A Mid-Summer Hello

Can you believe it is already mid-July? I tend to be a bit more nostalgic in the summer. Perhaps it is the slowing down, or the little visits to see family, or vacations. I find it to be such a good time to reflect on life.

Working from home the day to day isn't super exciting...unless you count drinking coffee-wearing yoga pants-and multitasking fun! I find looking back at the past few months helps ground me in what I'm doing in life, and how we are doing as a family too. So: a few highlights of our summer so far.

Painting the master bedroom. This has been on my to-do list for almost a year! It is finally happening, and I couldn't be happier with how it is turning out. I'll share after pictures on the blog once it is complete. For now, follow along on Snapchat and Instagram!

Blogger Photography Class. I've been getting more involved with the Charlotte Food Bloggers group. From the informative blogging brunch to last month's photography class with Asharae Kroll, I love learn things locally without going to a conference every month. Talking shop with other food bloggers is pretty awesome too!

Family Visits. We've visited both sets of grandparents this summer, along with my grandparents (GGMA and Papa Jack.) Family brings me joy and I'm so happy we are able to connect. When we lived in Minnesota we did not see family often, it is such a gift! I loved picking blueberries with my Grandaddy and my daughter. We used his blueberries a few months ago to make a blueberry syrup that that is oh-so-good. 

Family Vacation. We took a small family vacation 3 hours south to Charleston, SC. It is absolutely beautiful there and entrenched with history. We enjoyed the ocean, the aquarium, and the USS Yorktown museum. Already daydreaming about our next visit (it might just become a yearly tradition!) Though I have to give a disclaimer that humidity is real (hashtag frizzy hair) and your best plan visiting Charleston in the summer is to stay near or in water!

Have you had any fun trips this summer, or hope to tackle a new hobby? I'd love to hear about it!

finding beauty in a simple summer

Contentment. What an elusive word.

Rest and relaxation do not come naturally to me. In my mind I have at least 50 things to do each day, some creative (like developing content for this site) and some basics: keep our children alive (ha!) laundry (!), pay bills, walk the dog, and feed the fish. Did I mention we purchased a fish? At the moment its name is Mary.

making time to play in   our new playroom

making time to play in our new playroom

“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.”  Leo Tolstoy, Family Happiness

a day trip earlier this summer to Lake Lure

a day trip earlier this summer to Lake Lure

"True contentment is a real, even an active virtue - not only affirmative but creative. It is the power of getting out of any situation all there is in it." G.K. Chesterton

from   our Charleston getaway  . he napped and I read books. perfection! 

from our Charleston getaway. he napped and I read books. perfection! 

And then, if I am completely honest, there is summertime jealousy. I see beautiful trips to Hawaii and Europe on Facebook and Instagram. I forget that just last month my husband and I snuck away for a few nights in Charleston and dwell on the fact that I want another vacation. Vacations are not at all a bad thing! But dwelling on something to the point of bitterness: that will not go anywhere good.

So today I am choose contentment. Joy in present circumstances. A thankful heart for all God has given us. I am thankful we are not dealing with the craziness of moving (like last summer!), that our kids have made friends, and we feel settled in our new state. I am thankful for this site to write, create ideas, and develop new content. That we have an adorable (mischievous) puppy after months of saving.

That for the first time we grew vegetables in our back yard. And every day we can pull up a little basil and mint to spice up recipes.

That when our kids are bored enough: they magically start getting along and find water balloons to fill, papers that need painting, and scooters that need riding.

What are you thankful for today?

++linking up with Emily Freeman to share a few things I learned in July.

6 tips for visiting Charleston, SC (on a budget!)

Last week my husband and I visited Charleston for an early ten year anniversary getaway. Reflecting back on our photos I saw a trend: we naturally looked for ways to save money throughout the trip. Spending is normal on vacation, and we enjoy it! But we also set a budget before our trip and did our best to stick to it.

Here are 6 tips for visiting downtown Charleston, SC....on a budget!

1. Study the hotel rates. 

The travel books will recommend not visiting in July & August due to heat and humidity. We visited in early July and the temps were in the low 90s late in the afternoon. The heat did not bother us and the rates were lower than spring and fall. We also saved $100 a night by staying on weeknights vs. visiting over the weekend.

2. A walking self-tour.

Carriage tours will cost a couple $50. If you really want a carriage tour, absolutely go for it! But we saved money by walking ourselves throughout Meeting Street, King Street, the Waterfront Park, and City Market. History and beautiful architecture will surround you as you walk throughout the downtown. (and we felt less guilty for the fried Southern food we ate after our walks!)

King Street, Charleston SC

King Street, Charleston SC

3. Visit the beach.

Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island are within a 30 minute drive of downtown Charleston. Isle of Palms has a clean, slightly touristy family atmosphere. Isle of Palms has public beach access with parking, bathrooms, and a playground. Sullivan's Island has a quiet residential feel with good restaurants and street parking for the beach (be sure to carefully read the signs). No public restrooms. While on Sullivan's Island visit Fort Moultrie, a piece of history built in 1776 (admission $3 per adult).

Sullivan's Island, SC

Sullivan's Island, SC

4. Pick a hotel with amenities.

A hotel with perks like free breakfast, happy hour, or free parking will save a lot. We stayed at the Ansonborough Inn: it included free breakfast (saving us at least $15 a day), free coffee/tea throughout the day, and a happy hour. The Kings Charles Inn also has a good reputation and includes complimentary parking.

5. Be selective with restaurants.

We ate one nice dinner at Poogan's Porch, and ate one dinner takeout style on the terrace of our hotel. Read reviews on yelp and trip advisor before you go, and consider checking lunch prices/menus. Lowcountry Bistro is one of our favorite lunch stops (sit outside on the porch if you go!).

Lowcountry Bistro, Charleston SC

Lowcountry Bistro, Charleston SC

6. Go shopping!

Window shop along King Street, and visit some of the art galleries for inspiring artwork. Nearby Mount Pleasant is home to several thrift stores for my thrift-loving friends. And I was completely inspired by the vintage dressers and chairs at Page's Thieves Market (the prices were slightly above thrift stores, but much lower than an antique store).

Page's Thieves Market, Mt. Pleasant SC

Page's Thieves Market, Mt. Pleasant SC

Have you visited Charleston? What is your favorite thing to do and see?