Happy Thanksgiving!

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I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday. Remember to give thanks for all the wonderful people in your life, and enjoy the feasting!

Do You Want to Build a Doh-man?

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Do you want to build a doh-man? Come on let’s go out and play!

 How’s that for a cool combination of the weekend’s activities? Play-doh creations, Disney music, cartoons, balloons…but I’m getting ahead of myself. What is this all about? Well…it’s about a fun-filled weekend with my favorite 5 year old in the whole wide world. And it all started with a phone call saying, “Rosie wants to know if she can come spend the night with you.” Of course, considering all of my extended family live in the same house, her choices are rather limited when she wants to spend the night away from home. So, obviously my reaction was…”Yay! My Rosie wants to spend the night with me! I’m the cool aunt!”

So Friday came, and I watched the clock. As soon as I knew school should be just about out, the phone call was made. “Is she home yet? Can I come get her?” She was! And off we went to go get her. My sister works night shift, and it was her weekend to work, so of course I asked to keep Rosie for the entire weekend. So an extra outfit was stuffed in the bag…along with the armloads of toys…to start a fun-filled weekend.

 What was the first order of business? Well, creating a Disney radio Pandora station of course, because…well, I just don’t have kid music around the house anymore. My kids are nearly grown. One is (GASP!) an adult as of a couple of months ago, and one is a teenager. Therefore, a request of music from the Little Mermaid could only be filled by a search on Pandora for some Disney music. The first song did not meet our Little Mermaid request; however, much to our surprise and delight, song number two was the perfect fit!

 Our first night was planned by yours truly. It consisted of pizza from Little Caesar’s, cartoon movies, a fire in the fireplace, hot chocolate, and toasted marshmallows. Despite Mom’s concerns, the marshmallows were a hit! And of course Rosie added something to the mix. The activity for the evening for her was blowing up balloons…more like the activity of the evening for me. Of course, the hot chocolate reminded her of our last tea (coffee) party, so a “coffee” party was added to the breakfast agenda.

 Morning came all too soon, and after a breakfast of chocolate chip waffles, which apparently has come to be expected when there is a Rosie spend-the-night involved, we had our “coffee” party. Now, a coffee party must be done right. It must have all of the right ingredients: 1) antique china tea cups and saucers, 2) musical carousel horse figurines, 3) candles, and 4) lots of cream and sugar. Usually there are cookies involved too, but seeing as how it was still early in the morning, we decided to forgo the cookies (and when I say we, I mean me). We had a lovely coffee party, and we even had a server! Of course, our server also got to be the handy man when we broke the bottom shelf of the island work station (and again when I say we, I mean me…oops).

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(The server, aka my husband, took the pictures of me and Rosie having coffee.)

And after the coffee party…Play-doh! Now if there is any wonder as to whether this bright-eyed little girl has everyone wrapped around her finger, the following picture should put to rest those suspicions…

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Yes, indeed! Even the boys gladly played Play-doh with the girly-girl. We made all sorts of creations…mostly snowmen. And since Aunt Athenia is the photographer of the family, lots of pictures of our lovely creations were taken to share.

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(That’s my Doh-man.)

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(Rosie’s Doh-man…or woman)

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(And this is why boys are sometimes not invited to play.)

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(Uncle Jason’s creation.)

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(The cute couple.)

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(Picasa art)

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(This is a cake.)

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(Rosie’s cake.)

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(Rosie cutting her cake.)

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(Boys…insert eye roll here…)

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(Another Uncle Jason masterpiece.)

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And that’s not all! Cool cousin Kat with all of her creative geekiness led an experiment in making goo. Pink goo of course, because we are girls after all. The experiment was a success! Therefore, there was lots of goo for us to play with (and when I say us, I mean them…goo is icky, yuck!)

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And then there were the cartoons…lots and lots of cartoons. Millions of cartoons. I didn’t know there were so many. We watched a dozen different kinds of fairies (well…I got corrected on this, because apparently a pixie and a fairy are not the same thing. What do they teach kids in schools these days?). Then there was the Monster High Enchanted according to Rosie. This ended up being Ever After High…probably the same thing. And then we went to see Big Hero 6, and Rosie made the whole theatre laugh. The boy in the movie made a robot and claimed it as his greatest creation, and it popped out of the box, and Rosie said in her most quizzical voice, “A marshmallow man?!” Ahhh…if only these memories could be bottled up and replayed to remember always.

And so are the adventures of a weekend with my five year old niece, Princess Rosie! It was so nice having a little one around the house, and I think we’re all looking forward to the next adventure. (Yay! I’m the cool aunt!…hehehe.)

My Assistant…Enderchick77

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Many moons ago…one to be exact, because the date on the photo album is October 12…my lovely assistant and I headed out to Indian Springs State Park to get the backup camera ready for the wedding the following weekend. I had a second camera body that had not been set up yet, and my assistant needed to get comfortable using this camera and taking video with it.

Well, as you probably know from my last blog, my assistant is my beautiful daughter. So here she is…

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Yep…that’s her. The blurry vision behind the tree looking at me with a “Seriously…you’re gonna take a picture of me now?!” kind of look. That’s Kat…my lovely teenage assistant. She’s learning a bit about photography, and she has a pretty good eye for it. She also loves vlogging and script writing. Her YouTube name is Enderchick77, so be on the lookout for some videos. And if you happen to be in a store somewhere and see “Enderchick77 was here”, know that she was there. As personalities go, we are probably polar opposites. She is outgoing, full of energy, and quite the social butterfly. She’s more like her father in that she takes life as it comes. My son and I are the planners of the family.

(By the way…my son is jwcato24gaming on YouTube. He does MineCraft videos with his friends…The Server Guys. He and his friend, Tyler…aka TheFullRunThrough…started The Server Guys many, many moons ago…as in more than one.)

Since I’m giving plugs, here are some links:

https://www.youtube.com/user/captkatcato/videos

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpXZFoqZ54VmOquvhNnYv9A

(this is jwcato24gaming, co-founder of The Server Guys…there is a list in the sidebar of all of the other Server Guys. Check out their channels too.)

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheFullRunThrough/videos (founder of The Server Guys)

https://www.youtube.com/user/Kilaung/videos (Kilaung…another Server Guy)

https://www.youtube.com/user/Cacille (Cacille…another Server Guy who uses MineCraft and YouTube to teach the English language.)

And here’s my favorite video by The Full Run Through and JWCato24 Gaming:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWAR9XGnAjM

And so…back to the focus of this blog…my assistant and our day at Indian Springs State Park.

When we arrived at Indian Springs State Park, there was a wedding going on in the pavilion. This meant we had to work our way around without disturbing the ceremony. We took the long way around, going from the parking lot, back up around the park store, and over to the bridge to get to the stream.

We set up at the top of the hill and took some video and pictures, and then we headed down to the water. Being the brave photographers that we are, we worked our way out into the middle of the stream and got some great photos.

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And I got several candid shots of Kat.

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We had a lovely afternoon, got the camera set up, and….only fell in the water once. But the camera didn’t get wet! Kat on the other hand…well…

So, that’s the story of my lovely assistant, Kat (Enderchick77), and our day at Indian Springs State Park.

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Cruisin’ the Southeast: A Fall Break Adventure

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From home, to mountains, to coast, to home…that’s how our Fall Break goes. One of the great things about living in a coastal state in the southeast is that you are within driving distance of the beach and the mountains. And on a really ambitious adventure, you can do them both in the same trip. That’s what my daughter and I did this Fall Break.

We started our journey by heading up to Mount Airy, North Carolina for a wedding photo shoot. Now for those of you who don’t know (as I didn’t before this trip), Mount Airy was the birthplace of the beloved tv personality, Andy Griffith, and the basis for Mayberry, the town in that wonderful classic, The Andy Griffith Show. So, now my daughter and I can say that we spent a couple of nights in Mayberry. We didn’t get any pictures in the town itself or get a chance to really explore, so we have plans to return there one day. However, it was a very cute and quiet little town nestled in the mountains.

The purpose of our visit, however, was a wedding photo shoot. That took us out to the beautiful Rosa Lee Manor near Pilot Mountain. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is a perfect place for a fall wedding. The property was beautiful, almost as beautiful as the couple getting married that day.

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We were doing the photo shoot for a friend of mine. Her daughter was “getting married” that day. I use quotes because they actually got married a year ago, but the big ceremony took place on this particular weekend a year later to celebrate their union with family and friends. The ceremony was lovely, and the family and all the beautiful young people were ready for a day filled with love and fun.

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The ceremony took place out at the gazebo with a beautiful view of the mountains behind. Complete with the yellowing leaves of fall, it was a scene that couldn’t be matched…quite the fairy tale wedding.

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And after the ceremony, the fun and festivities lasted well into the night. Feasting, dancing, and beautiful speeches by all filled the evening air.

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It was certainly a day to be remembered by all. I know that my daughter and I came away with beautiful memories…and a few great photos too (at least I hope the family thinks so).

But this was not the end for the mother/daughter team this Fall Break week. After the mountain wedding adventure, we took off for the beautiful coastal city of Charleston, South Carolina.

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Ahhh….Charleston. I must say, that of all the places in the southeast I have seen, this is by far one of my favorites. The culture is rich, the stories are hauntingly beautiful, and the city is magnificent. Just driving into the city makes me anxious to get my car parked away out of site and hit the streets walking and taking in the sights and sounds of this great city.

Getting the car parked, however, proved to be a challenge. The drop off at our condo was quite busy that Sunday afternoon. After circling the block about three times, we finally found a somewhat open spot to put the car for a moment to check in and get the keys to the valet. The last vestiges of this stressful experience soon melted away, however, as we carted our luggage through the courtyard to our beautiful unit.

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The fountain in the courtyard wasn’t operating on this particular week in October, but the lack of functionality allowed me to get a shot that I otherwise would not have gotten of the colors in the the center of the fountain bowl.

The courtyard scene that greeted us on arrival was one of iron tables, lounging guests sipping wine and laughing, and bicycles ready to be ridden down the streets of the city. After settling in to our unit, we freshened up and started walking in search of dinner. Of course debate soon ensued about the dining affair of the evening as I was not in the mood to have pizza for every meal, so I navigated us to the nearest Irish Pub and won the dinner debate…that time anyways. Tommy Condon’s was our dinner and entertainment provider that evening. We had a lovely meal and listened to a wonderful lady sing her Celtic tunes.

After dinner, we found some fudge to munch on and settled in for the evening to rest up for the next day’s adventure. I’m not sure when we headed out the next day, for sleeping in was the ultimate plan of the morning, but when we did, we hit the market first. The market was a wonderful place full of vendors of all sorts of things from mass market items to handmade crafts. The place was bustling and full of visitors. If ever you make it there, be sure to head by the wonderful smelling booth of The Old Whaling Company. I found some lavender and magnolia scrubs that smell divine and make my skin soft and fragrant. My daughter, of course, wanted just about everything she saw at the market.

After perusing the market, we headed to lunch…pizza of course (I didn’t win this time). The New York pizza place was just across the street from our condo, and the food was delicious. As we sat at the outside tables and waited on our lunch, we took a few photos along the street.

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After lunch, we wandered the streets and looked at the architecture and explored a graveyard or two.

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This graveyard was quite interesting. It was on a very small plot of ground, and all of the graves were very close together. (On the ghost tour that night, my daughter and I learned the difference between a graveyard and a cemetery, by the way. Little tidbit, a graveyard is a plot for graves attached to a church. A cemetery is usually larger and is not attached to a church.)

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One thing I found fascinating about this graveyard was that there were headstones everywhere. They were used as tiling in the walkways, and there were many attached to the base of the church. Several were attached to the wall surrounding the churchyard as well. I began to wonder if each marked an actual grave where a body was buried or if they were merely memorials of the long-ago deceased.

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There were some rather interesting scenes that I captured as well. This one interested me because of the three headstones framed by a low hanging tree branch.

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Later in the evening, we headed out for some night photography to fill our time before our scheduled ghost tour.

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We ended our evening with a ghost tour. The lovely husband-wife team, Maggy and Steve, at The Ghost Shop filled our evening full of haunting tales and unique history. We explored parks and alleys and discovered many more places to visit…on the next trip.

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