set

Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Play Set – I’ve made my love for all things BabyLit known.  These little play set is just the cutest with little cutouts, what is not to love about it.

Keep Calm and Read Jane Austen Pillow

Keep Calm and Read Jane Austen Pillow – Can’t you just see this fabulous pillow in your book nook?   I am lusting for the pillow and the nook right about now.  The only real question to ask is which book to start reading first.

I Heart Darcy Tote

I Heart Darcy Tote – Darcy does get all the love, but it’s well worth it, don’t you think?  Perfect bag to cart books to and from the library or to your Jane Austen book club perhaps?

Quote Print

Pride and Prejudice Quote Print – I don’t mean to swoon, but this print is just lovely.

Mr. Darcy Plush

Mr. Darcy Plush – Seriously cute, perfect for even the smallest of Austen fans.

Baby Lit Books

Books – Pride and Prejudice  or Sense and Sensibility – adorable primers for your petites.  Start those babies off on the right foot to be the next generation of Janeites.

Darcy Proposal Onesie

Darcy’s Proposal Onesie – How cute would it be to have your baby, reading Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibilities board books while wearing this?!  I’m thinking my petite needs this immediately.  Baby Janeite, yes please.

Jane Austen 7 Book Anthology

Jane Austen Anthology of Seven Novels – this anthology has been out there for a while now, but its lovely leather bound cover and over 1200 gilded pages make it quite the Austen fan collectable.

 

 

Mr. Darcy Proposal- Pink and Charcoal Scarf

Darcy’s Proposal Scarf – You can feel the chill in the air and what better to keep you warm than this adorable scarf.

Lizzy Bennet's Diary

 

Lizzie Bennet’s Diary – This diary was just published in the spring and it is so cute, has little flaps you can lift and is filled will all sorts of cuteness.  It gives a great introduction into the novel and does so in a way that looks like a scrapbook diary.

Quote Shirt

Pride and Prejudice T-shirt – I love this shirt, it is incredibly unique and everyone really should wear shirts, so why not wear a cool Pride and Prejudice one?

Hopefully this post will make you smile or find the perfect present for your favorite Austen fan.

Happy Weekend,
Erin

 

Baby Shower Gifts: What to get the expecting mommies and daddies

Best Baby Shower Gifts

Recently a great many of my girlfriends have had babies…some their first and some second and thirds.  I wanted to take a minute to share my favorite and most used gifts that I have been given.  It can certainly be overwhelming when you look at baby registries and think of all of the items that are listed, what might be the most useful and the most fun to buy.  The items that I have chosen are ones that my friends use regularly, I use regularly and ones that people have said were great gifts.

Aiden & Anais Swaddle Blankets – these are my favorite blankets; because they are thin and lightweight.  They are long enough to tightly secure even the most efficient Houdini.  My babes tend to sleep hot and these don’t make that situation worse.  They are great!  They can be found just about everywhere, there are tons of different patterns to choose from which makes them all the more lovable.

Sophie the Giraffe – this natural teether has been around for over 50 years, proving it’s usefulness among the petites.  This teether is well worth the cost of what seemingly looks like a dogs chew toy.  I have no idea what is so special but both my girls love Sophie, the worst part is if you happen to leave her behind somewhere.

Diapers – for the more practical gift givers and moms alike.  Getting diapers is amazing…it may not seem fun, but you can always purchase these super cute Honest Company diapers to make it a little more personalized and cute.  The reason I think giving and getting diapers make sense is that a baby goes through an immense amount of diapers in their first year.  I read this article and just about fell over when I saw it written out like this.  Size 1 – 840, Size 2 – 560, Size 3 – 1512 this is true, an insane amount of diapers…I can vouch for it too, I bought lots of diapers for my little one in advance in all sizes and these amounts are spot on.

Toys – there are so many different ones to choose from, I really like this caterpillar.  It has lots of fun crunchy sounds, little bits to chew on, and tags to pull on.  Of course it pairs really well with the Eric Carle Very Hungry Caterpillar book.  Both my girls love it, we have given it as a gift many times as well.

Oobie (my daughter calls breasts “oobies”) Things – this I would say is a great gift.  I have given oobie things to many of my friends, remember you need all those diapers because of all of those feedings.  🙂  The Madela Hydro Gel pads are so amazing when you first start nursing and really help to soothe sore oobies in-between feedings.  The Tender Care Lanolin is great, it is thin enough to cover, and also doesn’t need to be washed off before nursing which is a huge pain if you ask me.  Finally nursing pads, you can go through quite a few of these during those first weeks of nursing.

Books – there is no way you can wrong with books.  “Ugh, I hate books, especially children’s books” ~ said no one ever.  There are so many incredibly cute books out there for babies that you really have no limits of what you can buy.  These Babylit books are a personal favorite of mine.  The illustrations are fabulous and they cover the classics, really what’s not to love.

Soothing Sounds Sleep Sheep – this is one of those things that I thought, really do I need this?  I had my screaming daughter in a store and she was a hot mess and we saw this (well, the bear version) and we jokingly laughed and turned it on thinking yeah right it will calm her down.  Well, the magical powers of the sleep sheep/bear are still used to this day in our house.  It’s also great for babes who are fussy in the car.  Great use of white noise.

Of course, as things always go, I want to add other things that are my favorite gifts to give, so maybe this will be a series of best baby gifts ever.

Erin

Historic Charleston: In Search of a Map

I have a thing for maps, if you’ve read any of my previous posts you’ll notice a trend.  Before we left for South Carolina, I called around to find out where you could get a print of an antique map in Charleston.  I called the Charleston Historical Society and the Preservation Society of Charleston.  Both of the lovely ladies I spoke with recommended the same place: Carolina Antique Maps & Prints.

This is the map I desired

Antique Map of Charleston SC, by C.N. Drie 1872 Print $25

When we planned our day trip to Charleston this was one of my main places I wanted to stop.  So off we go with our two children in tow.  Ironically enough, I cannot read a map to save my soul; truly ask my husband.  This is silly on so many levels, mainly because while we were driving I kept saying we are close, just park here.  Since my stellar map reading skills are so honed we ended up literally parking right in front of the store even though I couldn’t see it.  Here is where silly turns to hilarious in a matter of seconds.

A Plan of the Attack of Fort Sulivan, near Charles Town in South Carolina. William Faden

A Plan of the Attack of Fort Sullivan, near Charles Town in South Carolina.
William Faden $13,000

We open the door to this cute little map shop and walk in.  The woman running the place welcomes us, my husband, 5-year-old daughter and 14 month old who is covered in snacks from her car seat.    My husband while holding tight to the 5-year-old looked at a map that was $13,500.  While I flipped through a folio of maps that were ranging between $800-$1300.  My husband and I glance at each other while flipping, doing that silent look of knowing that only spouses can do.  Knowing that you have no business being in this place with these children.  This is when things just got ridiculous.  The lovely lady asked me if I was looking for anything special.  To which I, with reddening cheeks, say yes, I was told that I could get a print of an antique Charleston map here.  She says oh yes, what price point are you looking for?  I respond under $100 and she almost laughs and says that nothing in the store is under $200.  Then she lets me know of a linguistic, possibly regional error that I have made.  The word “print” does not mean “reproduction” which is clearly what I am looking for.

I do want you to know that Carolina Antique Maps & Prints, has some of the most gorgeous maps I have ever seen.  However, if you are looking for a “reproduction” of an antique map of Charleston, go to the market, I found one for $25, and we didn’t even have to break into the girls college fund.

 

If you like maps too, check out my etsy shop.

 

A Tangerine Dress and a Fabulous Story

photo 1

A few months ago we were at our local independent bookstore.  This bookstore is awesome…the type of place you could lose track of time.  My husband found this book on the shelves and we were sold.  Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, by Christine Baldacchino with illustrations by Isabelle Malenfant is a touching story.  It is about a young boy named Morris, his favorite activity at school is the dress up center, he loves the tangerine dress.  His classmates tease him and exclude him from playing their games because they don’t understand.  Morris retreats into his imagination and what a great one it is.

photo 2photo 3

This story brought a tear to my eye, because I have known so many little kids who have loved to do things that are not “typically” in their gender role.  In my opinion there is nothing wrong with this, and I love that this story gives trying new things and doing what you love a spot center stage.  I want my girls to know that being different, or liking different things is okay.  That doing what you love is okay.  That doing the things that make you happy and make you smile is okay.  Above all I want them to know that I love them for who they are.  I love Morris Micklewhite and hope you will too.  This book is a fabulous book that, in my opinion, should be in every school library and in the hands of all of our petites.

Happy Reading,
Erin

Realizations while reading recycled magazines

This is rather embarrassing, but I’m going to toss it out there into the blogosphere.  I love reading magazines, but sadly enough I don’t subscribe to all of my guilty pleasures, for those I need to go to the dentist or some other doctor appointment.  However, someone who lives near me has a fabulous subscription to InStyle magazine!  I just happened to be recycling some of my diaper and fruit puree pouch boxes when I see a perfectly clean copy of the latest InStyle, right on top.

What would any other gal do?  I took it and walked quickly back inside so that afore-mentioned neighbor wouldn’t see me..  What I realized after looking at the 400+ pages of style, is that I have no idea what is actually in style.  I mean seriously, no idea.  I will say I spotted a few pieces that I just loved, all of which were $300 and over.

What I found most shocking was not that I was reading a pilfered magazine from the garbage, but that this actually exists.

WTF

Wait, what?  Books by the Foot, I don’t know if I am in love or just plain flabbergasted.  Here in my style naivety I thought people simply read books, then removed the book jacket to discover pretty spines and then decorated accordingly.  Nope!  No they don’t, they buy them by the FOOT!  This made me think of the scene in Good Will Hunting when Will asks “Do you buy all of these retail or do you send away for, like, a shrink kit that comes with all these volumes included?” – my guess is that he bought them here at Books by the Foot.

I do feel ever so slightly hypocritical for judging people who style these amazing bookshelves with beautiful books, when I choose my reading material from a recycle bin.  Seriously, look how beautiful these are?  I can’t decide which one I love the most.

Rainbow Books

Try not to judge, I swear I only take magazines from the recycle bin when they are clean and right on top…and most importantly when no one is looking.

Erin

It’s Back to School: Homework Station

Oh my goodness, as a teacher this is one of my favorite times of year.  This year, like last year, I will be sitting it out.  Being a stay at home mom is incredibly rewarding, but I will be honest, I miss seeing my “kids” and that first day of school, that feeling when all is new and possibilities are endless.

With that said, this is a big year for us. The Petite has started kindergarten!  Words cannot even begin to describe how I felt sending her off that first day.  She has been my co-pilot for the last year and it is a strange feeling to not have her around during the day.  Good news is that she loves her new school, friends and teacher.  Yay!

I don’t like kindergarten, I LOVE kindergarten!

These were the petite’s words on the first day of school.  I am in love with her enthusiasm and joy for learning.  One thing that as a mom, who happens to be a teacher, is that there are a few recommendations I would make on back to school night that now I actually get to do myself.  The first one is setting up a homework station or area.

Homework Station

This is something that will save time, stress and headaches in the weeks to come.  Having an area where all of the items you need to complete assignments helps students to be responsible and organized.  It shows them that homework and learning are important and gives them an area or place where doing homework is the expectation.  Can you tell I’ve talked about this to parents before?

A homework area varies greatly depending on the age of the student.

Homework Station Items

Pre-K through 2nd grade:

White computer paper, ruler, eraser, glue stick, pencils, crayons, highlighters, scissors, writing paper and a timer for tracking reading times (I just use my phone).  Items that can be helpful but aren’t necessary: dry erase board and markers, and whiteout.

3rd grade – 5th grade

White computer paper, ruler, eraser, glue stick, pencils, pens, markers, crayons, highlighters, whiteout, scissors, binder paper, dictionary and a timer.

Middle School

Binder paper, pens, pencils, calculator, dictionary, highlighters, post its.

High School

Yikes, I’m guessing its been years since you’ve been able to convince your teen to do homework out in the open….and they’ve made it this far so…keep up the good work.  🙂

 

Now is a great time to get all of these items, because they are still on sale.  The critical part to all of this is to have something to hold it in so that it is easy to access.  One of my main goals for recommending these things is  to make doing homework less of a scavenger hunt and more so a learning experience.  Starting a routine around when homework is done, also where it is done is so helpful.  If there is a routine it helps kids to be accountable even kindergarteners.  After all, kids love routine, even if they tell you otherwise.

I hope this helps ease you back into the school year, start a homework routine and have stress free nights while helping the kids get homework assignments completed.

Erin