31 Days of Movies for October

Hello October!

Are you as excited for this new month as I am?

There is something special about the “Ber” months, especially October, November and December. It’s almost magical. My vibe, mood and attitude all improve which prompts me into celebrating all the little things this season has to offer …. even with an empty nest!

This attitude goes back a long way; 48 years to be exact.

When your Momma is a Halloween baby magical fun is always around the corner.

One of my favorite October traditions is 31 days of movies that are perfect for keeping your spirits up and setting the mood throughout the month. This isn’t Freeform’s let’s show the same movies over and over list, this is a movie a day that you can enjoy with your love, kids, neighbor’s kids, or while enjoying “me time” wrapped up in a patchwork quilt with a gourmet coffee you whipped up.

From traditional classics to a few shivers here and there, this 31 days of spirited thrills will have you excited for Halloween Night!

1. It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

2. Hocus Pocus

3. The Goonies

4. The Haunted Mansion

5. Private Eyes (a classic with Don Knotts!)

6. Edward Sissorhands

7. Beetlejuice

8. The original Ghostbusters

9. Practical Magic

10. Sleepy Hollow

11. Disney’s Halloweentown

12. Casper

13. Nightmare Before Christmas

14. Disney’s Ichabod Crane & Mr. Toad

15. ET

16. Addam’s Family

17. Hotel Transylvania

18. The Ghost & Mr Chicken (another classic)

19. Bewitched (with Nicole Kidman … cheesy but cute!)

20. Mr. Mom (1983 … just go with it)

21. Harry Potter (marathoning is highly recommended)

22. Monster House

23. The Original Friday the 13th

24. Wizard of Oz

25. Pirates of the Caribbean (believe me, it fits)

26. Twilight (Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?)

27. Sweeney Todd

28. The Corpse Bride

29. Scooby Doo (the movie)

30. The Mummy

31. Interview with a Vampire

I could go on, but if these don’t add magic and a little shiver to your October, it’s probably not your season! Obviously not all of these movies claim Halloween. The idea is to set a mood and this list will do the trick!

Many of the listed movies have sequels, so marathoning on the weekend is perfectly acceptable!

What’s your favorite October movie? I would love to hear from you!

A Fall Bucket List

At last! Autumn has arrived, not only is it calendar official, but you can feel it in the air in the south! This is my favorite season and I’ve been rather impatient waiting on it to arrive this year.

Thanks to the coronapocalypse, fall is a little different this year. Audley and I are skipping football games and missing tailgating, there aren’t any county fairs or rodeos, among other things, but there is no reason to not enjoy it! We have a “bucket list” of things we are looking forward to do this season. It got me thinking Maybe I should share it in case you were at a loss of how to enjoy the season in this crazy time. Almost all of these keep social distancing guidelines in mind.

* Go for a sunrise canoe ride

* Light autumn scented candles all through the house

* Pick apples and make apple crisp

* Make all the soups

* Bake a pumpkin pie using fresh pumpkin

* Visit a pumpkin patch

* Take a drive & enjoy a little leaf peeping

* Light a fire and make s’mores

* Celebrate National Coffee day ( September 29)

* Go camping or glamping

*Watch fall & Halloween themed movies

* Carve a pumpkin

* Pull out the patchwork quilts & get cozy

* Enjoy a girl’s day or even road trip

* Take a leisurely bike ride on a scenic trail

* Drink apple cider

* Meet your spouse for a coffee date

* Decorate your porch just a little extra this year

* Star gaze

* Make & eat caramel apples

* Go hiking

* Visit Starbucks for at least one Pumpkin Spiced drink

* Plan an autumn picnic

* Run through the leaves

Being outdoors is very good for boosting your immunity system, so many of our plans involve fresh air and sunshine, even with a few cooler temperatures. Take advantage of this anytime you can in the coming months! It’ll keep your spirits up as well.

What’s on your bucket list this fall? I would love to hear what you’ve been up to!

Eight Things San Diego

The boys & I just returned from a fun-filled fall break trip to San Diego, visiting the beautiful city Audley was once stationed in while in the Navy, and visiting with some of his extended family.  The weather was amazingly gorgeous plus we had a fantastic tour guide with Audley’s cousin sharing fabulous highlights over 3 1/2 days!

I totally fell in love with southern California and wanted to share a few of our highlights for a little travel inspiration for your next trip!

I absolutely love history (it was the other half of my double major in college), so when we travel a lot of sights we visit are related to history.  This has always been a fun way to teach our kids to appreciate and learn about the country in which they live without spending as much time in books as I did!

  1. The Hotel Del Coronado.  This National Historical Landmark on Coronado Beach built in 1888 is one of the very few wooden Victorian hotels left in existence. IMG_E7082       This resort hotel has hosted celebrities, royalty, and presidents for nearly 130 years as well as been the location of many literary efforts and even movies sets!

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{Think Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, & Tony Curtis in “Some Like it Hot“!}

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While the hotel has been added on to and grown much over the years, the original Victorian structure still stands and is used for lodging.  We chose to stay in the original Victorian Building mainly because I am such a romantic and loved the historical element.

Our room was so lovely and very roomy.  They have been renovated in recent years, and the more modern decor mixed with the Victorian architecture was tastefully done.  The staff was so friendly and very helpful which always makes a difference in a lodging experience.

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If you love architecture, the Hotel Del has it!  I love the towers, curves, colors and stairways.  It is a step back in time; most definitely one of my favorite time periods of all.

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Oh, I can’t forget… the elevator!  The old fashioned cage-style elevator is still run by an elevator operator which of course totally amplifies the atmosphere!

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The Hotel Del Coronado is family friendly, BUT I’m not real sure that I would take small children (TOTALY MY OPINION) as there are so many couples there for romance, older couples for the resort vacation, and expensive restaurants where the atmosphere is not really for children.  While trying to enjoy an early quiet morning on the patio sipping coffee and savoring the atmosphere, I was really irritated by parents allowing their children to run wild; screaming, yelling and fighting (UGH) and another parent with a screaming toddler who did nothing but make the situation worse by telling her how bad she was.  I try to be understanding, but respect for those around you goes a long way.   Young children in an unfamiliar and more of a grown-up environment really can ruin for those who appreciate and desire it.

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The Hotel Del offers fabulous shopping options (the B&S Emporium could’ve easily emptied my checkbook AND DID cause my suitcase to need a “Heavy” tag on our return flight) from home decor to formal and resort wear!

The Del Coronado is owned by Hilton Properties now, so those who are brand specific when booking lodging will really enjoy the perks! They do not have a shuttle service, so if you have not rented a car, you’ll need to use Uber or a taxi service for transportation.  Many restaurants, galleries and shops off of the resort are in easy walking distance.  The town of Coronado is so cute and definitely pedestrian friendly.

2.  San Diego Zoo. Don’t let the ticket price throw you or even balk at the idea of a two day ticket ($52 for one day/adult & $83 for two day/adult); the legendary San Diego Zoo is so much fun and absolutely worth it!

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I wish we could’ve had two days to visit, but we managed to make the most of one and enjoyed every minute of it.

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After all, a zoo is not necessarily for the kids; big kids and children at heart love them as well.

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With temperatures in the upper 70’s it wasn’t so hot the animals were hiding out.  We were awed, entertained, and mesmerized by the variety of animals and the show many were happy to put on for us.

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We laughed quite a bit as well since I think some of the animals know you are watching and do things like pose for pictures.

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Do these ginormous reindeer make anyone else want to decorate for Christmas in October?

Some tips for visiting the zoo….

**Go early in the day & purchase advance tickets.  There are MANY school and day care groups that visit the zoo so getting in can be crowded and a little chaotic. Parking is free and appeared to be plentiful and despite the crowds of children the zoo was very clean!

**Wear comfortable walking shoes and prepare to get your steps in for the day… uphill, downhill and everything in between.  We managed over 15,000 steps each on our zoo visit!

**Food is available inside the park.  They have several options that fit the theme of whichever area you may be strolling through at the moment, but like most parks, it’s a little pricey.  We did a “snack” which included a kids meal for me.  I mostly wanted the cute little bag, but it was tasty as well!  If you don’t mind the extra bags, you can bring in your own food and drink.

**We didn’t do the bus tour, but having a guided tour around the entire zoo would definitely be an added bonus, if you have the time.  It does cost extra to do this, though.

**Right now (October 2017) the zoo is undergoing some construction work, creating new exhibits.  This also creates a little confusion when following the map and signs.  Be flexible and don’t be frustrated over it.  Progress can sometimes be a pain, but changing up the park makes for a new adventure each time you visit!

3.  Balboa Park.  If you still feel like walking, right next to the zoo is the beautiful Balboa Park.

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{The zoo is actually a part of the park, but you don’t have to do both at the same time.}

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Named for the Spanish explorer, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the park was originally built in 1915 for the California-Panama Exposition, which left behind beautiful architectural delights that were restored after vandalism, arson, and neglect several years back.  The park has had a storied history, but it is now well-maintained with a Prado for strolling, a theater, shops, restaurants, museums, fountains, a conservatory and grassy areas for picnicking and enjoying the day.

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The park is a National Historic Landmark (since 1977) and well worth spending time inside!

4.  Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma.  This gorgeous National Park overlooking the bay commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542.  This is significant as it was the first time a European explorer landed on the west coast.  There is a fee per car (unless you have a National Parks pass) , then stop in at the visitor’s center for a brief history of the area and monument to give you an idea of what you are seeing.

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Walking is easy around the monument and up to the Point Loma lighthouse (the highest point in San Diego) completed in 1854.  There are often reenactors and historians around the area to answer questions and do demonstrations.  Unfortunately we missed them the day we visited, but check their website or with the visitor center for times.

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The monument of Cabrillo was commissioned in 1939 (to accompany a stone marker placed years earlier) by the Portuguese government and donated to the US.  It is so imposing when you look at it up close.

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This beautiful park is not huge, but worth a stop.  The views overlooking the Naval Air Station and Coronado Beach are stunning and make for a pretty picture.

5.  Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery.  Registered a California Historical Landmark in 1932, The National Cemetery is on your way to Point Loma and covers over 77 acres.  Stop, Pay your respects, and honor the many brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.  If you have your family with you, take the time to explain how important the sacrifice of those who served and/or killed in war, those who served in peace and those who stand ready to defend our nation at any time.

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Read the tombstones and the monuments; there are many scattered throughout.

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Let the magnitude of sacrifice soak in.

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Then teach your kids to respect all those who serve our nation, for without them, we would have truly lost our freedoms generations ago.

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6.  Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.  Yes more history and another nationally registered Landmark, but its history mixed with shopping and food and from time to time costumed reeenactors sharing tales of early San Diego!

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This historic park represents the early days of San Diego and is home to many historic building from the years of 1820-1870.  Some buildings are original to the area, first a mission and military area, while other buildings were moved to the location and preserved.

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Cosmopolitian-Hotel

You can still dine and lodge at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, check out an old schoolhouse, courthouse, and a private home showcasing a little upperclass living in the old west, or shop for local goods from Temecula Olive Oil Company.

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Located in Old Town San Diego, and built in 1825 by lieutenant José Maria Estudillo, Casa de Estudillo unveils the lifestyle of a prominent San Diego family.  Standing as the most famous of the original adobe buildings in Old Town, it’s furnished with representative items from the 16th to 20th centuries and is was built with a Catholic Chapel included within its 13 rooms.

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It was a religious and social center during the early years of San Diego.

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I loved the horseshoe shape of the home with the beautiful courtyard at it’s center.

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Portions of the casa are under construction, but you are still welcome to tour other areas.  It is free to tour as you are strolling through Old Town.

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There are also several authentic Mexican restaurants for you to choose from for you cravings dining pleasure.

7.  La Jolla Cove.  Only pictures can describe this picturesque beach area.  Breathtaking and stunning are the only words I can come up with.

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It is well worth spending a day or two, just swimming with the sea lions!

8.  USS Midway and Seaport Village.  While we were unable to tour the Midway itself, I absolutely loved this area of Naval history.  Our visit to San Diego happened to coincide with the Navy’s Fleet Week so we spent a lot of the weekend doing things related to that with Bradley. With his plans of joining the Marine Corps after graduation he was totally taken in by all of the military activity going on.

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The military police demo with the dogs was wonderful & the marines spent a good bit of time talking with Bradley.

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Bradley was a last minute in a “Run Where the Marines Run” obstacle course & 3-mile run… He did so good!

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This boy of mine will make a wonderful & dedicated Marine.

Around the Midway are several monuments and memorials to sailors or ships from the WWII era and even a tribute to Bob Hope and his work with the USO!

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“Unconditional Surrender”

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US Aircraft Carrier Memorial

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Monument for the USS San Diego and her crew.

If you just want to relax and stroll by the harbor, this is a wonderful park to do that!  You can also catch a trolley (it does cost) and take a guided tour of San Diego near the harbor area.

Seaport Village with architecture from Mexican to Victorian is great for touristy shopping, sweet treats and just strolling through for fun.  There is a gorgeous and historical 121 year old carousel with hand-carved horses!

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The harbor is right near the airport, so it was the final destination of our trip before catching our afternoon flight back to Atlanta and I’m so glad we were able to enjoy it.

Have any of you ever visited San Diego?  What did you enjoy most?

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10 Things: New Orleans

“We wander through old streets, and pause before the age stricken houses; and, strange to say, the magic past lights them up.”

~ Grace King, French Quarter Guidebook ~

I absolutely love New Orleans; not the loud, drunken partying New Orleans, but the cultural, culinary, historical and gracious New Orleans.

My husband knows this, so when he had to schedule a business trip to this grand old Southern City last week, he made arrangements for me to accompany him.

{He’s thoughtful that way.}

While Bourbon Street is clearly the most happening place in New Orleans, I tend to prefer the more subdued side of town.  You may ask what else is there to experience in this town known for its lively side, so let me share some of my favorite things to enjoy while traveling New Orleans.  I’ve included a few tips and links to help you plan your own vacation.

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1. Step back in time and tour the plantations on Louisiana’s old River Road.  From the stunning Houmas House and Gardens to the lesser known St. Josephs plantation (owned by the same family since 1877), these are still estates with working gardens or sugar cane crops!

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The Houmas House, also known as the Burnside Plantation or “The Sugar Palace”… The original portion of the house was built in the 1700s with  additions made by later owners completed in the 1840s.  The original portion of the home was built in the Federal style of architecture that was so common in the late 1700s, but the newer portion is obviously Greek Revival style which was used in many old southern homes.

We toured Houmas House first thing in the morning before the tour buses arrived.  It was still cool and quiet which made for a lovely and relaxing morning.

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The Houmas House guided tour is quite informative and well worth taking.  You will hear stories of several generations who lived there as well as a few details on furniture (Audley loved the 150 year old humidor) and accessories throughout the house.

 

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St. Joseph’s Plantation in Vacherie was built in the 1820s.  I love the French Creole architecture of the area and time.  The house was originally opened on the bottom as many Creole homes were, but was enclosed prior to the Civil War so that the home is 12,000 square feet!  My guide, Rae was full of information and facts including that the home was built from cypress wood since it was inexpensive to use, then faux finished to look like oak which was much more expensive!  Very interesting when so many seem to think faux finishes are a newer design concept.

I visited St. Josephs later in the afternoon where I enjoyed a personal tour.  There were only a few other people around this time of day so I had plenty of opportunity to ask questions and really soak in the history.

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Sugar Cane (certified organic) is still grown and harvested here at St. Josephs.

If you love history and architecture, this is definitely a stop on your list of “to-do’s”.

2. Treat your sweet side with a trip to Sucre’ on Magazine Street for authentic French macarons, chocolates, and pastry.  Make sure you have left room in your carry-on for carrying a few delights home with you!

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Window shopping is quite sweet while strolling the streets of NOLA

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3. Enjoy the beautiful, historic Jackson Square in the French Quarter and take a tour of the stunning St. Louis Cathedral with her Renaissance & Spanish (which surprises me since Louisiana was such a large French colony) architecture, first completed in 1793 and added onto in 1850!

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The Andrew Jackson statue … Hence the naming of Jackson Square.

4. Enjoy a carriage ride through the French Quarter with a knowledgable and entertaining guide.  If you are limited on time, this is one of the best ways to take in a little of local New Orleans history and flavor.

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We took our tour at twilight and left from in front of the cathedral, where tours leave from all day.  We participated in a group tour so our ride was $20/each, Carriages for two run about $45/each.

5. Indulge your taste buds with delicious New Orleans flavor by dining at one of the many local restaurants found in the downtown area.  We thoroughly enjoyed dining at the Red Fish Grill located on Bourbon Street (near Canal).

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Start your meal with fresh, Gulf oysters shucked right in front of you, then venture into the dining room for a delicious meal showcasing traditional, local flavor.

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I highly recommend the shrimp and grits topped with friend pickled okra and pancetta, although Audley was totally suggest the wood plank grilled red fish with lump crab meat.

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No matter which you prefer, make reservations before heading out for the evening.  This is true for almost every restaurant in the area!

6. And while you are making reservations be sure make time for a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking.  

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Our demo and tasting class included Gumbo, jambalaya, and Pralines and was only $28 each.  We were so full when we left, so it is well worth participating in.

Here you can choose a demo and tasting class, or a full hands-on instructional class.  Either way, you are going to learn a lot about traditional French cooking from Colonial, Louisiana and how it evolved with Italian, African, and Haitian influences into the amazing flavors we enjoy today!

7. While I’m definitely not a fan of Bourbon Street, I LOVE strolling down it long enough to reach Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub.  A stop in Fritzels is like stepping back in time to mid-century France or Germany with their jazz clubs, long wooden tables and benches included.  It doesn’t take long for you to find yourself lost in the music, leaving the present day behind.

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There is not a cover charge for Fritzels, but there is a minimum one drink per set purchase required; bottled water counts as a drink!

8.  Tour an old historic cemetery as there are plenty to choose from.  The old St Louis Cemetery #1 is the most popular and requires a $20 admission and comes with a guide.  Audley and I enjoy exploring on our own and there are several which allow you to do just that.  One of our favorites in the Hook and Ladder cemetery (established in 1858) in Gretna.  It’s not too big, still lovely in a unique way, and definitely worth checking out.  If you want to make your tour a little more interesting, read up on how these family mausoleums work… extremely interesting!

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The Hook and Ladder is located next to fabulous restaurant, The Red Maple,  which I also highly recommend you visit for supper one night!

9. Take some time out to shop the market in the French Quarter. From local boutiques artisans to stereotypical gift shops, there is something to be found for everyone on your shopping list.

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10. Did you really visit New Orleans if you skip over Cafe du Monde?  Located next to Jackson Square in the Quarter, stopping in for beignets and a cafe au lait in this famous open-air cafe is a must-do on your trip.  Choosing from a very limited menu of hot chocolates, coffee, cafe au lait and beignets takes little time.  There is really no excuse to miss this cafe as they are open 24-hours!

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Have you visited New Orleans before?  What are your favorite things to do in this grand old city?

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