Fun in Atlanta….


Back in the autumn we took a fun trip to Atlanta, GA. We’ve gone to Atlanta many times ….. we have family there; but I thought I would share a few, fun little things to see and do while you’re there for anyone that may be going for the first time.

We started our fun at the Country Living Fair…..if you have never been to a Country Living Fair, put it on your list of ‘to-do’s’! There is one in the spring in Ohio and one in the fall in Atlanta. It is definitely worth it.

My Little One thought this was definitely the best way to see everything…on the back of Grammy’s scooter!  {You can read my 25 Things Atlanta Version Post here.}

Country Living Fair in Atlanta Country Living Fair in Atlanta

Another great spot that you cannot miss {if you have never been} is the Georgia Aquarium. It is the world’s largest aquarium….and it is truly a treat. Handsome and Grammy had never been and they were in awe……so fun!

Georgia Aquarium

One of my favorites are the moon jellies…they glow in the dark…..

Georgia Aquarium Jellyfish Jellyfish at the Georgia Aquarium Georgia Aquarium

Right outside the aquarium is Centennial Park….the center hub of where it all happened when the Olympics were held in Atlanta in the 90’s. {CNN is another great place to visit.  We did that a few years ago and it was a lot of fun.}

Centennial Park

The walkways are paved with pavers that have messages on them from people that donated to the building of the park…..

Centennial Park in Atlanta

The week that we went to Atlanta was a little over a week after my grandmother passed away…and we happened to find a brick with this message. I called my grandmother Ma-Ma… it was special.

Centennial Park in Atlanta

In the same block as the Georgia Aquarium and Centennial Park is the World of Coke. A treasure trove of all things Coke.  You can watch Coke being bottled and taste Coke products from around the world.

World of Coke in Atlanta

Here’s the Coke couch from American Idol….

American Idol Sofa at World of Coke

This is the very first Coke dispenser…..

First Coke Dispenser

No trip to Atlanta is complete without grabbing a bite to eat at The Varsity! Serving great food here since 1928. “What’ll ya have” is the first thing you’ll here when you step up to the counter….and you better have your order ready, they won’t wait!

The Varsity The Varsity Counter, Atlanta

Downtown Roswell is another really fun spot to spend time and play……it’s a treasure trove.

Downtown Roswell Downtown Roswell

{Source for Roswell pics}

While you’re in the area another one of our favorite places to explore is Marietta…you can read my Marietta post here.

Yours truly in Marietta with the famous pistol that Scarlett O’Hara used in Gone With the Wind…..

Oh the thoughts running through my head! {No worries…I haven’t acted on any of them!}

Scarlett O'Hara Pistol from Gone With the Wind

Do you have any tips on anywhere you’ve been lately? I would love to hear them, because we love to travel and learn about new spots!




NYC Recap {Day 4}

Thanks for coming along on our NYC journey with me the past few weeks! It has been fun remembering all the adventures No. 1 Son and I had…and all the wonderful memories we created, we had an incredible time together.

Day 4 was our final day…but we had all day because our plane didn’t leave until late that night.  We headed to Union Square to have breakfast… this clock tower in the Flatiron District…….

clock tower in flatiron district

The unmistakeable Flatiron Building…..

flatiron building

The Flatiron District is home to the NY Film Institute…there goes my heartbeat change, again! 😉

NY Film Academy

Just a few blocks from the Flatiron District is Gramercy…..a wonderful neighborhood.  Gramercy Park is the only private park left in NYC. The residents in this neighborhood pay a yearly fee to have a key to the park.  They are the only ones that can use it……

Gramercy Park gramercy park bench

In Gramercy..right across from the Park is the original home of Mr. Harper…..the publisher that started Harper & Row in the 1800’s……

Harper & Row House

I just love brownstones!

gramercy park south

After exploring Gramercy we headed a few blocks east, over to Chelsea…another wonderful neighborhood….and home to City Stage. {There goes my heart again!}

city stage

Here is Clement C. Moore’s home…the one in which he wrote “Twas the Night Before Christmas….” It is in an area of Chelsea that is now referred to as Millionaire’s Row. If you want to live there….you need to be one! Isn’t it gorgeous?

millionaire's row

Around the corner from Clement C. Moore’s home is Pete’s Tavern….where O. Henry wrote “Gift of the Magi” so very many years ago. He sat at a table by the window and wrote it in one sitting.

pete's tavern

One of my favorite things about Chelsea is Chelsea Market. This building is the former Nabisco factory…and it has been transformed into the most wonderful market that has incredible bakeries, stores, restaurants, and also houses the Food Network…all of their shows are filmed here in Chelsea Market.

chelsea market

Looks fairly tame on the outside, doesn’t it???

chelsea market front

But once inside……wow! Super industrial…they have tucked all of the businesses within these wonderful factory walls so well. Isn’t this light fixture great?

light fixtures in chelsea market

They blasted through walls to make the main hallway….and left the walls as they were blasted…..oh, how I LOVE this!

inside chelsea market

The elevator…out of reclaimed/repurposed factory metal….

chelsea market elevator

The stairway is the entrance to the upstairs studios where Food Network is housed….

food network at chelsea market

A wishing well…..

waterfall in chelsea market

Aren’t these walls wonderful??? I want a wall in my home like this….

wall in chelsea market

After our Chelsea adventures we headed to the subway to take one last walk in Central Park……and ran into an artist that was drawing all the people that stood and waited for the train. He was so talented. He would not take money…said he was just working on his skills. After drawing each person he handed them their portrait.

subway artist

Flower street vendors everywhere…..

flower market in nyc

We enjoyed one last stroll through Central Park East before having to head out to the airport. We were dragging out feet…and didn’t want to leave!

central park east

We already have a list of things we want to do next time!

Have you ever been to NYC? What is your favorite part?

If you have never been and want to plan a trip…feel free to contact me and I will be glad to share with you our favorite places to stay, etc.

Our annual Christmas party is tomorrow night….and I will spend today covered in flour…baking and getting ready. I’ll let you know how it goes…..

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Merry, Merry~


European Christmas Markets…….

I have always wanted to go to Europe during Christmas…especially when the Christmas Markets open. It is the most incredible site……all over Europe these seasonal, gorgeous outdoor markets pop up in town centers and edges. Many of them are small, wooden structures that are just for Christmas Market.

There’s wonderful food, ciders, Christmas decorations, etc.  A bit of everything Christmas. It’s like stepping into Santa’s workshop/village at the North Pole.

This is definitely on my list!  I thought I would share some pictures with you……

The market in Dresden…..



Germany (Deutschland)…..

















If you would like to see more fun pics of Christmas Markets…feel free to visit my Christmas Market Pinterest Board here.

Has anyone ever been to the Christmas Markets in Europe?  I’d love to hear about it!

We are readying the cottage for our big, annual Christmas Party coming up this weekend! Between baking and greenerying I will be trying to coax all the dust bunnies out of hiding.

AND….today we are having our farmhouse sink installed!  Woohoo! I. can. not. wait.

Too much goodness. I could pass out from giddyness.

Smelling salts anyone?


NYC Recap {Day 3}

By day 3 of mine and No. 1 Son’s trip to NYC we had gotten all of our ‘must see’ list checked off for the most part….and we just started wandering. {I made sure we wandered to wonderful places! :)} There’s so much to see, experience, and do in this great city….and it was fun sharing some of my favorite parts with him.

We headed up 5th Avenue…..Bergdorf Goodman loves to wrap itself up.  At Christmas they are entirely wrapped in red ribbon and bows.

With No. 1 Son being an Apple NUT….we couldn’t pass up going to the Apple Store on 5th Avenue.  It is open 24 hours a day, it looks like a cube of glass sitting on the sidewalk and you have to descend down in the glass ‘tube’ to get to it. It’s our favorite Apple Store. {You can see The Plaza peaking up outside……}

Right behind the Apple Store is F.A.O. Scharwz! Such an incredibly fun place…for all ages! It is a toy store like no other….

The giant piano…..made famous in the movie Big with Tom Hanks. You can take one home for a mere $25,000. We thought about it…but, you know, the whole ‘getting it on the plane’ thing…….

The Plaza….love to go here and have Creme Brûlée. It is the best!

Eloise has her own oil painting in one of the main hallways…..

The lobby…..

One of the entrances to Central Park……

Benches line the walkways…..Central Park is a beautiful place….a respite from the city. It is such a stark contrast to what it is in the middle of……

The Sheep Meadow…..this is the shot seen most in movies and TV shows when Central Park is used….

Strawberry Fields…..
John Lennon Memorial next to Strawberry Fields…….it is cleaned off almost daily. 
The Dakota…..the home of John Lennon, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, etc.  Many more famous people live here. In order for someone to buy a home in The Dakota the residents have to ‘vote them in’ and approve of them.  When Madonna wanted to buy a home here they would not let her. ha!

Entrance gate to The Dakota…..

The doorway in which John Lennon was shot many years ago……

Beautiful Brownstones in Central Park West…..don’t these make you think of The Huxtables?

Tavern on the Green is being restored after falling into great disrepair over the past several years. It will be a treat to be able to go here once again and eat. It’s located inside Central Park.

Columbus Circle…..the Trump Tower clock right outside Trump Tower…

After heading out of Central Park and having lunch in Columbus Circle…people watching….we headed to Lincoln Center. My heart actually beats differently in this part of town. I love it. It’s like home……

Juilliard…..a place of intense hard work and many hard knocks.

Carnegie Hall….. No. 1 Son loved just being inside. He is a concert violinist, so this was a special place to him. There are three different stages inside this grand hall….with performances simultaneously going on at all times.

After enjoying our time at Lincoln Center, Juilliard, and Carnegie Hall we hopped on the subway and headed down to Chinatown…….

And Little Italy…….

Hand-rolled cigars on Mulberry Street in Little Italy……

We had dinner at Lombardi’s Pizzaria…..America’s first pizzeria. It opened in the 1800’s.

In the state of New York all arraignments, etc. must be open to the public. So, since No. 1 Son is very interested in law and criminal studies we spent the night at the NYC Criminal Court Building watching and observing the felony arraignments. They start at 5:00pm and go until 1:00am. Non-stop. It is unbelievable. We only stayed a few hours and then headed out…’s not the greatest place to be super late at night. Especially when you realize that you are leaving the building with some of the people that just got off on bail….and you know what they did! Chinatown is not the best place to be after 10 or 11, either…and the criminal court building is located in Chinatown. We headed out around 9:30 to catch the subway.

I want to say it was a very entertaining night…..and in many ways it was; but it was also very sad.  I got to sit next to the people being brought in…shackled, handcuffed, destitute. I got to look them in the eye. Some were steely-eyed….some were hollow. Most were very definitely deeply wounded. Most had done horrible things. I’m big on justice….and it was easy to have the attitude ‘get rid of ’em’, ‘lock them up forever’, etc…….but I’m also a “fixer”, and I wanted to look so many of them in the eye and tell them that this is not what they were made for…..they were a treasure and God has great plans for them, but they are missing it. I wanted to tell them that they were made for better than this.

It was a powerful night to say the least. It was great for my son to see real life law being practiced. Not glamorized by TV, etc. Lives were being greatly affected that night….including ours.




NYC Recap {Day 2}

So, I spent 4 hours at the DMV yesterday so my Beautiful Middle could get her permit.  The testing computers were down. While we were waiting, who walks in but Billy Joe Bob! If you don’t know who that is…read this post and you’ll know! Lord, help me!

We are getting ready to have the farmhouse sink installed in our kitchen…woohoo!  Guess who will be installing it and up-fitting the cabinetry? #16 & #17 of this post.

It’s surely a small world. And this week I feel as though it is closing in on me.

Here is Day 2 of my adventure with No. 1 Son in New York City…..

I love St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I have a bit of history here. I was in a special service, and during the prayer I dropped my candle and caught a piece of carpet on fire. While everyone else was being spiritual I was trying to stomp out flames so I wouldn’t go down in history as being the one that burned the largest cathedral built in America down. I was very pleased to visit it this time and find that the carpet has FINALLY been removed. Up until now every time I went I could visit my burn spot! humph.

Aren’t these doors incredible?

Just a block away we headed into Rockefeller Plaza.

And, of course, we had to get on the Today Show….our family back home enjoyed seeing us be cheesy in the crowd. 😉

The Anthropologie at Rockefeller Plaza is my very favorite one in the whole U.S.!

Some of the best views in the city can be found at Top of the Rock. This was a gorgeous autumn day and it was beautiful on all four sides.  {If you’ve never been to the top of the Empire State Building….you still have to go. It’s like an unwritten rule or something. But for the best views….be sure to go to Top of the Rock.}

Beautiful Central Park…..The Plaza just left of center….

Looking down into Lower Manhattan…..

Lower Manhattan…..the new Freedom Tower in the very back…..

Next we headed to the NBC Studios….to take a visit to the stages. On the way to the Saturday Night Live stage there was this fun ‘living wall’.  All of these plants were living. Wouldn’t that be fun to have on a deck or patio?

{You can’t take pictures of the studio sound stages….so I don’t have any fun ones to share with you. Bummer.}

Next we headed to Hell’s Kitchen. This used to be one of the roughest areas of NYC.  Years ago it was so infested with gangs that gang members outnumbered police officers in this area 10,000 to 1. This is the area that West Side Story was based upon. In the past when I was in NYC this area was avoided by anyone that had any sense. You knew as soon as you had made the mistake to turn the wrong corner, or cross into Hell’s Kitchen. Today it is a flourishing artsy neighborhood with bakeries and apartments…it is a sought after area to live in. It still has a bit of an edgy feel….but a fun place to explore. {Those of you that know me well, know that I like edgy. ;)}

Hell’s Kitchen is the home of Donna Bell’s Bake Shop….owned by “Abby” {Pauley Perrette} from NCIS fame. She named the bakery after her mom. We stopped to have a snack. It’s a southern bakery…and it was delicious; except we do need to teach them how to make Sweet Tea. 😉 Sweet Tea is neeevvah, nevah, neeeeeeevaaaaaahhhhhhh instant. Always brewed. Always.


Some apartments in Hell’s Kitchen that have been renovated and brought back to their original glory days…….

We then headed down to Greenwich Village. A great place to spend the afternoon. Greenwich Village is home to Washington Square Park…..made well-known by the beatniks that have called it home since the 60’s…this is also the park in which Bobby Fischer played chess. We spent a lot of time in Washington Square Park visiting and talking to people. It sits pretty much in the center of NYU {New York University}. I love visiting with people here. I always learn a lot……

You can find a bit of everything in this park….here’s the bird man……

And one of the chess tables in the park that Bobby Fischer played upon daily…..they are still filled with people playing chess, and conning, and winning, and losing……they tried to get us to play…but chess is just not my game. I offered to play Uno….

They didn’t go for it.

NYU pretty much surrounds the park and makes up most of Greenwich Village….along with the wonderful shops, cafes, bakeries, etc……

I love this emergency call box on Bleecker St. in the village…….it is from the turn of the century and is still used…….

After we explored the village’s every street and nook and cranny and had a great Mexican meal we headed to Blue Man Group. I’ve seen them many times, but No. 1 Son had never been to a performance. He had a blast. If you have never gone…make a point to go sometime in your life. It not so much a performance as an experience.

Our Blue Man that visited with us after the show…….

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!

I’m thankful for you guys hanging out with me a few minutes each day….


NYC Recap {Day 1}

A few weeks ago No. 1 Son and I took a fun trip to New York City.  He had only been when he was very young…..2 and 4, and it was a super quick pass-through.  This was his first official visit to The Big Apple.  A place that is near and dear to my heart. 🙂

I thought I would take a day each week over the next few weeks and share some of our highlights….it won’t be everything that we did, but I’ll try to hit the hot spots.

We left super early in the morning…my favorite time to fly because here on the East coast of the US it means that you will be able to watch the sunrise from above. Just stunning…every time. I never get tired of it.

After dropping off our bags at the hotel it was only 7:30am….and we headed to Grand Central Station to catch the subway to lower Manhattan.

I love the architecture and design here….isn’t this ticket window gorgeous!?

Our first stop was Battery Park where we had a NYC pretzel for breakfast.  The pigeons joined us. It’s a bit of a sobering spot……where the Orb is now standing as a memorial to 9/11. It used to be shiny…a perfect orb that sat in the courtyard between the two towers. Many times I had sat in the courtyard where it was located and had lunch. The Eternal Flame burns just next to it.

We hopped on the ferry and headed out to the Statue of Liberty…..long may she stand! She was just reopened after a lengthy renovation and restoration.  You can now go all the way up to crown once again. This lovely lady is the first thing immigrants would see as they entered the harbor……their hope swelled. They had arrived.

I loved the ironwork on the tables at the outside cafe…..oak leaves and acorns! I think we need one of these here at Oak Cottage!

Ellis Island was our next stop…I could stand and look at these trunks left by immigrants at the turn of the century for hours……soaking in the many stories that they hold. If they could talk….I’d love to sit and listen. We found both sides of our family in the registries.

Here is the grand registry hall….every immigrant waited here to be called. An anxious place to be….would they be allowed to stay or not? Check out the tiled ceilings.

We spent some time at the 9/11 Memorial. Hard to put into words how it felt being there. There are two large fountains that stand in the footprints of the North Tower and the South Tower. The water pours into a deep hole in the center. The names of all who perished on that day are carved around the sides. The Survivor Tree has been replanted in a special spot.  I love the story of this tree. It suffered greatly on 9/11 and all thought it was lost; but a group dug it up and took it to a nursery/greenhouse and nurtured it for years. It was a mere 8 feet tall on the day of the 9/11 attacks……today it stands over 30 feet and is flourishing.  You can read about it here.

There are already residents in the new Freedom Tower 1……#2 is well on its way, too.

This fireman’s helmet at the 9/11 Museum was very touching to me. My dad is a retired fire chief.  This helmet, worn by a chief that was injured was handed to another fireman as the injured fireman was being taken out of the tower. It ended up saving the other fireman’s life.

On that horrible day……two strong towers that had withstood much, literally melted.

Trinity Church served as a hospital on 9/11….it is also the church in the movie National Treasure.  Behind Trinity is the infamous Occupy-ers….still occupying. We had to step over them to get down the sidewalk.

And right across from there is the New York Stock Exchange.

We headed uptown after exploring all over lower Manhattan and went to the top of the Empire State Building. {If you’ve never been to NYC…it’s just something you have to do. There are other spots with better views….but you just have to go to the top of the ESB once.}

No. 1 Son’s wallet fell apart…so we headed into Macy’s…the world’s largest department store to get a new one.  One of my favorite parts of Macy’s is the still useable wooden escalator……….love it!

Walking up Broadway from Macy’s and Herald Square we headed into Times Square after dinner to see a show. This once seedy place has been very cleaned up in the past decade. It’s still a crazy place….but much different than it was prior to 9/11. The energy is palpable….and I LOVE it!

Les Miserables….will always hold a special spot. This gold medallion is encased in the sidewalk in front of the Broadhurst Theatre. It closed in 2008. COME BACK LES MIZ!!!

We had tickets to the fairly new musical “Nice Work if You Can Get It” with Matthew Broderick. All George and Ira Gershwin tunes……it was a fun show. But I have to admit that I’m not very good at sitting in the audience. I’ve always been the one on stage…and I don’t really like being in the audience.  No. 1 Son kept telling me to be still. humph!

Just a few of the highlights from our first day…….it was a full 18 hours, and we crashed!

I’ll share some from day 2 next week.  I have taken each one of our children to NYC individually….and had so much fun. It is a different trip each time because they each have different things they are interested in and want to do. We love to travel as a family…but I also love to take then one-on-one and have fun adventures.

How about you? Have you ever traveled with your children one-on-one?

Have a super day….and DON’T FORGET TO ENTER TO WIN THE AWESOME MOEN SHOWER FAUCET!!! The winner will be announced Friday evening! You can enter here.

Happy day~

Preparing & Celebrating…..

You guys are such a blessing! Thank you for your notes, comments, and e-mails about the loss of my grandmother last week. They were all sweet ministry to me. It has been quite a week…..but God has seen us all through and is pushing us into a new season.

This past weekend we got to celebrate this lovely ‘little girl’……

{She’s always been my ‘hat buddy’….we both love hats!}

who now looks like this…….

and turned 15 yesterday! She blesses us each and every day and we had fun celebrating our middle one over the weekend. She is a treasure. Today we are headed out to get

THE PERMIT! {Prayers are very welcome…..}

She’s so excited. Just another facet of this new season.

We are also preparing to head down to Atlanta to see Nanna & Papa…always a fun trip. We will get to go to some fun places and have some fun adventures.  I’m excited about all of them…but I think I am MOST excited about The Country Living Fair!

I’ve always wanted to go, and it was such a fun surprise to find out we would get to be there this year.  Have any of you ever attended?  If so, be sure to let me know some ‘not-to-misses’, etc. 🙂 It will be nice to get away for a bit.

I will be sure to share pictures and tell you all about it when we return.

Hope you week is off to a great start~

On an Adventure……..NYC Bound!


In the wee hours of the morning today I headed to NYC with my #1 Son {a.k.a. Handsome, Jr.} I am so excited to share a very special place in my heart with him!  We’ve been planning for a long time, and I can’t believe it is here.  We will be in the city that never sleeps for the next four days…..and it’s going to be a great adventure. You can follow our adventures on instagram, if you’d like…..right here. {@cottageintheoaks} Or you can scan this with your phone:

It’s his senior year……and we’ve wanted to do some special things with him this year.  I think we do a lot of special things with our kids….but we wanted to do some really special, super, standout things during this Senior year. {He’s also headed to China in a few weeks!}


I have taken each one of our daughters to NYC individually and now it’s #1 Son’s turn! I have treasured the trips and adventures that I’ve had with each of our children individually…..traveling with just one at a time is a very special adventure. Ones that I {and I hope they} will treasure forever.


Even if you take them to the exact same place….it is like 3 different trips. It is so wonderful to see what makes their eyes sparkle, where they see beauty, what excites them, what draws them in………..seeing through their eyes and hopes – right to their hearts.


I want my children to have deep roots…not shallow. I feel that part of having deep roots involves travel and new experiences and adventures.


With each new adventure you learn more about your place in the world, who you are, your purpose, your heart’s desires. It adds another dimension.


I was so blessed to do a great amount of traveling all throughout my whole life….even from a very young age. It has been an important part of polishing who I am; and has always been my best teacher.

Travel…whether just to another city or state..or to a whole other country gets us out of ourselves…to see beyond where we are individually. It gets us out of our comfort zones and can test us, energize us, help us live beyond ourselves.

Have you ever been to NYC? What is your favorite area/restaurant/thing to do there?

I am sure my 17-year-old will want to check out the Apple Store on 5th Ave.


If you have never been….it’s a fun experience.  You enter a clear glass ‘tube’ and descend into the ground….which is where the store is located. I’ve been there several times…and it’s still fun. 🙂

Hope you are having a super week~

Ever Wonder Friday {No. 4} ::: & the Country Living Fair!

I’m so excited! I have always wanted to go to the Country Living Fair….it is held only twice a year….in Ohio and in Atlanta.  It’s been on my list of things to do since it started years ago.

I just found out that I am going to be in Atlanta……the SAME time as the Country Living Fair next month!  Woohoo!  Country Living Fair here we come! I can hardly wait.

Is anyone else going?  Have any of you been before?  Give me some pointers and tips….and not-to-misses.

I’ll be sure to give you a recap after I return.



1.  Do you know how to dream with your eyes open?

2. If not now, when?

3.  How would you introduce yourself to God?

4.  Do you know where you are on your journey?

5. Your destiny is coming…..are you ready?

Have a fantabulous weekend!

Trips vs. Vacations……

I love to travel….for any reason. I’ve spent much of my life traveling on wonderful adventures; and was blessed while I was young to do lots of traveling. Those adventures are some of my most favorite memories of growing up.

trips vs. vacations


Sometimes we take trips, and sometimes we go on vacation. They are two very different things….even though both of them are fun.

trips vs. vacations


Trips are when you travel to visit family or friends, or travel with several other people. Trips are great, but they are not vacations.

trips vs. vacations


Vacations are when you go on a wonderful retreat with just you and your spouse, or you and your immediate family….spouse and children. There is no schedule….just away on a fun adventure relaxing and playing in a spot that nourishes your souls. Fabulousness!

When one of my children just came in the room and saw the title of this post…she said “VACATIONS!” It is the unanimous cry from all five of us here at our cottage. Trips are wonderful and we look forward to them…..but vacations are our favorite.

Have you had any trips and/or vacations this summer?

Which is your favorite?

Have a wonderful weekend~