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    How Many Steps Can You Walk in One Day? – Charleston Edition

    This past weekend, June flew down to Charleston, South Carolina to reunite with May for a few days of much ...

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What We’ve Learned Lately

Today we are celebrating the last Friday in April before we move into one of our two favorite months… May of course! Let the May flowers bloom!! We are always taking away lessons as we journey through life and love to share the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly. Sometimes these are profound and other times, they are just trivial.  Here are just a few things we’ve learned lately.

Our pets are our family. Make sure you stay up to date on their health with regular vet appointments, so potential problems can be caught early. Our furry family members give us so much and depend on us for love, care, and overall well being.

Meal prepping on the weekend is a godsend.  June started using a subscription service called Prepdish that sends her menus for the month.  You can pick between paleo and gluten free which means that all of the food is healthy.  The menus include a grocery list and instructions for four dinners, a side salad, a breakfast, a snack and a dessert.  She spends a couple of hours on Sunday prepping the menu items.  Sometimes this means cooking the day’s food completely and other times it means just prepping all of the ingredients to cook the day the meal will be eaten.  There are no more decisions in the evening about what to have for dinner, we are eating healthier (more fish) and throwing away less.  With only 2 people eating, we easily halve the recipes or have leftovers for lunch.

The only journey we are responsible for, is our own. It is not our job to make choices for others. When we do, we deprive them of their own experiences and life lessons. We all must walk our own path.

Take a moment to observe the beauty of nature right in your own backyard. Are rabbits nesting in the middle of your yard? June has had a mama bunny build a nest in the yard almost right outside the front door.  It has been a bit of a challenge to protect the babies from Gatsby.  We have put a little fencing around, but not enclosing the nest to try and dissuade the dog and also protect it from the lawn mower.  The mama bunny does not sit on the nest but she is always nearby.  Apparently, she only comes occasionally to feed her babies and tries not to draw attention to the nest.

When you’re traveling ,make time for an afternoon pick me up and just enjoy the scenery. (You can do this in your own town too!) It’s amazing how much you can learn by simply observing.

Have a good weekend! –May and June

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. -Henry Ford

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Some Unpopular Opinions

Are there certain things that are popular and you cannot get on the bandwagon no matter how much you try?  I have some fairly unpopular opinions about certain things.  Here are five things I dislike that everyone else seems to love.

Coconut.  I cannot stand coconut.  The texture, the taste, the everything. I had heard coconut water was good for you so I thought I would try it thinking that because it is water it could not taste too much like coconut.  Blech.  No coconut water for me.  Interestingly, I can cook with coconut milk but I am not ready to try a coconut milk latte at Starbucks any time soon.

Flip Flops.  Everyone loves their flip flops except for me.  I do wear flip flops and I don’t hate them but they are not my footwear of choice.  I wear them for pedicures.  I wear them when it’s hot out around the house or to run quick errands.  I do not wear them if I have to drive, walk any distance or if it’s chilly outside.  The last few days we have had a string of some nice weather but it has been chilly in morning.  The coat and flip flop look has been going strong.  My attitude is that if it is cold enough for a coat then it is too cold for flip flops.  And I can only wear flip flops if the part that goes in between your toes is soft.  Those cheap rubber ones hurt my feet so I usually pick Teva flip flops.

Thriller Books.  Everybody loved the books Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  There was so much hype and buzz around those two books.  I read them and quite honestly they made me so mad that I wanted to throw both of them through the window.  I guess as an author a strong reaction by a reader is not a bad thing although, maybe anger is not the reaction you want.  After reading a few more novels in the thriller genre, I have decided that I do not really like them.  However, because there is often a lot of talk around them and they are typically a fast read, I will probably still continue to read the most buzzed ones.  I guess I will never learn.

Cantaloupe.  This is another food dislike and I think I am the only one.  Every fruit salad or side of fruit includes cantaloupe and I cannot stand it.  I cannot even pick around it because the taste of cantaloupe infiltrates the flavor of every other fruit it touches.   Even the smell or mention of it makes me wrinkle my nose.   My mom likes to make fruit salads for parties and she loves cantaloupe.   However, because she must love me more, she puts the cantaloupe in a separate bowl so I don’t have to eat my fruit contaminated with cantaloupe.

Running.  I think running is a sport that you either love or hate.  I have tried to love running but just cannot.  Even when I was in really good shape, I detested running.  The whole time I run I just keep thinking, “I hate this, I cannot breathe and when is this over.”  I do other cardio exercise such as spinning or interval training but I do not like to run.  I think my body was not built to run.

Although my dislikes often elicit a strong reactions, I think it is good that we all have different preferences.  Otherwise life would be boring.  Do you have anything you really do not like that others just do not understand?  –June

 

I hate with a bitter hatred the names of lentils haricots — those pretentious cheats of the appetite, those tabulated humbugs, those certified aridites calling themselves human food!”
George Robert Gissing, English novelist

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Planning a Vacation? Try Packing Cubes

As I have recovered from my jet lag, and am back into the steady rhythm of life back at home, I’ve found myself reminiscing about our Italian adventure and everything that went along with making it a wonderful trip.

Because I knew we were going to be away for two weeks, I really wanted to be smart about how much and what I packed. In the past, I was always an over-packer and would often come home from a trip with an overstuffed messy suitcase and lots of clothing that was never worn. So, I did a little preparation and research for this trip. I went on many travel blog sights (my favorite is travelfasiongirl) chatted with friends who were seasoned travelers, and made a detailed list of essentials that would get me through a European vacation without over or under doing it- a happy medium if you will. On more than one occasion, I read about the benefits packing cubes.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, packing cubes are nylon mesh bags that come in a variety of sizes and styles, and are used for packing clothing. They provide extra room in your suitcase, plus they keep the contents of your suitcase super organized. The bags zip and have some give so you can fit a lot into them and they work with carry on bags, suitcases and backpacks.

This was a work trip for my husband with us extending several days and I needed more clothing options for dinner with clients, so I opted for a regular size suitcase and a backpack, leaving my carry on at home. (I also wanted room for souvenirs.) The packing cubes are great for t-shirts, blouses, and skirts. It was recommended that clothes be rolled and tightly packed into the cubes to prevent wrinkling. This was a plus for me because in Italy, irons aren’t available in the rooms and there is a fee to have them ironed for you. Now I can’t say that my clothes were completely wrinkle free, but they were definitely wearable plus I was able to release any lingering wrinkles in a steamy shower.

I heard good things about the ebags brand and ordered a pack of three from Amazon to try them out. I was able to get all my t-shirts, blouses, and skirts into the bags and if there was room to spare, I added a few more items. When we arrived at our hotel and I went to unpack, everything was still organized plus there was extra room in my suitcase. Before my next big trip, I plan to order a few more in different sizes.

Unpacking when we came back home was easy and this was the first time I wore everything I packed. Plus, there was extra room for me to bring home a few goodies.

Enjoy your week!

~May

Going on a trip and need about 4 outfits. I’ve packed 35 just to be safe.

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April Books

It’s Friday and time for our April book picks. The weather is warming up which means fun summer beach reads are just around the corner. We both are dreaming about warm evenings reading on the back porch……but for now, we think you’ll enjoy these recent reads.

The Sugar Men by Ray Kingfisher

From Amazon:

Sixty-four years ago, Susannah Morgan managed to flee the horrors of the Holocaust. But the memories of that childhood ordeal have proven impossible to sweep away.

For most of her new life spent settled in sleepy North Carolina, the flashbacks have been a lonely obsession—one she has hidden from her family, and about which her heart is torn. Because for all the pain and the cruelty of those terrible years, she harbours sweet memories too, of unexpected friends who risked their own lives in order to save hers. As Susannah’s time on earth draws to a close, her innermost thoughts of those long-gone days become questions—ones that demand answers.

Against the wishes of her children, Susannah returns to Germany and the scene of unspeakable crimes. There she will come face to face with the Holocaust’s terrible, wretched legacy, and will finally make peace with the ghosts of her past.

Our thoughs:  We’ve both read a lot of books about WWII and the Holocaust. This particular novel focuses on the life of Susannah Morgan, going back and forth between present time in North Carolina and Nazi occupied Germany. This was our first novel read by this particular author and we felt the transition between time periods was smooth and the book was written with much sensitivity considering the subject matter. A tissue or two may be needed.

Savannah Blues: A Novel by Mary Kay Andrews

 

From Amazon:

Meet Weezie (aka Eloise) Foley, a feisty antiques “picker,” banished by her spiteful ex-husband from the house she herself restored in Savannah’s historic district, who must come to terms with a life that has suddenly changed…and  not, it, seems for the better. In Mary Kay Andrews’s delectable New York Times bestseller, Savannah Blues, readers will feel the sultry Georgia breezes and taste sea salt in the air, as they lose themselves in a wonderful, witty tale brimming with sass and peopled by a richly endearing cast of delightfully eccentric characters. Revenge is sweeter than sweet in Mary Kay’s capable hands, and readers of Fannie Flagg, Adriana Trigiani, Emily Giffin, Rebecca Wells, and Jill Conner Browne will definitely want to spend some quality time in Savannah.

Our thoughts:  This was a fun, fun, fun novel by Mary Kay Andrews. It was easy to fall in love with her quirky characters and if you love Savannah and antiques, you are going to enjoy this mystery. Her descriptive writing makes you feel that you are actually part of the sultry Georgia climate and by the end, you too will want to spend a little time in Savannah. If you enjoy this one, don’t worry, Mary Kay Andrews has many more novels worth reading.

Exit West: A Novel by Moshin Hamid

From Amazon:

As featured in the Skimm, on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Fresh Air, PBS Newshour, the cover of the New York Times Book Review, and more, an astonishingly visionary love story that imagines the forces that drive ordinary people from their homes into the uncertain embrace of new lands.

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .

Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

Our thoughts:  This is first and foremost a love story about the two main characters.  And sometimes how being with the familiar is more important than true love.  This is also a very timely story about migrants given current events.  This is not a story about the journey of migration which is a story that has been told many times, but is a story of how you acclimate once you have migrated.  The author uses a trip through a special kind of door to move the characters from one place to another.  The story does not focus on this but it is adds an element of magic to the book.  This book has been much buzzed about as of late and is worth the read.

Happy reading and have a great weekend. Don’t forget to share your great reads!

~May and June

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
 

 

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Pantry Dinners

Pantry Dinners

We were out of town the end of last week for the Easter weekend.  We returned home Monday evening and the last thing I wanted to do after a 10 hour road trip was head to the grocery store.  So, we are punting this week with no fresh groceries.  In order to feed us without resorting to eating out, I am thinking pantry meals.

If you have chicken in the freezer, Chicken Tacos are a great pantry meal.  Some chicken, taco spices, cheese and your slow cooker makes for an easy dinner.  If you do not have tortillas, do burrito bowls over lettuce or serve it as chicken nachos with chips.

Similarly, if you have ground beef in the freezer instead of chicken, you can make Slow Cooker Beef Tacos.  I am sensing that Mexican food is a good pantry meal.

We are also fans of all of the frozen burgers at Trader Joe’s.  Our favorites are the Grass-Fed Beef Burgers, the Turkey Burgers and the Chicken Lime Chile Burgers.  They can go right on the grill from the freezer and are ready in around 10 minutes.  Add some frozen veggies and you have a full meal.  I regularly serve mine on lettuce rather than a bun.  A guacamole topper on the Turkey or Chicken Burgers is delicious.

Breakfast for dinner is always a good option for a pantry meal.  Scramble up some eggs and toast or get fancy and make an omelet with all the leftovers in your refrigerator.  If you like to have a sweet dinner, pancakes are always delicious.

Because I just ate it for lunch, tuna salad can also be tasty for dinner as well.  A can of tuna, some mayo and mustard all mixed together then add in some celery and a little salt and pepper.  Serve on a nice crusty roll or on top of a mixed green salad for a light dinner.

Pasta seems to live in everyone’s pantry and it can be mixed with so many things.  Once again Trader Joe’s has pantry items you can keep for just these situations.  They have great marinara sauce.  However, I like pesto on my pasta or even just a bit of olive oil and parmesan cheese.  If you want to add in some protein, try some leftover chicken or look for the frozen grilled chicken strips.

Appetizers for dinner can make a great pantry meal.  I often keep a few frozen appetizers in my freezer also all from Trader Joe’s such as mini chicken tacos, mozzarella sticks or lobster shrimp bites.  If we are really pinched, I can warm a few of these up and enjoy them as a meal.

Finally, not the healthiest of options, but often when I am home by myself for the evening, I plan on a dinner of cheese and crackers.  I try to plan a little ahead of time and have some tasty cheeses in my fridge like an aged cheddar, a brie or a blue cheese.  Then I indulge in a few fancier crackers such as Mary Gone Crackers or water crackers or even some crusty bread, pour myself a glass of wine and sit back and enjoy. –June

 

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

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Quiet Moments

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend. We had a beautiful day and while Sawyer and I were out for our early morning walk, I enjoyed seeing the little ones in our neighborhood, armed with Easter baskets as they ran around their homes searching for Easter eggs in cozy pj’s, their tired parents (also in pj’s) stifling yawns and armed with coffee mugs, following close behind. The smell of pancakes and bacon throughout the neighborhood was intoxicating.  By the time we made it back to our porch, cars were driving down the street, its occupants dressed in their Sunday best as they headed off to Easter service. It was a lovely day.

Since returning from Italy, my internal alarm clock has been waking me up at 5am. I don’t know if my body is just taking its sweet time adjusting back to our time zone, or if it’s simply the subtle shift in the seasons. Over time, I’ve noticed my body has always been very much in tune with the sunrise and sunset. This morning, I again was awake early and left Sawyer dreaming in the quiet sanctuary of the bedroom. I made a cup of coffee and went outside onto the piazza to listen to the first stirrings of morning. I love hearing the birds when I wake up, especially the familiar tune the cardinals sing, along with the occasional owl.

I’ve always loved the peace that comes just before sunrise. For me, it’s a time for reflection, gratitude, and preparation for a new day. It’s a time when I can set my intention for how I want my day to go. Do I want those that I interact with to have the power to affect how I feel? Or, do I simply want to live this day to the fullest for myself? For me, gratitude is part of everyday. Saying thank you for what I have, as well as what I don’t have keeps me present and my life meaningful. How easy is it for us to constantly be worrying about what may or may not happen in the future? When we do that, we miss the beauty and subtle messages that come with today. For me, “thank you” is the most meaningful part of prayer.

Now, as I continue to reflect, the birds songs are growing louder and I’ve noticed a few lights turning on in my neighbors homes. Soon, everyone’s day will begin as cars and school buses make their way down the street. The light outside is beginning to change as the sun prepares to rise and shine on what promises to be another beautiful day, and I feel connected and at peace. Sawyer, now awake, has found me and soon will be ready to start his day too…..after a few quiet moments of reflection.

Thank You.

Have a great day.

~May

A quiet mind is able to hear intuition over fear.

 

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Happy Easter! – Treats and Tablescapes

Are you hosting Easter this year? Perhaps you’re having a brunch or a dinner? It’s hard to believe spring is here and we’re about to celebrate Easter this weekend, but we are not complaining. We are loving the longer days along with the daffodils and colorful tulips popping out of the ground. Today we have an easy holiday treat and centerpiece to celebrate Easter. May is not hosting Easter this year, but wanted to bring a festive treat for the dessert table. She preferred to keep it quick and simple and while looking at some favorite recipes, decided to put […]

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Sunday Scaries – How to Combat

Do you suffer from the Sunday Scaries?  If you don’t know what they are, the Sunday Scaries are those feelings you have on Sunday of anxiety and dread at the week ahead.  I have the Sunday Scaries most weeks.  It’s a hard feeling to describe.  It starts as a bit of anxiety because Monday is looming.  There is also a sense of being overwhelmed at not accomplishing everything you wanted over the weekend, including just having some down time. There is a bit of sadness in there too because the weekend is almost over.  The worst is that it ruins […]

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May Meets Pompeii and Sorrento

We have spent an incredible two weeks in Italy and before we journeyed home, we made a few more stops. Our wonderful guide, Sandra, suggested we do a tour of Pompeii followed by an afternoon in Sorrento. The fast train in Italy is amazing. A three hour car ride takes one hour so we left early in the morning, and made it to the city of Naples before 9am. The Fast Train Pompeii was just a short drive away and neither Bob or I were prepared for the beauty left in the ruins of this Roman city. In 79 A.D., […]

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The Purge Continues

At the beginning of Lent, I told you about my Lenten challenge.  I was going to get rid of 40 bags in 40 days. This was not only a housecleaning project, but a spiritual one.  The intent was to get rid of things that were no longer serving.  By getting rid of the material, I hoped to let go of the non-material.  The purge has continued at my house and I do not mean that horror movie that I refuse to watch.  These are a few things that have helped me in this process. First, before taking on this challenge, […]

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May Meets Rome

I can’t believe we’ve been in Italy over a week already!! We have been having such a wonderful time on our Italian adventure. After spending several days seeing the sites in Florence, we are now  slowly eating our way through Rome.  This sprawling city is the capital of Italy and nearly 3,000 years old. We have walked between 5-8 miles everyday trying to soak it all in, and have loved every minute. Some of our best moments have been spent sitting at little outdoor cafes with our favorite gelato or a cappuccino, and simply people watching. Today we are taking […]

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Forever is the Worst Long Time

March Books

It’s time for some book picks for March.  These are books we have recently read.  We are also busy reading book news and listening to podcasts and getting excited about books being released this summer. Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan From Amazon: From acclaimed author Camille Pagán comes a wry, heartfelt exploration of love and loss. When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire. […]

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What To Do When Everyone Else Is On Spring Break

This week is spring break in our local schools.  Sadly, I am not on spring break but instead currently sitting in my windowless office.  From Facebook, all of my friends and neighbors are in exotic or at least warm locations like Mexico, Tennessee and Florida (especially Florida).  May is on the trip of a lifetime to Italy.  I am a bit envious of these warm weather vacations.  In the meantime, my husband and I feel like the sole survivors of a zombie apocalypse when we walk Gatsby through the neighborhood when not another soul is seen or detected.  So what […]

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May Meets Florence

Bonjourno from Florence, Italy! I am in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and fell in love the minute we walked out our hotel door and started roaming the narrow streets. We had a bit of jet lag when we arrived, but who can sleep when there is so much to explore? The fashion, food, and the people are wonderful and we have enjoyed learning all about this picturesque city which is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. As much as I love the fashion and food, I can’t say enough about the people here. They are […]

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Rainy Day Adventures

It is officially spring and along with new life poking up from the cold damp earth, we are starting to hear the beautiful sound of chirping birds in the morning, as well as the wonderful feeling of the warm sun as we gently turn our faces up toward the sky, our bodies eager to drink in some much needed vitamin D. Spring is also the time we experience those rainy days that are so needed to wash away the stillness of winter, and encouraging new growth to take its place with beautiful blooms in shades of pink, yellow, and red. […]

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Viewing Your Life Through A Screen

Last Tuesday night, I went to a concert with my husband.  The performer was not my choice.  My husband thinks though that he is still young and hip, so we saw Ariana Grande perform (and some other people who I did not even know).  The audience was young for the most part.  We had crazy close seats on the floor and a great view of the stage.  However, that view was obstructed by everyone in front of us holding up their phones to record the show.  The guy immediately in front of me recorded the whole concert.   We go […]

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A Sweet Day With My Sweet Girl

Happy Monday everyone! Our family reunited this past week for a little R&R, Charleston style. We’ve  spent the last few months in different locations and it was so nice to have several days to catch up on life and enjoy each other’s company.  Nicole, who just ended her spring break from USC, arrived a few days before the rest of the family, and the two of us had fun spending some quality time together. We cooked, watched movies, ran errands, and shopped of course. Although the weather was a bit brisk last week- too cold for the beach, the sun […]

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Celebrating A Little Luck of the Irish

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today everyone is Irish, whether by birth or by choice.  Both of us do have Irish in our heritage so we thought it would be fun to list all things Irish to help you celebrate. The Shamrock. To impart an irishness on anything, shamrock is added to it. We have the McDonald’s shamrock shake. Foot races called the shamrock shuffle or the shamrock beer run.  The shamrock is the symbol of St. Patrick’s Day because of the patron saint of the day.  Shamrocks, a clover type of grass, grow plentiful in Ireland and were considered sacred […]

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Curb Appeal- Part 2

Hi, Everyone! I hope you are all recovering from losing a precious hour of sleep this past weekend. It always takes a few days to get back into the swing of things when we spring forward, but it is so worth having longer days. Summer is just around the corner! A few months ago, I shared some of my curb appeal goals for our new home. It has been a lovely winter here in the south, which was perfect for dressing up our front yard and exterior of the house. I started with a weekend painting project, giving our front […]

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What We’ve Learned Lately

Happy Friday! No matter what is happening in our busy lives, we are always learning new things. Sometimes these new things are profound. Sometimes they are silly. Sometimes they are little hacks that make life easier, and sometimes they are an interesting fact or two that can make life more interesting . Here are a few things we’ve learned lately. The difference between a graveyard and a cemetery is that a graveyard is connected to a church.  If the church closes then the graveyard becomes a cemetery. If you are having any work done around your house, clean your closets […]

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