Holiday Buzzed!

Hello! I hope this Saturday afternoon finds you cozy, rested, and still feeling a little of the holiday buzz. Here at the chateau (a crazy nickname for our abode given by a friend), the family is enjoying a day of football (not really), laziness (the laundry room floor is covered in clothes), and warm home-cooked food. As we speak, I'm filling my belly with some delicious chili while watching E!, playing with my new camera, and planning some holiday decorating and organization projects.

Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays. Because I didn't grow up in a large family,  it has historically been a small event populated more by friends than family. When I was a little girl, my Mom would cook all of the traditional trimmings, including a wicked southern corn-pudding. But as a child, I think it was hard to grasp the importance of slowing down to be thankful for all of the little things that we take for granted and the folks that we share our life with. I just wanted to fast forward to Christmas and my birthday. Today, I am appreciating the Thanksgiving break to really relax and unwind from the kids' hectic sports/school schedules and to really take some time to purposefully plan our holiday season.

After a large buffet-style Thanksgiving dinner at the Sanctuary on Kiawah Island, we made the hike back to town to head out for the Black Friday (but really Thursday) sales. For the last couple of years, Black Friday eve has been our annual "date night" to shop, eat and hang out like teenagers until the wee hours of the morning. Previously, we scored some great deals such as BOGO Ray-ban sunglasses, winter coats, BOGO New Balance shoes, BOGO designer jeans and awesome prices on NIKE sneakers. This year, stores opened while we were still sitting at the Thanksgiving table, really watering down the deals and the crowds. The mood just wasn't as festive as years past when the stores opened at midnight and stayed open past dawn. We did stuff our faces with greasy cheeseburgers at midnight, though we didn't find any unusually awesome sale prices. We picked up some small things for the kids, but really missed the doorbuster items that we really were hoping to get.

Today feels like a holiday again, sleeping later than normal and taking the time to cook a warm, nutritious meal. Chris and I have nailed making chili.....he chops, I "decorate"as he says. This is what we end up with:

As I was trying to find the seasonings for the chili, I realized that organizing the spice cabinet might be a mini-project that even I could accomplish in my lazy state. This time of year, before all of the holiday baking and cooking, is a great time to edit your spice collection and replace those out-of-date and replace them with fresh ones. I also took a look at the baking cabinet and realized we are low on several staples. Chris has been baking like a fiend lately, even making his first from-scratch cake with homemade frosting. So, I'm cleaning out, throwing away the old, cleaning and making a list to restock.

Well, the holiday season has officially, no doubt about it, begun! I have enjoyed everyone's photos of their Turkey Day gatherings on instagram and Facebook! I would love to know what you did over Thanksgiving, and your prep plans for the upcoming season, so please feel free to leave a note in the comments section ;)  I hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend and are looking forward to all of the Christmas activities on tap in December!

Warmest Wishes,

My First Five on Friday!

Hey there!! I'm trying something new today......a link party with other bloggers! I love finding new blogger friends to follow and catching a glimpse into their daily lives. Here we go with Five things on my mind on this chilly Friday.......

1. A whole weekend of soccer! My kids are lucky enough to be playing on home turf all weekend against some great regional teams. My son's team gets the opportunity to play a team that defeated us in the Myrtle Beach tournament in October.  This will be my girl's second tourney, but first with her new team.  Go Super Eagles and Road Runners!!!

2. I'm not sure if I should admit to watching QVC from time to time. I really don't follow sports, and on weekend nights I struggle to find something to watch when there isn't a Housewife marathon on Bravo. (awkward confession #2). I especially enjoy watching David Venable when he does the kitchen items. Last weekend they had a great deal on a new Keurig that comes with a carafe and a bunch of new flavor samples. I really couldn't justify the purchase since I already have a Keurig that I never use. I was inspired to pull it down and clean out the K-cups that we've had since we bought the thing years ago. I went shopping for some new ones and was happy to find an organic option for coffee as well as a light roast decaf that sounded good. I really don't need to add more caffeine to my life, and it seems ok for my girl who loves the occasional cup o' joe.

3. On recommendation of a couple of blogs that I follow, I ordered this dress from Nordstrom for $40. I felt like I had hit the jackpot after it arrived. Fully lined with a lace overlay and details that make it seem expensive. Definitely a keeper!

4. Also from a sale at Nordstrom a couple of weeks ago, I ordered the Hunter Rain Boots. After having two different sizes shipped to me (gotta love free shipping!), I finally came to the conclusion that these boots just don't fit my feet. While I really need a pair of rain boots to wear to the soccer fields,  these are just too wide around my ankles. Two things that I may try is to order a pair of the packable ones to see if they fit me a little snugger, or as Cassie at Hi Sugarplum! suggested, I could buy a different brand of rain boots and put the Hunter socks over the top of them.

Hunter Original High Gloss Boot (Women)
5. Has anyone started their Christmas shopping? I will admit that regardless of good intentions, I have not purchased one thing. I have a list in my mind, if that counts! I plan to do a lot of research this coming week on the Black Friday sale ads before Chris and I have our annual date night and hit the sales Thursday evening. I'm really looking forward to it!

Tanger outlets black friday ad 2014


Have a wonderful weekend,

A Charleston Chill and Operation Christmas Child

Morris Island Lighthouse Winter 2014

Hi guys! How are you loving the "winter in November" we are experiencing? My kids have been practicing soccer after dark dressed in a combination of gloves, mittens, hats and scarves collected through the years in varying sizes and colors. Last night, C. actually wore a stocking cap to practice that he has owned since he was three. It was fleece with rainbow stripes and tassels on top. So cute. I have to say that they have been have troopers in the cold. They actually ooh and ahh over frost-covered grass at the soccer field on the way to school. We don't actually get much frost at our house because of our proximity to the water. But in other places on the island, it looked like a winter wonderland this morning.

This week we have been shopping and packing boxes for Operation Christmas child. We have done this on and off for the last several years. This year the  kids are doing them through their school, but Chick-Fil-A also often has the forms and boxes for you to fill and drop off there. We purchase small items to fill a shoe box, including soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, hard candy, small toys and school supplies. Samaritan's Purse delivers the boxes overseas to children in need accompanied a presentation to illustrate the good news of Christ and to let the children know they are loved from a world away. Such a special time of year to share a blessing with a child!

Check them out online:

Today I also uploaded photos from this summer that I had forgotten about. Perfect for throwback Thursday!!! I feel warmer just looking at these!!! My kids are so much fun to hang out with at the pool. I really am a warm-weather person, but I'm actually finally starting to enjoy the fall and winter.  As I watch my kids grow up so fast,  I am realizing it is time to slow down and appreciate the little moments, instead of wishing them away. Cold-weather memories around the holidays are some of the best. It will be summer again before we know it......

Today is actually a day of reflection for me, as I think about losing my Dad twenty-one years ago on a cold November Saturday morning. I am so thankful that the pain has dulled over the years to a point that I can be thankful for the years with him instead of suffering constantly from the  grief. I have a couple of friends that have experienced more recent losses who are still finding it difficult to move forward. I'm here to tell them that time will dull the pain and that the bitterness will one day be replaced by warm, hazy memories. I obviously need to scan more pictures of my Dad since this is the only one I could find on my computer. Yikes!

 Warmest Wishes,

The View From Here

Hey guys! I apologize for how long it has been since my last post. I'm working on learning more about blogging, and reading lots of great posts by my favorite bloggers for inspiration and to observe their technique. I have a few things that I need to nail down to really get this blog into gear.

I really intended this to be a lifestyle blog, but with a focus on photography of Charleston. Right now, I'm considering switching equipment brands altogether. I am currently using a Canon 5d Mark II, which at the time that I purchased it, was the top of the line "prosumer" camera. The megapixel count, the full frame sensor, and low light sensitivity were amazing. My problem is that when I received my copy, I noticed that my pictures didn't improve in clarity, saturation, etc. Almost all of my shots were soft. I will admit to being a "pixel peeper" from time to time, but honestly, I got better pictures from the Canon Rebel that I had previously shot with. Over the last four years, I have turned down opportunities to shoot family pics and even weddings because my I felt that I could not rely on my camera to produce clear, crisp images. EVERYTHING that came SOOC (Straight Out Of the Camera) needed to be edited for sharpness. My in-camera meter wasn't so hot either, always under exposing shots. Anyway, as I am thinking of abandoning Canon altogether, I feel like I cannot provide the beautiful pictures that are intrinsic to my blog.

So I'm in the process of researching the Nikon full frame DSLR's. They have a great deal running right now for a discount off of lenses bought with a Nikon body. I just feel that I want to wait for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to be posted. What to do?

In the meantime, I have a couple of shots from our weekend/week to share. I will continue to add new posts, maybe without a clear subject until I get on a program with a blogging calendar etc. I really need the practice writing in a non-historical/business tone so that I can become more conversational. I'm really looking forward to taking the ideas that I have and turning them into something here!

So I will close with a couple of iPhone/iPad pics and thank you again for giving me a read!!!

This first one is just a shot of what my family does while waiting for me in a store......this is a clean one. When I leave Chris to his devices, lets just say that some beautifully monogramed linen hand towels were organized in a manner that is just not something that I can share on a family-friendly blog. I'm thinking of starting a blog feature that will be called :

Oh yes he did!

Check out all of these spools of Christmas ribbon. They would be so cute on an office shelf, or on your desk as functional Christmas decor...I may have to go back to purchase these. I just need a total re-do of our office space. Its so awful at we don't even use it anymore.

This is what I pictured when I saw these ribbons:

This week we celebrated Veteran's Day. I cannot express the pride that that I feel because my sweetheart is an Air Force vet. We enjoyed dinner at California Dreaming with a free meal for Chris and a discount for the family. What a nice way to honor our servicemen.

Oh, and just at the last minute, look what arrived! It really is beginning to feel like the holidays. Every year I say that I am going to start earlier on shopping and decoration, but it never happens. Maybe Coastal Living will give me a little push......

A Charleston Halloween.

Wow! Halloween was super fun and action-packed for us this year! While we were downtown early in the day, I grabbed a few shots of some of the spooky holiday decor along Charleston's streets. Check out these guys that peer over a second-story balcony on Tradd and Meeting streets.

As we ventured down some of the side streets and alleys, we found more and more ghoulish displays.  I'm taking notes for next year. 

After school we grabbed a quick bite at Chick-Fil-A and grabbed the perfect scary clown mask for C.  at Walgreen's of all places. We had about an hour to get E. in costume, with her hair fluffed and her vampire makeup on before we met friends. Pretty creepy, huh?

I'm usually the one behind the camera, so I was happy to catch a good one of the two of us!

These three were ready to take on the Historic area, starting on Church Street. 

Our first victims await!

E. and I kept getting spooked by this crazy clown face. E. told her brother that he looked like Ariel.......

That is one spooky little girl.....

I love this shot because she looks so ethereal, like a ghost that had just stepped out of history walking the bricked streets. Minus the purple candy pail and pink crocs :)

One of Charleston's many gorgeous handmade iron gates.

This home was tucked back away from the street with huge front yard and gorgeous brick walk....I had never noticed it before and just fell in love at first sight.

The double porches!!!

Charleston really is the perfect backdrop for Halloween festivities. The atmosphere envelops you in the feeling of the past as if you are walking right back into history. And I find that the folks that open their stately front doors to children on Halloween are some of the most generous and kind folk. We received many kind comments on our costumes and multiple pieces of candy at each home. 


        Clearly E. was not taking what the guy on the left was offering....she even told him so in no uncertain terms....                                                                                                      

This was my view for much of the night. On a positive note, I'm sure I can count it as cardio keeping up with him.

Even Jason has to field business calls on Halloween....any of you that know Chris know that he is always on the phone.

Caught in the act. Apparently that nice lady didn't notice how big that kid was.

After a costume switch, Chris did what all Dads do. Stop and loot candy out of his kid's bag.

What a great night...perfect weather, perfect location, perfect companions.  I really enjoy Halloween and dread the day my youngest doesn't want to go out anymore. But I plan to make the most out of it for the next several years.