Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Our Trip to the North Georgia Mountains and Sick Little Owlets

Last week my mom rented a cabin in Ellijay, Georgia for the week. I have been studying math everyday, preparing to go back to school in August, so I decided take the owlets up for one night to spend quality time with the family.  We had a great time but the souvenir we brought back wasn't what I had in mind. One of nephews got sick while he was there so my sister left with him before we got there. What they thought was a case of poison ivy turned out to be hand, foot mouth disease. Nasty stuff! We were there only Monday and Tuesday and by Thursday Keaton started running a high fever to only be followed by Britton running a high fever on Friday. Keaton never got the sores but poor little Britt Britt has the stuff all over his chin. Sorry, he was eating an apple when I took these.

But despite coming home with sick babies we still had a great time and enjoyed spending two days with Granny (my mom), my sister Jessica, her husband Milton, my nephews Christian, Carlos (Jessica's two youngest sons) and my niece Chloe (my sister Hannah's daughter). I was sad that I didn't get to see my sister Hannah and my nephew Jack.  They had already left to come home before we got there. I also missed seeing my nephew Clay (Jessica's oldest son) who decided not to come.

The cabin my mom rented was nice and secluded. So secluded that my GPS didn't work and once you got to the cabin cell phones didn't pick up either. Luckily my sister had went to town and I could reach her on her cell when I arrived in Ellijay. I met her so I could follow her to the cabin. Thank goodness because I would have never found it.

This is a picture I took of me following her van down this narrow dirt road.

Mr. Owl and I always go on hikes with the boys and we have taught them to look for the colored trail markers so we know we are on the right trail. They call them "skid marks". Where they got this from I have no idea! 

As we were following Jessica down the road Keaton says, "Britt Britt, look for skid marks!" The two cups of coffee I drank on the way up there was pushing on my bladder at this point and laughing at this silly little booger almost pushed my bladder to an empty state.

Here are some pictures of the cabin mom rented. It was right on a creek!

This are pictures of the road  trail it was on.

As you can see not a place most people would dare to take a Honda Civic, but we made it!

The pretty creek that was the view from the front porch.

There was also a fire pit and sitting area on the bank of the creek. I didn't take pictures of the firepit because my sister and her boyfriend had left all their beer trash in the fire-pit and forgotten to clean it up before they left.

After we arrived we ate a wonderful breakfast my sister had fixed just before we arrived. Yummy buttered biscuits, bacon, eggs, fresh fruit and orange juice. The only thing that was missing to make this the perfect southern breakfast was the grits!

After we ate breakfast we decided to go over to a local vineyard call Cartecay Vinyards. We were they only people there and it was nice. You got to sample 6 wines for $8 and you got to keep the souviner glass you used for the tastings. I ended up buying 2 bottles of wine, a peach wine and a muscadine wine that were to die for. My mom ended up buying 6 bottles of various types. She likes the drier wines where as I prefer dessert wines. Honestly, I am more of a beer kinda gal.

They have an outdoor fireplace and tables and chairs that I would bet is absolutely breathtaking in the fall.

The kids got to explore the grape vines....but only for a minute because there came a downpour!

The owlets loved playing in the rain....

After the vineyard we decided to ride down the road a little way and go to a working dairy farm. I think this was the owlets favorite part of the trip.

They got to see and pet "piggy's". Well at least Britton did. As soon as the pig came anywhere close to Keaton he would say "No, Piggy! Go away!" 

Britton, however, is an animal lover like his mommy.

Although Keaton didn't like the pigs he did try to catch the bunnies that were roaming around freely. 

The dairy cows were being brought in to be milked so we decided to walk done a small hill to take a look at them. Or in my case slide down on your behind in white shorts! I had my sister take a picture of my dirty behind as my mom was laughing so hard she could barely stand up. 

By the way I washed them 5 times with all kinds of stain removers...the last time with Oxyclean and the stain finally came out.

Finally, we make it safely to see the cows. You can tell by the expressions on the owlets' faces that they have never been on a farm. Can these really be MY children? Nope, they are their father's! That is what happens when a country mouse marries a city mouse......you have two city mice! I at least thought one would be a country mouse. Guess I need to get a country dog!

Forget this mom! Let's go pet the goats....

My mom holding a kid that kept getting out of his cage to come see the human kids.

I caught Keaton checking out the chickens when he thought no one was looking.

I know it looks like Britton is feeding the goat but really what he is doing is waving for it to come to him and saying "Come'r, Goat!" His "come here" hand gesture is upside down compared to everyone else. He always looks like he is sweeping the air with his fingers.

Keaton didn't sleep well being away from home. He stayed up until almost midnight and woke up at 7 am on the dot. Chloe got frustrated with him because she couldn't sleep because of him. Well this should have been a sign of how the next day would go. So sad, because we had such a blast on our first day.

The second day wasn't as much fun and we actually thought it would be the most fun. We decide to take a Scenic Railway Train. The boys absolutely love trains so I thought this would be a huge hit.  The train leaves from Blueridge, GA and travels along the Toccoa River to a town that is split down the middle by the GA/TN line. It is actually one town that has two names. On the Georgia side it's McCaysville and on the Tennessee side it's Copperhill. The train ride costs $36 for an adult ticket and $20 for child ticket (2 and under are free but must ride in your lap). You spend 2 hours in McCaysville/Coopertown before heading back.

The owlets loved the train and loved it when it started off. When the train blew its whistle they both yelled "Choo! Choo! All Aboard!" Sadly the excitement of being on the train ended there. 

We ate at a restaurant where restrooms were on the GA side but the rest of the place was in TN. The food however was pitiful and extremely expensive. 

The cousins all posing near a huge moose. Not sure why a moose was in Blueridge, GA....a bear would have been more appropriate. 

Getting a picture of two toddlers is hard enough but throw in trying to get a group picture with said toddlers is impossible. This is the best one I got out of 20 different photos. The owlets were more interested in throwing the rocks!

I thought for sure the owlets would sleep on the train ride back. No such luck! They were extremely tired and irritable though and that made for a grueling ride back. I lost count of how many tantrums Keaton threw but it seemed like every 10 minutes he was throwing a fit about something new. Of course he was the most tired because he didn't sleep well the night before. 

We headed back to the cabin to pack our things and we headed home. We were going to stay for dinner but I could sense that we had outworn our welcome so I said we would head on back. The sighs of relief were so audible that I knew I had made the right decision. So we headed back and left the family to enjoy the rest of their vacation in peace. Peace is what I had on the ride home too because thankfully the owlets slept the whole way. When we made it home they were so excited to see their dad and play with their balls. I was just happy knowing we were about to get back on our schedule and I would have happy owlets again. Going away is nice but coming home is even better.

Monday, July 29, 2013

DIY - Coordinate Wall Art

Mr. "Owl" and I were married for 10 years before we had our twin owlets in 2011. Needless to say our lives changed drastically on April 13th of that year. We always swore that we wouldn't allow them to take over our house. Yeah RIGHT!!! That didn't happen! From the day we brought them home they have completely consumed our main floor. When we would sit down at night after the owlets went to bed we couldn't rest looking at all the kid "stuff".  Most people set up a playroom for their kids, if they have an extra room. We decided to finish our basement, but not as a playroom for the owlets. This is OUR sanctuary. A place we can go and escape each night after the wee ones have turned in for the night.

There are two things we love to do more than anything and that is watching movies and reading. So we made ourselves a movie theater and a home library. We only finished half the basement so there are two rooms, a hall and a full bath. The bathroom has a nice large shower that has a rain shower head in it. On days we work out (our home gym is in the unfinished side of the basement) we can take a nice relaxing shower before heading back up to the chaos that is the rest of our house.

I have been slowly decorating the spaces. Check out the scrabble tile wall I made for the theater room. Now, the DIY project for the library is now complete. I wanted to do something that showed all the places Mr. Owl and I traveled before we had kids. I liked the idea of a map but then I realized I had a pallet outside from the construction phase of our basement remodel. I had left it outside so it could "weather". I decided to make a coordinate wall of all the places we have been.

This is how it turned out....

 Here is a closer look....

Now for how I did it....

 STEP 1: Take pallet apart.

I think this was one of the hardest parts of this project! Leaving pallets out to weather naturally gives it a nice patina but it also makes the nails rust and very hard to remove. My suggestion would be to take it apart and cut it to the size you want, THEN leave it outside to weather. The reason I say to cut it is because when I cut mine the places I cut did not have the weathered look of the rest of the board. My lesson learned is your knowledge gain.

Here is the picture of the boards after I took them apart.

STEP 2: Decide what length you want.

Make a list of all the places you have traveled and find the coordinates for each location. If you look up each location on Wikipedia it gives you the coordinates for that particular location. We have been to 24 places from the time we got married until the owlets were born.  I decided that I wanted 3 rows of 8. So I calculated the boards should be 18 inches long. I then printed the coordinates off on a piece of paper. I used the font American Typewriter - Condensed and the font size was 150. It was a lot of trial and error but this is what worked the best for the space on my boards. I used a circular saw to cut the boards.

STEP 3: Trace Coordinates onto Boards

Here is where I hit another snag. On my scrabble tiles, I used a method of rubbing the backs of the letters and tracing them onto the wood. Let me tell ya!!! This does not work on weathered wood!! So, since I do not have a fancy die-cut machine (yet!), I had to improvise. What did I do, you ask? Brute force, that's what! I used a lot of pressure with the pencil and traced the letters on the wood. My hands were exhausted!!!!

You can barely make it out but do you see the 44?

 STEP 4: Hand Paint

I used craft paint I had on hand to paint the boards. Mr. Owl is getting his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech so I have decided to use their school colors for decorating the library. My inspiration came from some coasters I purchased last year. I think they are so cute!

I had gold and white that were perfect but the blue paint wasn't quite right. So, I mixed it with white and black paint until I got the blue I wanted. The places that have the gold direction letters are the places we LOVED and would like to go back to. Everywhere else we loved but not enough to go there again.

Excuse the mess of my kitchen in these photos.

When I was done I thought it was missing something so I hand painted the locations on each one. Not perfect, but hey, rustic was the look I was going for anyway.

 Here are some more pictures of the final project. Hope you like it. I plan to do another project of all the places we go as a family for my boys to enjoy upstairs.

I hope I have inspired you to do your own take of the coordinate wall!