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We are Ready for Halloween Part II – The Mime

My favorite mimeFish is getting to the age where the interest in Halloween wanes.  Ohhh the desire for candy is there, but the motivation to create an original costume and travel from house to house is diminishing.  I have mixed feelings about the passage of time, but respect it for just that, a passage of time.

This year it was more of a struggle for her to come up with a costume idea than in years previous. She’s had exactly two pre-made costumes, she was a cow when she was 18 months old and when she was six her Grammy bought her a genuine Tinkerbell costume. Thankfully, she believes that half the fun of Halloween is the invention and creation of the costume.

I took a quick spin through the costume aisle at Target looking for ideas and I was horrified at what was being sold under the auspices of “tween” costumes.  Google it and see what you come up with.  It’s all racey, lace and short skirts.  No. A can-dancer?  Just NO!

Eventually she decided she wanted to be a mime (thank you French class).

Costume Parts:

A striped shirt – I had a purple and black striped turtle neck that wasn’t too big on her.

Black pants – Wardrobe staple of a 12 year old.

Red suspenders – Red Duck tape $4.50

White Gloves – $4

Beret – $8

White make-up – $4

Black eyeliner – $1.99

Red lip stick – I had some on hand.

Total cost $22

The most amazing thing was that she was actually silent for 2 plus hours 🙂


To See and Do in Charleston, South Carolina

A Menu Board at the Market, Karon and Tack during Segway Training. Wall Art that says "Life is Better Blonde, an overview of the Marketplace, The CopperRiver Bridge as viewed from Waterfront Park, Charlene's The perfect crab cake.I do not intend for this to become a travel blog. but I know I’m always interested in personal recommendations, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on some of the things we did in Charleston.

Wyndham Vacation Rentals – The goal of this trip was to relax, reconnect with friends and see some sights. We knew that more than anything, we just wanted to hang out, kick back and relax. So we needed someplace with a living room. We were only staying a few days, so maid service wasn’t crucial. We ended up at a Wyndham time share on the Isle of Palms (a beach community just outside of Charleston).  The downside was we had to drive to everything, but the upside was a comfortable place to hang out (decor not withstanding).  If you find yourself with similar lodging needs, I’d recommend this and would consider staying at a time-share resort again.

The Old Slave Market – An open air marketplace where vendors sell their wares is not an uncommon tourist attraction, but what set this one apart was the quality of the items for sale.  In my experience, these types of markets tend to have either kitschy touristy junk or fine art that is out of my budget. At The Marketplace in Charleston, you could find magnets and shot glasses, but those stalls were far outnumbered by local vendors selling beautifully hand crafted wares many of which were very affordable.  I started my Christmas shopping for those people on my list who are hard to buy for.  I even picked up a hand thrown pottery bowl for myself and a hand painted sign that is oh so apropos to our family.

For lunch that day we ate at The Charleston Crab House  The roof deck was airy, the iced tea (ordered half and half) was cold and frequently refilled and the crab cake was full of lump crab with just the right seasoning. My mouth is watering as I type.  There are several locations around Charleston, go fourth and enjoy!

Segway of Charleston  – Segways are really fun to ride and require minimal body exertion to participate (you must be able to stand for an extended time). Two of us had ridden Segways, two of us had not but they picked it up really quickly during our training session.  Unfortunately the City of Charleston had outlawed the use of Segways in the city limits. so we were relegated to Mt. Pleasant the next city over. Tack (the owner)  was a fun and personable tour guide and showed us the sights of Mt. pleasant including gorgeous architecture, a few historic sites and the location for the shooting of the movie adaptation of the Nicholas Spark’s novel The Notebook. While fun, this is not a tour of the sights of Charleston proper.  That said, Segways are a blast to ride and we had a great time.  We definitely felt it was worth the money and it was fun to do something different that your average canned tour.

Saturday for lunch, we enjoyed the Charleston Farmer’s Market in Marion Square in downtown Charleston. The Market borders the park on two sides.  You can find anything from fresh fruits and vegetables to hand made tables and hand bags. There were a number of vendors preparing food for immediate consumption and the offerings varied from vietnamese to crepes, greek and even gourmet grilled cheeses. I had greek from My Big Fat Greek Food Tent and it was great. For dessert, I had a peach popsicle. From The King of Pops, that was just amazing! It wasn’t too sweet and had pieces of peach mixed in.

The Wreck – While on the Segway tour, Tack took us by The Wreck of the Richard and Charlene known to the locals as just The Wreck. It’s basically an oversized screened in porch that overlooks Shem Creek and includes a dock for guests who wish to arrive by boat. The building is scrunched between a boat storage facility and a shrimp processing company (can you say FRESH seafood?). The name memorializes a boat (the Richard and Charlene) that came to rest on the same spot during hurricane Hugo. The food was fantastic.  The service was meh, but to be fair, we arrived half hour before closing on what had clearly been a busy Saturday night. You had the feeling that you’d stumbled on to a secret held dear by the locals. I had a she crab soup that was to die for.  I also had my first taste of fried green tomatoes and they were just delicious. The beer was cold and given the chance, I would definitely return.

Sunday afternoon after The Waffle house for breakfast and a quick stop at Trader Joe’s. We made a trip out to Memorial Waterfront Park. There is great play ground for kinds and a long pier for fishing. It also features oversized front porch swings for well, swinging!

Afterwards, we had some time to kill before heading home, so we headed to Kudu. I knew we’d hit the jackpot when the sign out front announced fresh coffee and local craft beers. We picked up our beverages found a table in the adjoining courtyard where we could enjoy them.  The fresh brewed iced Tea was perfect. The only downside was the cigarette smoke.  It’s a jarring encounter when you rarely encounter it in your daily life. But, this is the South, so I guess it is to be expected.

I enjoyed our trip to New Orleans last year, but felt like I just didn’t connect with the city.  Charleston was all together different. It brings together Southern Charm and hosptialty, with a funky side and some high tech thrown in for good measure. We really only scratched the surface of New Orleans, but I feel like I’ve seen enough.  Charleston on the other hand feels like there is so much left to see.

Have you ever been to Charleston? What did we miss?

Charleston, September 2012


The fountain at Waterfront park. Not Battery Park, Waterfront park. “Mom what was your favorite thing about Charleston?” Mim asked. “The laughter.”

Four women, three nights, four days in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounds. At one time, our only connection to one another was work related, but over time we grew to be friends which is good because eventually our work paths diverged. With one exception, we stay in touch via Facebook and Twitter. We know enough about each other to be concerned if one of us drops out of sight for too long (yes Scottie I’ve checked up on you), but there are great stories to share when we see each other.

The weather was warm, but not too hot. The food was fabulous and Karon took it upon herself to introduce the Yankees to some of the bounty the South had to offer. Bless her heart 😉. We experienced, she crab soup, real crab cakes, fried shrimp (that tasted like shrimp, not breading), fried green tomatoes, grits, muscadines, and boiled peanuts.

On the left a crab cake from Charleston Crab House on the right, the Waffle House Menu

I learned some of the local dialect too.

  • “Iced tea, half and half”, results in a beverage that tastes good, but won’t put you in a diabetic coma after the first sip.
  • “Nakin, nakin, nakin” means “Do you want a napkin for the blob of muscadine that is on your chin?”
  • “Boyld peanut?” roughly translates to soggy, cold bead that has the texture of an undercooked potato.

Sunrise on the beach, A sign from The Marketplace in downtown, a Sculpture from Mt. Pleasant, and a flower.

We went on a Segway tour, saw Patriot Point, visited The Marketplace in downtown Charleston and experienced a fantastic farmers’ market. We shopped at a Piggly Wiggly (a.k.a. The Pig), ate breakfast at the Waffle House and enjoyed afternoon refreshment at Kudu, a local coffee house that also served craft beers and had a lovely courtyard. We rode the trolleys, got completely confused about who was meeting who, and where, ate lots of food that went straight to our hips and even laid a myth or two to rest. But, most of all, we laughed and that was indeed, the best part of the time I spent in Charleston, South Carolina.

A pathway away from the beach, The four of us on Segways, Charleston Homes, Jill & Karon mugging for me, The Four of us post segway a pretty winding stair case


Sending Summer Off with a Giggle or 8

This past weekend, we sent summer on it’s way. “MOM! Summer’s not over until September 21st.” Mim emphatically reminded me. Summer may not be over in the meteorological sense, but after Labor day our lives are once again filled with homework, karate and Scouts. So, we try to live it up in a summery (read relaxing) way for Labor Day weekend.

We managed to pull off an impromptu get together with friends. There are four of them and four of us and there is always laughter when we are together, so by riffing on parts of both last names, I have dubbed us 8 Giggles. With four careers, four kids and the associated scheduling, our face to face get togethers are few and far between and always planned well in advance. This time, the odds were ever in our favor as we pulled off a get together at the lake with just 4 days notice! By 6pm on Friday my house was filled the laughter of friends who had some catching up to do. We ate and then divided by gender for the ride North. As we rode, there were stories and giggles from the back seat and my friend commented on how cousin like the three girls are. It’s true and ’tis a good thing indeed.

Saturday was my idea of a perfect day. We all slept in, then noshed on rarely consumed Pop-Tarts and assorted forms of caffeine. We packed up lunch and took to the water, anchoring the boat on the sand bar with about 100 of our “close” friends. We turned up the tunes and broke out the frisbee.

Kids playing on the lake.All images Copyright, 2012 Julia Lafererra

Eventually we made our we back to the camp for a delicious dinner of steak tips, large print chicken tips (a.k.a marinated chicken breasts), salad and fresh corn on the cob. There were s’mores for dessert and a relaxing end to the evening with glow sticks and roaring fire. It was just one of those days that rejuvenates you body and soul.

Me Relaxing on the boat, swinging along to the music, A-Man behind the wheel

All images Copyright, 2012 Julia Laferrera

I’m so grateful we have a place to get away to and wonderful family and friends to enjoy it with.


Fish, her second halloween (as a bunny) with Blankie

“You were Real to the Boy,” the Fairy said, “because he loved you. Now, you shall be Real to every one.”

– Nursery Magic Fairy, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

When my daughter was an infant, my mother-in-law gave her Bear and my dear friend Jeanne gave her a purple Comfort Silkie Blankie. Fish took to them almost instantly and the two traveled everywhere with us. B&B were a team. I wasn’t able to locate another bear, but we bought several more Blankies and rotated them regularly so they wore relatively evenly. This way if one were lost, (GOD FORBID), Blankie would not be gone for good (and Mom & Dad could still sleep at night). For most of the first two years of her life, Fish thought there was only one Blankie. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she discovered the Blankie stash. It was like Christmas. She grabbed them all and snuggled them close.

After a while, Fish settled on one specific Blankie for comfort. Thankfully by then she was able to keep track of Blankie herself and the world did not come to a screeching halt if Blankie could not be immediately located. Blankie’s importance has definitely diminished over the years, but she remains part of Fish’s inner circle of confidants. We kept the others (down to two from a high of four) in a drawer “just in case”.

Lately, poor Blankie has been showing her age. Her flannel side is thread bear and has disintegrated in to long shreds. Her tag (probably her most important part) is literally hanging on by a thread*. She’s had to stay home a few times for fear of not surviving camping or air travel. Still she perseveres and provides much needed comfort. She’s a trooper!

Three pictures horizontally, Fish with "rag" and a less worn Blankie, The Real Blankie and Bear, and the tag litterally hanging on by a thread.

Bear too is showing her age, she’s lumpy and has required several nose jobs over the years (props to Grammy and her mad sewing skills), but she has been Blankie’s faithful nurse and companion and she too is a member of the inner circle. I’m grateful to them both for their service. Not many would tolerate being smooshed under a feverish child, being drenched in vomit or stuffed into a small backpack to travel on adventures. Still, they provide comfort and keep secrets and are to be lauded for their efforts.

Someday, they too will be Real.

*Right after I wrote this, the thread broke and Blankie and her tag were separated forever.

“I now sleep with one of the replacements.  I’ll never give up the old one until she’s a few threads held together by nothing but love.” – Fish

The End is Near

'Lomo Spring Creek School House' photo (c) 2008, Kevin Dooley - license: It’s that time of year, the end.

No, not The End, like the end of this post. The end as in the end of school, the end of Boy Scouts, and the end of Girl Scouts. At times, it feels like the friggin’ END OF THE WORLD!!

I’ve been doing this school thing for more than 10 years now, 6 years with two kids. You would think that by now, I would remember that the last two weeks of school are just INSANE. It doesn’t matter if it is pre-school or junior high, life is just nuts. I can’t put it on a calendar six months in advance because six months ago, we were still contemplating snow days and the end of the year was a moving target. So, it sneaks up on me EVERY FLIPPIN’ YEAR.

There are assessments and meetings, final projects, year end celebrations, and field trips. Don’t forget class parties, Scout events and teacher gifts. At a micro level, I appreciate these things as they mark the passing of time. At a macro level? I just want to scream ENOUGH at the top of my longs.

For our family it is further complicated by a cluster of birthdays. Do you now how hard it is to schedule a little boy’s birthday party in early June? I’m not the only one who’s calendar is suffering from overload. Eventually you hammer a stake in the ground and say “Those who can come, will and those who can’t won’t” but it is hard as you hope and pray that SOMEONE will come.

As fast as it winds up, it screeches to a halt. Tomorrow is the last day of school for my kids. I estimate the first “I’m bored” will arrive at 10:26am Friday morning as I scramble to meet a deadline for our local paper.

We have a few scheduled weeks and a lot of down time this summer. Karate is the only constant through the summer. Come the fall, all the other activities will kick in again. I’ll bet you come next June I’ll be just as crazed as I am now. In the immortal words of Harry Chapin “All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sunset.”

The Honey Health Bread Crusade – An Update

For the first part of the story please see this post.

Well! That was fast. In my last post I mentioned I sent a letter to the former owner of Hanley’s asking for guidance. His wife called me they day they received the letter. Cheyenne and I had a lovely conversation about small business, brambles, buffalo, indian powwows and of course Honey Health Bread. Her husband has had some medical issues since his retirement, but I could hear him in the background chiming in occasionally with bits of information.

Bob's Red Mill Graham Flour and Eden Barley Malt SyrupHe couldn’t remember the recipe exactly and she couldn’t put her hands on it, but they both knew there was no rye flour. He said there was no molasses, but she thought there might have been some. He remembered a syrup, but couldn’t remember what kind. There was whole wheat flour, but it was graham flour, a courser grind of whole wheat flour (and also the kind of flour used to make Graham Crackers). The both reminded me that it was a very wet dough, which makes sense given the moist open crumb.

Cheyenne said she’d look for the recipe for me, but she’s busy and I’m impatient. I’ve acquired some Graham Flour and some Barley malt syrup and am going to set about creating a recipe for Honey Health Bread. Wish me luck!


It’s school vacation week here. In a perfect world I would be ahead on my blog posts, but in case you haven’t noticed by now, I don’t live in a perfect world :).  In the mean time enjoy the cute chickies. I’ll be back with more soon.

Fish holding a chicken that is about 3 weeks old.