Oatland Island Summer Camp

The PCP just wrapped up his third year of camp at Savannah’s Oatland Island Wildlife Center.  He signed up for Amazing Animals and had a rollicking good time learning about all sorts of creatures through hands-on activities, creative crafts and wildlife investigations.   The highlights of his week were crabbing off the dock and holding Checkers the snake!

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I adore that he has the opportunity to attend this camp each year, as Sister and I attended the very same and much unchanged camp for countless summers.   June 2012 664And if you’re visiting Savannah, the trails are open to the public year round with a small admission fee.  There are often special demonstrations on the weekends as well and a story time for toddlers on Tuesdays.  It’s a great place to entertain the littles for a few hours.  If you go, definitely bring a cold drink and coat yourself in bug spray.  I find early spring and fall to be the best time to visit.

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After one last beach visit, a bucket of Daddy-O’s boiled peanuts and hours more of skim boarding and sandcastle building, we are on the road home so that I can throw together a fourth of July party in three days flat.

June 2012 652 copy June 2012 663 copy June 2012 654 copy June 2012 592 copyAlready looking forward to our next visit!



I Know I Can

The PCP is nothing if not confident in himself, his abilities, his knowledge, his muscles, his mastery of any and all feats…you get my drift.  I’ve said before that his self confidence is one of his most admirable characteristics, and one that fuels dogged determination to accomplish anything, do anything, learn anything…etc.  Another admirable, albeit challenging in the child rearing department, trait.  But I digress.

The littles were thrilled when I suggested we get skim boards (from Christy’s Department Store) to use on the beach this afternoon.  Here’s how the purchase went down…
Cashier: Y’all got the sex to go with them?
Me: Um… excuse me?  (as I turn 50 shades of red). 
Cashier holds up sex wax
Me: Oh!  The sex wax!!!  Well no, I’ll take one of those too.  How do I know when to reapply it?  (We didn’t wax boards back in the day.)
Cashier: When y’all fall off and break something.
Me: Gotcha.  (Make mental note to apply approximately every three seconds.)
But I digress. Again.
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So, while Cookie made a fort, blanket and sandcastle out of his…
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…the PCP spent three.straight.hours on the surf mastering the darned thing.  The day started like this.
June 2012 551 copy …and about an hour later was looking more like this.
June 2012 608 copyAs I watched him study the surf, try different ways of dropping the board and eventually start jumping on without abandon, I sat in my chair and my mind couldn’t help but flash forward to visions of what an outstanding young man he’ll be. 
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As the hours unfolded, sheer determination turned to sheer bliss.  When Mother asked him if he was telling himself “I think I can” when he started out, he matter-of-fact replied “No, I was saying ‘I know I can’.”
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Memories were made at Tybee today.

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Shopping Savannah

I mentioned our rainy weather earlier this week, and can I just say that the beach would have made for much cheaper days.  We ventured out in the monsoon to shop a few chains and a few locals. 

We went stark raving mad buying up all sorts of coastal gems at Home Goods.  Corals and lacquered boxes and lanterns and garden stools – OH MY!  (Mother has already put her white box out.)
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I scored some fabulous pots on clearance at Target for the porch stairs, and finally tracked down the sunburst mirror that Mother is going to help me paint like hers a la Ballard Designs.
June 2012 523 June 2012 524 We popped in River Services on Thunderbolt for supplies for an upcoming project.  It’s the place to go for any and all sorts of boating gear.  You really wouldn’t believe the home decor possibilities in here – from nautical flags to waterway charts.  I’ve got a few up my sleeve…
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In Sweet Tea at Sandfly, I found the perfect piece of art to finish up my guest bedroom en suite.  It’s by local-ish (she’s from Brunswick) artist Mary Kicklighter.  I have one of her small shrimp canvases too and adore it.  Can’t wait to get this one hung and share the reveal!
June 2012 541Honey is going to kill me. In the infamous words of Milli Vanilli, “blame it on the rain, yeah yeah.” (Writing that felt like a release to get it out of my head, although it makes me look like a complete loser on paper.)

Luckily the gloomy weather is gone so we’re planning to hit the BEACH! 

PS. Check out my Delightful Guide to Savannah eats, drinks, to-dos and shops here!


Guide to Delightful Savannah

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NOTE: Updates to this post have moved HERE!

This post is a long time coming - every day I get more and more emails asking for what to do, shop and eat in Savannah.  While I am pretty firmly planted in Atlanta, I am soooo grateful to still spend about a week a month down in the South’s most splendid city.  So, without further ado, here’s my part native – part tourist take on the most “delightful” things to do behind the moss curtain.

Click here if you wish to view each and every post I’ve written about the city. 

River Street / Bay Street
  • Catch the water taxi/tug boat across the river to the Westin hotel for breakfast/lunch or just for the fun of riding on the boat!  It's free and picks up from both ends of River Street -  near the Hyatt Hotel and down by the Waving Girl.
  • There are festivals and fireworks the first weekend of each month and other things on the rest of the weekends. Check here for a schedule.
Eat and Drink
  • Spanky's is a great little chicken finger and spuds (their yummy version of beer battered fries) joint for casual dining at lunch and dinner.  Kids are welcome. 
  • Grab a praline at River Street Sweets.  You won’t be able to walk by without going in.
  • Have a cocktail at the roof top bar at the Bohemian while watching the boats come in and marveling over the gorgeous oyster shell chandeliers.
  • Belly up to the piano bar at Vic’s on the River for a delish small plate and glass of wine.  A small balcony opens up right over the river.
Historic District
  • Go on a guided ghost tour, trolley ride or carriage ride.  I haven’t been on one in a few years but all are pretty reputable.
  • Ellis Square (just outside of City Market) has a small sprayground open seasonally. There are benches and places to get ice cream in City Market.
  • Forsyth Park is our favorite place to take a picnic and blanket and let the kids run in the grass with a ball or play on the play ground. There is a cafe near the playground that serves light food, coffee and drinks. It's pretty good.
  • If you are into Girl Scouts, take a tour of the Juliette Gordon Low House.
  • The Georgia State Railroad Museum the world’s largest and most complete Antebellum railroad repair facility still in existence.  If you have a train lover in your midst, it’s worth a visit!
  • The Savannah Children's Museum opened in June.  Located in one of the original structures at the Georgia Railroad Museum, it’s a stunning and whimsical place where you and your littles can lose yourself for hours.
  • Stop by the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.  I said my “I do’s” in this breathtaking and historic Catholic church.
Eat and Drink
  • The Olde Pink House unrivaled for Southern service and divine eats. This is a must-eat for all visiting Savannah. Start your evening with cocktails in the lounge and end it with the praline basket. If you only do one meal in Savannah, do it here!
  • a.lure Low Country Cuisine is wonderful new restaurant owned by lifelong friends. Open only for dinner, this is classic southern cuisine with a contemporary take, dished up in a stunningly gorgeous building.
  • The Lady & Son’s is Paula Deen’s infamous establishment.  You MUST make an advance reservation as it’s nearly impossible to walk up and get in.  This is traditional, home style Southern cookin’.  Think sweet tea, fried chicken, collards, mac n cheese, hoe cakes and gooey bars served all-you-can-eat cafeteria style.
  • Back in the Day Bakery is a retro, relaxed and remarkable stop for a light breakfast, quick lunch or fabulous dessert.  Very kid friendly.  I implore you to try the ‘nana puddin’ if it’s not sold out!
  • The Pirate’s House is a great place for littles.  The food is pretty good but you really go there for the experience.  Located in a mysterious building that first opened as an inn for seafarers in 1753, you can still see the tunnels that lead to the river and pirates pop by your table.
  • Leopolds Ice Cream is a retro ice cream parlor.  Their floats are divine!
  • Gryphon Tea Room is a nice little ladies lunch spot.  I had my bridal luncheon here, in fact!
  • Vinnie Van GoGo’s is downtown Savannah’s pizza spot.  Grab a slice and sit on the bricks to listen to live music.  Note that they only accept cash.
  • Express Cafe has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember and it’s barely changed a lick in twenty-five years.  It’s a great place for breakfast (all day) and lunch and you cannot leave without a heath bar cookie.
  • 700 Drayton at the Mansion on Forsyth Park is a swanky spot for after dinner cocktails overlooking the park.
  • The Crystal Beer Parlor is Savannah's second oldest restaurants and a local tradition.  The crab stew, other salad and burgers are all fabulous. Go early or expect to wait a good long while as they do not take reservations.
  • Broughton Street
    • 24e - home furnishings and accessories in eclectic contemporary style
    • Savannah Bee Company – I couldn’t decide whether to put this in Do, Eat or Shop!  You must make time to visit the honey tasting bar and learn all about the different varieties.  It’s free!  You can also grab a honey tea or hot biscuits with honey to snack on.  There is a very small beehive play area for kids.  Great place for souvenirs at all price points.
    • Paris Market – Again, a great one to shop and grab a snack.  I’ve never been in without falling in love with at least one thing and generally feel like I could leave with a car load. You must try a frozen french hot chocolate and an iced cookie.  The water du jour is also always fantastic.
    • DC2 – eclectic and over the top home furnishings and jewelry.  They always have a sale going on.
    • Sylvester & Co. – a new shop with unique accessories and a cute little cookie bar in the back.
    • The Lady & Son’s – Even if you don’t eat at Paula’s place, the gem of a gift shop is worth popping in.
  • Whitaker Street
    • One Fish Two Fish - full of eclectic and stylish furniture, lighting, bedding, art and accessories all with coastal accents
    • Number Four Eleven – gorgeous furnishings, linens and accessories and home of the custom monogram
    • Circa Lighting – gorgeous light fixtures
    • La Paperie – stationery, journals, gifts and all sorts of delightful finds
  • Habersham Antique Market – this is a traditional antique market and you never know what you’ll find.  My fave in Savannah.
  • 37th @ Abercorn Antiques – another antique market
  • The Ray Ellis Gallery is at Ellis Square.  He’s one of my favorite Savannah artists and his prints are attainable.
The Islands
  • Oatland Island Wildlife Center is a very natural, very low key place to walk trails and see animals.  There are all sorts of things from wolves to alligators.  We do camp here each summer but it is also open to the public.
  • Polka Dots - coastal accents, Lilly Pulitzer home and gift items and unique jewelry.
  • See a show at the Puppet People. The children’s shows include a tour of the workshop and a craft.  There are also shows geared towards adults.
  • River Services – this is really a store for boating gear but I’ve found plenty of things to be used for coastal craft projects – ropes, cleats, maps and nautical flags abound
  • Go to the beach!
  • Fort Pulaski - explore the fort, walk the trails and have a picnic.  Littles can become a Junior Park Ranger!
  • Marine Science Center offers guided beach walks and they have a very small aquarium type exhibit.  We do camp here each summer and if you are staying at Tybee you might consider this for your kids.  They run Mon-Thu and have a morning and afternoon session.
  • Pirate Playground (for lack of a better word) is fun for the kids.  Right there is also the Tybee Memorial Cemetery, beach volleyball and picnic tables.
Eat / Drink
  • Tybee Social - One of my all time Savannah favorites! I always get fish tacos and a margarita.  Very kid friendly.
  • AJ’s Dockside – river front dining and delish seafood
  • Sugar Shack – I’ve been getting a cone here for as long as I can remember.
  • Spanky's - You can eat in your swim suit and a t-shirt!  Get the fingers and spuds with honey to dip!!
  • Huc A Poos - The best pizza on the island.  Cornhole on the deck while you laze away the day.  Anything goes here!
  • Seaside Sisters – lovely home furnishings and accessories.  Mary Kay Andrews stocks a booth here!
  • The Shops at Tybee
  • Christy’s Department Store – all sorts of beach gear
In Town
  • Savannah Sand Gnats – get up close and personal with baseball at one of our minor league games
  • Daffin Park – nice, fenced playground
  • Byrd’s Cookie Company has a newish bar with yummy sandwiches.  A nice lunch spot. While you’re there, load up on gourmet cookies and southern foods.
  • Two Smart Cookies is a scrumptious cookie bar with a side of lovely home decor.  A great place for an afternoon snack!
  • Maison de Macarons brings a sweet taste of France to the South!  Freshly made macarons are to die for.
  • Sweet Tea in Sandfly is a new addition to my must-shop list.  Gorgeous, gorgeous home furnishings and accessories. Loads of pieces from local artists.
  • Clutter off of Eisenhower is home to all sorts of fabulous finds - antiques, art and accessories.
Seasonal Favorites
  • St. Patrick’s Day – March 17 in the historic district and the previous Saturday at Tybee
  • Pirate Fest – October at Tybee
  • Tour of Homes – March in the historic district

Note that this is by no means an exhaustive or expert list of all there is to do in Savannah – this is simply a list of what my family enjoys. I hope you do too!  Have a GREAT time down South and let me know if y’all have any favorites!! 

With that, I’m off to start my own day in Savannah :-)


Sweet Land of Liberty {Free Printable}

We’ve had a rainy couple of days in Savannah so in between a whole lot of shopping and an afternoon at the movies, I put together this patriotic Sweet Land of Liberty canvas to decorate the porch mantle for the fourth of July holiday!
June 2012 514 June 2012 519 June 2012 515 June 2012 517 I had planned to order a canvas online but at this late stage in the game, I couldn’t get one in time AND I really didn’t want to spend a hundred dollars plus shipping for something that is seasonal decor on an outdoor porch!  So…Mother and I brainstormed a way to DIY the canvas.  It only took a couple of hours and cost about $40 to make (I already had mod podge.)
1. Gather supplies – you'll need:
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18x24 canvas (I purchased half off at AC Moore)
2 pages of 8.5 x 11 scrapbook paper OR a little paint for the edges (If I had it to do over, I would have just painted my edges aqua rather than cutting and mod podging the sides.)
Matte mod podge
Large 18x24 photo print.  (Staples printed mine on photo paper for $20 in about an hour.  Sign up for their rewards card to get 5% off.)
Paint brush
Scissors or paper cutter
2. Cut your scrapbook paper into strips sized to fit the depth of your canvas.  Mine was 1 3/8”.
3. Use mod podge to adhere scrapbook paper around edges of canvas.  Just follow the directions on the jar.  I used a spatula to smooth out any bumps and wrinkles in the paper.
June 2012 509 4. Coat the top of canvas with a nice layer of mod podge.  Press picture down and smooth out any wrinkles. (See that lovely spatula?  It’s older than me and I had no idea how my parents prized it until I got a little mod podge on it.)
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June 2012 511 5. Brush on another coat of mod podge right over the front of the picture and around all sides.  I did mine with a back and forth stroke so that it would leave brush marks when dried.
June 2012 512 6. I let mine dry overnight and gave it a new coat this morning.  It only took about 15 minutes to dry and looks fantastic!!!

If you’d like to make your own canvas, or just have it printed out and mounted on foam board, download the file for FREE here!!
Sweet Land of Liberty

We saw Madagascar 3 yesterday and LOVED it.  Who knew animals could be so hilarious!?!?  If this rain doesn’t move on out we’ll probably do Brave today.
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Rain, rain GO AWAY!


Porch Progress {Week 9}

Just before we hit the road I snapped a few quick pics of last week’s progress.  By the time I’d left, the porch was ready for paint!!!  *squeals with delight* 

The posts and door frame have been framed out and the crawl space cover is all in place.
June 2012 344 June 2012 345 June 2012 348 Inside, the bead board ceiling is up and everything has been trimmed out.
June 2012 347 It should be done or close to done by the time we get home!!  I only wish I’d be there to see the first strokes of paint go up.  Alas, I have left bestie A and her impeccable taste in charge to call me if she sees anything she would want in her own home.  Between her and contractor S, I’m in good hands.

Meanwhile, Honey has been slaving away in the yard trying to clean things up from the fallen tree and just general neglect.  The new bed leading to the porch has been growing like crazy, which makes me so happy we went ahead and got a jump start on it!!
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This is beyond exciting y’all!!


Littles in Historic Savannah

It was another great day down South!  I typically blather on about all the luscious eats and enviable shoppes in historic Savannah and, outside of Forsyth Park and the free water taxi that runs from River Street to the Westin, I’ve neglected to talk much about what to do with your littles downtown.  I get loads of emails asking about this and today we spent a whole day in the historic district having fun with the kids.

Savannah Children’s Museum
We were thrilled to spend our morning at the brand spanking new Savannah Children’s Museum.  Phase one of the project, the Exploration Station, has just been open less than two weeks and is positively outstanding!  Located in one of the original structures at the Georgia Railroad Museum, it’s a stunning and whimsical place where you and your littles can lose yourself for hours.
June 2012 409 June 2012 405 On the upper level of the Exploration Station, we sifted through a sand and water table for shells and constructed dams and played with the water valves to see what would happen!
June 2012 469 We built a “Pokemon Machine” with life sized tinker toys…
June 2012 410 June 2012 411 June 2012 413 June 2012 412 …and had a grand time building a ball course with foam blocks, mats, wagons, fabric and crates at the Imagination Playground.
June 2012 416And before sliding down the giant green swirly slide to the lower level, we belted out some big music.
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June 2012 424The lower level is literally overflowing with things to engage minds and imaginations.  Our first stop was the Exploration Maze – you never know what’s around the next corner and we found everything from Lego stations to chalkboard walls!
June 2012 426 June 2012 403 June 2012 428 The dress-up closet had loads of fun costumes and Cookie adored parading around like a knight.June 2012 430 June 2012 466 June 2012 463We spent a great deal of time playing the life-sized games – tic tac toe, connect four, dominos, chess and checkers.  This is an aerial view of that portion of the museum.June 2012 417
June 2012 432 June 2012 434 June 2012 435 Mother and I ogled the four tiered planters, lush grass and container vegetable gardens with everything from herbs to squash! June 2012 418 June 2012 420The Storybook Nook was incredibly darling.  Of course, my fast-paced crew didn’t sit long enough to enjoy it.  I think this was the point in our visit when Mother suggested we visit without them next time :-)
June 2012 431 We all loved cooling off in the misting stations…multiple times in our visit.
June 2012 438 And we spun like silly on this strange but fun contraption.
June 2012 445 There were tons of areas for constructing and deconstructing (of course) with blocks of all sorts.
June 2012 449 June 2012 452 June 2012 457 The baby spent a good long while “painting” at the chalkboard tables.  One of these would be a fabulous addition to our back yard play things.  (Catch that, Honey??)
June 2012 454All in all, it’s like no place I’ve ever been.  And the whole time you are just marveling over all the things these walls have seen over the last 160ish years.

If you go:
  • The museum is only open from 10AM – 2PM so add it to your morning agenda.
  • Every part of the museum is outside.  Dress appropriately and consider being there when they open.  Savannah is HOT and HUMID!
  • Outside food and drink are not permitted.  There are water fountains and water is available for purchase.
  • Tickets are $7.50 and are purchased in the Railroad Museum gift shop.
  • Parking is free!

Georgia State Railroad Museum
The Children’s Museum is connected to the Georgia State Railroad Museum – the world’s largest and most complete Antebellum railroad repair facility still in existence.  If you have a train lover in your midst, it’s worth a visit! 
June 2012 378 The huge and historic trains were just awe inspiring.  And the littles loved seeing a “real live” fully operational turntable like we’ve learned so much about from our “cheeky” friend Thomas.
June 2012 473 June 2012 383 June 2012 380 The grounds were also quite impressive and Mother and I loved reading all of the plaques explaining what the train yard was like back in it’s heyday.
June 2012 387 June 2012 395 June 2012 396 June 2012 397 June 2012 393 The architectural features of the smokestack were quite lovely and certainly unexpected for a train yard.
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The museum offers various daily programming – from guided tours of the office cars and rolling stock to turntable and blacksmithing demonstrations, it’s a ride into our country’s past! 
If you go:
  • The museum is open from 10AM – 4PM.
  • It’s hot and humid and entirely outside so dress appropriately.
  • There are tons of fine gravel paths and I hated that I had on flip flops.  Wear closed toe shoes!
  • Check the Train Ride Schedule for dates and times.
  • Parking is free!

The Express Cafe
Afterwards, we headed over to City Market and enjoyed a delish lunch at The Express Cafe.  This has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember and it’s barely changed a lick in twenty-five years.  I always looked forward to Sunday lunch here after mass at the Cathedral.  Just like always, I dined on the Hermitage sandwich (cream cheese, avocado, sprouts, tomato, cucumber on sourdough) and a Heath Bar cookie.  Note: there is no kids menu but mine split a ham sandwich.
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Ellis Square Sprayground
We wrapped up our day downtown at the Ellis Square sprayground.  It’s free and open seasonally.  While the littles let out their last bit of steam (I wish), Mother and I sat in the shade and sipped on Italian Peach Sodas from lunch.
June 2012 485 June 2012 489 June 2012 495 June 2012 504 So that, my friends, is how to entertain youngish kids in downtown Savannah.  Not nearly as glamorous as shopping at the Paris Market and lunching at The Gryphon Tea Room, but fun nonetheless!
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