Archive for category Living

The Great American Eclipse Coming to North Georgia!

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photo credit: eclipse.siu.edu

The first total solar eclipse to cross the entire United States in almost 100 years will be taking place Monday, August 21, 2017. And we here in Georgia get a prime spot to view the total eclipse as it crosses the northern part of the state.

The AJC reports: “According to NASA, the center-line path of totality — where the moon completely blocks the sun, the earth goes dark and the sun’s corona shimmers in the blackened sky — will stretch from Salem, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina, and will last up to 2 minutes and 41.6 seconds.

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Path of the Great American Eclipse via NASA

While folks in Atlanta will be able to see a short partial eclipse from spots in the city, many of us are planning to head north to see the full eclipse. Chase’s school will be doing field trips by grade level to spots in the path of the total eclipse to watch; and I plan on finding a good spot with some friends to watch.

365 Atlanta Family has a great list of north Georgia peaks and open spots where you can get the best unobstructed view of this phenomenon. They have included the times as the eclipse progresses across the state as well as links to state parks and resorts to help with planning. Rabun County is the most directly affected spot in Georgia and there are a lot of events planned in the days around the eclipse to commemorate it.

If you’re unable to make it out of the city (or have family members outside the eclipse path), don’t worry: NASA will be live-streaming the eclipse! They have set up a special website with lots of great info about the science as well as tips to get the most out of the experience.

It’s important  to remember to take precautions to protect your eyes when viewing the eclipse, even if you are planning to see the partial eclipse.  Protective glasses or indirect viewing methods will keep your eyes safe during this unique event.

Are any of you planning to travel to see the Great American Eclipse? Let us know where you’re headed or any tips for finding the best spot to view in the comments!

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Why Thanksgiving Is So Special To Me: My Adoption Story

This is National Adoption Day and November is National Adoption Month.  For me its also a special week, Thanksgiving is a time for everyone to reflect on what we’re thankful for, but to me it means a whole lot more.  Here is my story:

 The above pictures were from the baby home when we first met Dima at 11 months.  The pictures on the right are from the court house in Kemerovo on the court date where they declated that Dima was now Chase.

Adopting one child will not change the world; but for that child, the world will change.

11 years ago my mom and I made the trip to Kemerovo, Russia to bring home my son. Attached is a story that I wrote back then for my adoption agency. This week always reminds me of that journey and ALL I have to be Thankful for. I can’t believe it was that long ago!

The Journey for Chase :

My journey to adopt a child unofficially began in 2003. I made the trip to Bulgaria with my sister-in-law to bring home her two children. From then on I had the idea that I wanted to adopt a child from an Eastern European country. Finally in 2004 when I was preparing my year-end financials, I decided I would finally be able to afford the process and had a consistent enough income to support a child on my own.
I am single. So in January of 2005 I began the process with a local agency here in Atlanta thinking they could help me through the process. By April, I had all of my paperwork done and was “paper ready”, that agency sent my dossier to one Russian Region, where it sat… Week after week I heard different reasons why nothing was happening in that region and that it would pick up any day, but by the middle of July I was getting tired of the excuses and decided to network around and inquire online to find out about what agencies had people traveling and to what regions etc. A friend recommended me to Adoption ARK (now out of business due to Russia being closed to adoptions), she put me in touch with several people who were traveling within very short times from becoming “paper ready”. I contacted Elina and she was in Russia at the time and a week later she emailed me and told me they weren’t currently working in Krasnodar (that was the region I had done the paperwork for with the other agency) since nothing had been moving there in such a long time. She also told me that she expected to have some more children available next week and to contact her that Wednesday. Well by Monday evening, I had an email with a picture of this darling little boy – Dima. I asked what I had to do, she sent me a list and I was off on recreating my dossier, and getting everything ready for his different region.
I traveled within 2 weeks to meet him, a darling little boy whose name was Dima and went back for court within 7 weeks. From beginning to end the process was under 3 months! My little guy – (now called Chase) is healthy, happy and so loved by the entire extended family. We’ve been home 3 months now and he acts like he’s been here his whole life. He gained 5 pounds in 2 months and grew 2 inches. He has already outgrown the clothes I brought him home in and understands English and Spanish (his nanny is Spanish). He speaks a few words and kisses good-bye. He is the light of my life and he has the ability to cheer anyone up. Everyone keeps saying how happy he is and he really is…

The picture of Chase in his reindeer was the first night in our hotel in Kemerovo.  We had given him as much formula as he wanted and he proceeded to throw up on me!  The picture in the tub was at home.  The other pictures were a few weeks later when he made the trip to Charleston to meet all the family.

I still remember that week and what happened daily.  My Mom and I flew out on a Saturday evening arriving in Kemerovo on a Monday morning.  They immediately whisked us off to my court date which took most of the morning.  Later that day there was more paperwork to do and the next morning (Tuesday) we made the journey with several other families via a van to Novokuznetsk.  We had issues with the Van with fuel line freeze up and we sat on the side of the road in Siberia while they sent another van to us.  By the time we got to the baby home it was afternoon.  No time for a tour, but I do remember seeing this beautiful baby in a light blue knit outfit and my mother and I commented on pretty he was.  It had only been a month since we had seen “Dima” but that was him.  No time for a tour, we got our babies and they loaded us back into our van to head back to Kemerovo for more processing.  By Thursday on Thanksgiving we were in Moscow to meet with the embassy doctor and more processing.  There was no turkey to be found at any of the hotels or restaurants we had contacted.  So we just ate a regular meal in the Park Hyatt Hotel in Moscow.  All went well and Friday we were headed home!  That’s a very abbreviated version of what happened, but as you can see it makes every Thanksgiving that much more special with the memories.  Hope you have a very special Thanksgiving this year as well full of your special memories!

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Timeless Southern Porches

 

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There are few things that say “Southern charm” like a comfortable, shady porch. There is something really special about enjoying an iced tea or a glass of wine, having a relaxed weekend meal, or relaxing with a book outdoors on the porch. They say “welcome to my home” and create a timeless first impression.

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A twilight welcome at 2741 Vinings Orchard Circle

Although our summers can be hot, living in Atlanta means we get at least three seasons of use out of our porches.

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photo credit: sunbrella.com

As a realtor, I’m seeing the screened in porch as a big draw for potential buyers as well. Not only does a porch keep some of the harsh sunlight and heat out of your home, but a screened porch adds a lot of usable indoor/outdoor living space for a fraction of the cost of a home addition.

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photo credit: Ontheporch.com

Southern porches can be as simple as a covered patio on the front of the house to a screened room with luxurious furnishings and a fireplace, surround sound, and entertainment center.

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Fantastic vaulted porch with fireplace at 2727 Lansdowne Lane

Furnishings are usually casual with comfort in mind. Rocking chairs are always welcome and it’s hard to go wrong with a porch swing.

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Senoia, Ga Idea House front porch swing// photo credit: southernliving.com

 

Adding a ceiling fan can really enhance the comfort level and screening in a porch keeps out pests and makes outdoor dining a breeze. What could be better than summer entertaining with an outdoor kitchen and dining area on a porch?

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My listing at 2741 Vinings Orchard Circle has incredible porches on every level of the home

There is a style of porch for every architectural style too, from rustic to neoclassical, low country to modern. Even pool houses and walk-out basement entrances are getting the screened porch treatment.

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photo credit: styleblueprint.com

Adding shutters is a classic touch that also creates more privacy on a porch (and is a great place for kids to camp out during sleepovers).

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photo credit: styleblueprint.com

Architectural and style trends may come and go, but a classic southern element like a great porch is timeless.

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UPDATE: Time to register for Atlanta Summer Camps

I have some great updates for that  Atlanta summer camps post I did a couple of months ago!

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photo credit: Josh Powell Summer Camp

 

Much to the dismay of many families,  Josh Powell Camp announced that they had closed their doors last year.  Then today I read an article that they are open again!  It is available for boys and girls who are rising 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders.  But since they were closed last year, this year only, they are taking rising 4th graders as well to allow children the full 3 year camp experience.  Chase went all 3 years and has aged out now,  but it truly is an camp experience he enjoyed.  It still has many openings and I think that is due to the belief that it closed down, but here is the weblink to hurry and register your child; they are frequently updating their Facebook page as well for more details.  They pick up at West Paces and Northside and drive the kids out to the country.  They get muddy and hot, but I know nature  boys and girls love it!

I also heard about a few more camps that I want to tell you about for those of you who haven’t finalized your summer camp plans yet. The original post  has  all the updated information is available in one place, but here are some new camp options I wanted to highlight:

  • Club SciKidz is a science and technology camp for boys and girls ages 4-15. They have locations throughout the metro Atlanta area. Currently registering for camps beginning June 6.
  • CampMODA: a Design Thinking Camp is being presented by the Museum of Design Atlanta at 4 locations: MODA’s Midtown campus, The Lovett School, GA Tech’s College of Architecture, and First Presbyterian Preschool on Peachtree. Programs are available for children ages 5-14 are are now registering for summer sessions. Check out Field Trips With Sue‘s write up for more details on the camp (and great ideas for kids activities in general).
  • GA Tech Lacrosse Camps focuses on older children looking to really polish their lacrosse skills but has both day and overnight camps for boys and girls ages 8-18

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Atlanta Holiday Ice Skating

photo credit: getkanga.com

photo credit: getkanga.com

I know many of you didn’t grow up ice skating or roller skating for the most part, but those from the North may be seeking a bit of their past that is rare to find down here in the south.  We now have several places you can go this winter to get your ice skating fix.  When I grew up, the ice skating rink was the hang out to meet your friends, and when it got really cold we could skate on friend’s ponds.  I had friends that would get to know lots of people from different schools from hanging out at the roller rink and down here you can hardly find one!  Well, here they are, hope you can enjoy a fun weekend day with your children, or perhaps a birthday party.  We do have them, just not as many.

photo credit: stregisatlanta.com

photo credit: stregisatlanta.com

The St. Regis Atlanta Astor Holiday Ice Skating Rink:

November 21, 2015 through January 3, 2016.

  • 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm Monday through Friday
  • 9:00 am – 9:00 pm Saturday and Sunday
  • *Special Hours* December 19 through December 24: 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • *Special Hours* December 25: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • $30 per hour for adults & $18 per hour for children under 16 plus tax and 20% service charge
  • Last skate reservation is 8 p.m.

Reservations are recommended.  Call The St. Regis Atlanta Holiday Desk at 404.563.7797 for reservations and more information.

Centennial Olympic Park Ice Skating Rink:

November 21, 2015- January 10, 2016

  • Monday – Thursday 4:30pm – 10:00pm
  • Friday 4:30pm – 11:00pm
  • Saturday 10:00am – 11:00pm
  • Sunday 10:00am – 10:00pm

Admission is $12.00 per person for a 90- minute session (including skate rental)

Rink @Park Tavern at Piedmont Park

  • Monday- Friday 4:30pm-Midnight (21+ 8pm-Midnight)
  • Saturday & Sunday 11:30am-Midnight (21+ 8pm-Midnight)

All-day skate for $15 – $20 for all ages until 8pm. At 8:30pm the SW Rink is a 18+ venue until Midnight.

SKATE Atlantic Station:

November 21, 2015- February 14, 2016

  • Monday-Thursday: 4:00PM-10:00PM
  • Friday-Saturday: 3:00PM-11:00PM
  • Sunday: 3:00PM-11:00PM
  • Holidays: 3:00PM-11:00PM

General Admission is $13.00 with discounts for military, seniors, and students. Call Concierge at (404) 410-4010 for more information.

photo credit: sweet jack.com

photo credit: sweet jack.com

I’ve also just learned that an ice rink is coming to Marietta Square this holiday season! It’s scheduled to open November 30. No specifics on hours or admission have been announced yet, but I’ll post more info on Facebook when I get details.

For year-round ice skating and roller skating, check out these rinks:

Marietta Ice Center has hockey league teams but there is also public skating available. Here’s the calendar or you can call or email for more information

  • Email: Info@MariettaIceCenter.com
  • Phone: 770-509-5067

Center Ice Arena in Sandy Springs offers hockey, curling, special events, and public skating. Here’s the calendar and their contact information

  • Email: centericearenaga@gmail.com
  • Phone: 404-549-8425

Sparkles Family Fun Centers has several roller skating locations around Atlanta, including Smyrna and Kennesaw. They have public skating but are also set up for parties with concessions and packages.

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Pirch Cooking Demo: Pink Himalayan Salt Block Cooking

We learned all about salt block cooking

Pink Himalayan Salt Block Shrimp

I can’t say enough good things about the experience we had at my event at Pirch. I’ve talked about their space and the wonderful event staff but I wanted to tell you more about one of the highlights of the evening: the cooking demo. I had never heard of salt block cooking but let me tell you, I am sold! The chef made a really wonderful but simple shrimp dish on a pink Himalayan salt block; we we all really impressed by how he simply sauteed the shrimp on the heated block and it was really delicious, just lightly infused with salt.

I found an interview with Mark Bitterman on The Splendid Table (a great cooking radio show and podcast) who wrote the book that our demo was based on: Salt Block Cooking 101  He explains the technique and how to care for your salt block. I have his cookbook and can’t wait to try making shrimp on it at home. I also noticed that it can be used on the grill, which is great since we are lucky in Atlanta to be able to grill almost year round, and also saw some really great looking cold salads like watermelon and feta in the book.

This recipe from Sur la Table is similar to the one we loved at Pirch:

photo credit: Surletable.com

photo credit: Surlatable.com

Salt Block Honey and Black Pepper Shrimp

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1-½ teaspoons cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound large shrimp, cleaned
  • Kosher sea salt, as needed

Procedures:

Grilling shrimp brings out their natural sweetness, and grilling them directly on a Himalayan salt block, imparts a subtle salty note to the shellfish. Make sure to heat the salt block slowly on the grill or in an oven to prevent cracking. Also make sure to give the block several hours to cool to room temperature before lightly scrubbing under running water.

Prepare the Himalayan Salt Block: Place a completely dry Himalayan salt block on a cold charcoal or gas grill. Light grill and heat slowly to 400 degrees. Once grill reaches temperature, allow salt block to heat for another 20 to 30 minutes. Alternately, set salt block on a rimmed baking sheet, place on a rack in the center of a cold oven and heat to 400 degrees. Once oven reaches temperature, allow salt block to heat for another 20 to 30 minutes.

To make the honey cracked pepper glaze: In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook until shallots have softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the honey, lemon juice and black pepper. Stir to combine, then taste and season with salt and pepper.

Cook the shrimp: Using a silicone pastry brush, brush shrimp with glaze mixture. Place shrimp directly on salt block and cook until lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, turn shrimp onto a clean spot on the block. Brush again with glaze and continue cooking until the center is slightly opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes more.

To serve: Divide shrimp between 4 heated serving plates. Drizzle with 2 to 3 tablespoons of reserved glaze mixture and serve immediately.

Via the Sur la Table test kitchen

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Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays – It’s what’s for dinner!

After the scorching days we’ve had recently, today is the perfect day to head over to Smyrna’s Taylor-Brawner Park, enjoy the sunshine and have dinner. Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays is exactly what is sounds like – a delicious variety of food trucks parked at Taylor-Brawner every Tuesday between May 7 and September 24. They are open from 5-9pm but it isn’t a bad idea to get there a little early, beat the traffic, and get some playground time in or snag a shady spot for your blanket before you eat. There is even live music!

Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays

The band playing this week is The Stoplight Roses, and the food trucks will be:

Freckled & Blue
Happy Belly
Blaxican
Pressed For Time
Buen Provecho
Soup’R Noodles
Yumbii
Mix’d Up
Ibiza Bites
Yum Yum Cupcake
King of Pops

 

Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays

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Visit the Smyrna City page for weekly updates and for more information about getting there and parking. The address is 3180 Atlanta Road, Smyrna, GA 30082. If you live in the area, don’t be surprised to see your neighbors walking or biking over. It’s a great way to get outside, let the kids run on the playground or in the grass, and let someone else cook dinner.

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Play time in Atlanta

Summer is here and we are all looking for things to do with our children. I ran across this great article – a list of Atlanta’s Top 10 Parks and Playground. Some of these might be old favorites, but it’s always good to learn about new parks when you need to mix up your summer routine.

Run, Swing, Slide: The 10 Best Atlanta Playgrounds

Before summer starts to swelter here in Hotlanta, it is time to take this outside, parents. We scoured the city and rounded up 10 playgrounds that are a breath of fresh air and a guaranteed boredom buster. These parks have something for everyone—even the grown-ups. Consider this your bitty’s bucket list. Enjoy!

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While our local Vinings/Smyrna playgrounds didn’t make the list, I’ll add my own recommendations:

Vinings: Cochise Riverview Club (members only): we have our own great playground by the pool.
Smyrna: There is a great playground by St Benedict’s. It is very clean, and young and older kids both enjoy this one.
Smyrna: Just up Atlanta Road is Taylor-Brawner Park. Besides having a great playground, it is also the site for Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays. Take your kids for the playground and stay for dinner or popsicles.
Buckhead: Beaverbrook Park. It’s very quiet and has a lot of shade for these hot, summer days.
Rainy Days: We’ve all used McDonalds and Chick Fila in a pinch or on a rainy day – can’t beat it.

Smyrna's Taylor-Brawner Park

Smyrna’s Taylor-Brawner Park

Are any of these your favorites? If not, where are your go-to playgrounds or parks?

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Special Invitation to the Luxury Living Show

 

Luxury Living Show Announcement

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Favorite designs: Bunk Rooms

I’ve always looked at pictures of bunk rooms on Houzz and dreamed about building them into the beach house I’d have one day. They would, of course, have a nautical theme.

Well, my neighbors beat me to it – the bunk room, not the beach house.  They took a dark room in their basement and had the builder finish it out super cute for their two girls. Each bed has a cubby-hole for a night light and whatever else the child wants to stash in there.

bunk room

Obviously, my son now wants one in a boy theme. He’s at the perfect age so if I’m going to do it, now is probably the time. I imagine this will be THE place for sleepovers for many years to come! If you need the builders name or pricing, just email me and I’ll share it with you.

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