Blue Ridge Southern Christmas

Saturday, December 26, 2015

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This Christmas was weird in that most of the men in the family (you know, the guys who wear the beards and red hats and pass out presents?) had recently departed the family to pursue affairs with strange women. So, Sky took over present management, and J joined the girls on a warm Blue Ridge hike.

If you haven't spent time in Blue Ridge, it's worth it. We stopped at a view point on our way to Anna Ruby Falls in Helen.

I can't be sure what kind of person grafittis "THE BEARD" at a mountain lookout. To each his own ... beard. I guess life delivered the beard after all? Funny.

Anna Ruby Falls was packed. We weren't the only ones who thought it would be fun to get out. I think this is one of little H's first waterfalls!

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone had time with people they love!

Anna Ruby. Bearded. Family.

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MARTA's Response

Friday, July 3, 2015

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If you missed my earlier post about a health incident on MARTA, Atlanta's public transit system, check it out.

It was so nice of MARTA to respond.

Good afternoon Ms. C,

We really appreciate you taking your time and sharing and submitting your comments to the Customer Service Department. I have forwarded the information to the appropriate department on your behalf. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience you experienced witnessing the unfortunate incident during your commute home from the Braves game. I can assure you safety and security on our system is very important to us. In every station, we have blue “Emergency” phones that directly connect customers to our Police Communications Center and white assistance phones to directly connect customers to the Customer Service Department. In the event of an emergency, you may use either of these phones and police will be dispatched immediately to the scene. Also, at the Five Points Station, there is a Police Precinct and you may alert any MARTA officer, a MARTA Station Agent, or any other MARTA employee for further assistance in these situations (and others). In addition, there are call buttons on every train in each rail car, which will alert the rail operator immediately, the train will be stopped, and the situation will be accessed right away. Starting next month, the authority will begin installing cameras on every train; this project is expected to be completed by year’s end. This initiative, currently in the pilot phase, is being tested on six trains throughout the system. This security measure, in addition to cameras on buses and Mobility vans, is another way we are ensuring our customers feel safe. Even with all this technology, we still encourage our customers to let uniformed officers know if they see anything out of the ordinary. Since the inception of the “Ride With Respect” campaign in 2013, MARTA has suspended approximately 4,900 individuals for engaging in inappropriate behavior. Of that number, there have been 362 arrests for panhandling and 2,500 suspensions for fare evasion.

However, despite our best efforts, there will be times we can’t catch everything. Ultimately, we want our customers to have a positive rider experience, but we need their help to ensure the ninth-largest transit agency in the country remains one of the safest transit agencies around. We encourage you, if you have a Smartphone, to download MARTA’s “See & Say” app from iTunes or Google Play. The app allows customers to covertly take a flashless picture and send a text to MARTA’s police communications center. Once the information is received, an officer is dispatched immediately to the scene.
In addition to preventing crime and other security hazards, MARTA police have provided first aid and comfort for our customers, from senior citizens to young children. I hope this information is helpful for you and again we apologize for your experience while on our system. We certainly hope your future experiences are pleasant and we thank for allowing MARTA Customer Service Center to assist you today.


 • Customer Care Representative
2424 Piedmont Road, NE • Atlanta, Georgia 30324-3330 • (404) 848-5000 •
Please consider the environment before printing this email.


Thank you for your response!  My biggest concern was the man on the ground and my having absolutlely no idea about AED presence or med kits.  The rest was not a big deal, just life.  :)  


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Atlanta Fun! A Bubble Tea Habit

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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I can't remember the first time I had bubble tea, but it was love at first tapioca ball.  Here are a couple of my Atlanta bubble tea favorite spots:

This is a local shop started with bubble tea as its inspiration. Everything from the logo to the locale at the edge of Old Fourth Ward is artfully done.  I love the vibe in this shop: The chalkboard wall with art from local artists, the locals reading and popping fat straws through the tops of milk tea!

I've been to the Midtown location.  They have the prettiest chandelier!  The pastries are sweet, savory, and all beautiful.  The drinks are pretty standard, including---the bubble tea!  

This is a local shop, and it feels like it!  The owner is there, absolutely hospitable with a big smile.  Lots of local high school kids gather here and play cards in the evenings.  Their online presence is pretty limited, but they have bubble Thai tea!  

There are so many more to try!

Bubbly. Tea-ish.  Icy.

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Oh MARTA!: That Time a Guy Might've Died on the Train

Friday, June 19, 2015

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I had a brilliant idea I would ride the train to the Braves game tonight.  You know, avoid the mess and cost of parking?

And enjoy a super hot, but breezy and gorgeous day.

The way there:
--Parked my car at a station with free parking.  Yes!  So convenient.
--Pay stations were down.  Ok, free ride!  Thank you!
--Get off at Five Points to catch a bus to Turner Field.  Men are prophesying on the street corner in protest of what happened in Charleston.  People start arguing.  I decide to take the train a few more stops and hop on the shuttle to go directly to Turner Field. Um.  Ok.  Adventures!

The way back:
--Get back on the shuttle.  The driver did not know how to get to MARTA, so after about 20-minutes of driving in circles, another passenger hopped up front and directed the driver to the station.
--Get on the train.  There are a million bikes on the train because tonight was Atlanta's 3rd Annual Moon Ride!  Yes, it's already on the calendar for next year.

Pay Attention Here:
There's a man standing in the doorway that leads to the connection between the trains.  He falls.  A lady asks him if he's ok.  He nods and mumbles.  We leave the station.  The man crashes to the ground, and the lady asks him again, louder now, if he's ok.  She can't get a response, so they call on the emergency phone for help.  Everyone is worried that the man might be diabetic or could have had some kind of seizure. The train stops at the next station.  It was probably 35-minutes from the time of the call to the time the police and paramedics showed up.

EXCuse ME?  MARTA, is this acceptable to you?  *I'm forwarding them a link to this post.*  There are no instructions about medical emergencies on the train, I did not see a first aid kit, and I have no idea about the possibility of an AED.  If that man had been having a heart attack, he would have died.  Is there a reason why the captain cannot do an "all call" and ask if there's a doctor aboard?

We disboarded after the paramedics rolled their gurney toward the man, who was now propped against a concrete pillar outside the train.  Just drunk?  Homeless?

I got on another train, got propositioned, missed my stop, backtracked, and ended up at my car about 2-hours after I boarded the shuttle from Turner Field.  Forget the time issue, what about the health responsibility issue?  Do you know that airplanes over a certain size are required to have one defibrilator and one enhanced medical kit?  The AsMA suggests a more elaborate kit, but its not required.

Stories of medical emergencies on Amtrak
The Virginia Railway Express's Explanation (including mention of a defib on each train)

I can't find info about MARTA's emergency plan anywhere, and apparently, these medical emergencies aren't that uncommon.

Looks like I'll be driving next time.

shhhhMARTA, I tried.  Atlanta really needs you, but you need a reputation overhaul.

Sleep.  Sleep.  Sleep.


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Running Goals: I'm Putting Them in Writing

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

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I grew up more of a reader than an athlete.  My books were pretty heavy, and in certain situations, you might see some extra flexibility in my wrists from flipping pages.  It is what it is.  My dad was a pitcher for his high school baseball team, but I didn't find out until high school.  We weren't the family sitting near the dugout cheering every weekend. 

This woman is not me.  She's skinnier and more determined than I am.  I needed to clear that up before continuing.

I got into running in college.  A friend of mine was in the latter stages of cancer, and I was coming to terms with some big questions, like: Who is this God?  Huh?  and Eh?  I would head out to the freezing football field at the university and run mindless, steamy-breath, mittened laps around the track.  It was healing.  I fell in love with it.

Dear running, I still love you.

But I've had a crazy 9-months.  My parents, who have been married over 30-years, are muddling through a divorce or something.  Don't ask.  Yet.  I've stepped into a new career field.

Hey running, it's time for that healing again.  Endorphins, are you there?

Here's my goal:  3-miles, 5-days a week, 3 weeks.
I think that's all I need to remember the truth:  I love running.  I can do it.  I meet my goals.

Here goes.  

Sweat.  Sweat.  Sweet.

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Eclectic Summer Mix Tape

Monday, June 15, 2015

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One of the best parts of a summer road trip is putting together a commemorative mix tape (which are much less fun when called "playlists."  Another fun thing is subjecting the fun kids in your car to your mix!  Who wants to ride with me?? :)

10.  House Party, Sam Hunt
For:  Break that boom box out.  Please tell me where to buy a boom box, and it's done.

9.  Budapest, George Ezra
For:  The woos, the fingerpickin, the creative creepy creative video.

8.  Cheerleader, OMI
For:  The brass.  The beat.  Dear God, teach me to salsa.  I know it's pop, but this song makes my hips move to the heartbeat of my imaginary life as an island girl.  Give me an orchid and dance with me.

7.  Springsteen, Eric Church
For:  um.. didn't I say this would be a summer playlist?  This song reminds me of Missouri country summers, and it's still on repeat in my head.  Well, now it's officially summer.  You said it, Eric Church.  Springsteen.  Done.

6.  Coming Home, Leon Bridges
For: Did you catch that classic Bruce Sprinsteen pic above?  Now, pair that with the warm, classic malt shop vibes of Leon Bridges, and dance with your baby around the living room--preferably about sunset.  You're welcome.

5.  The Motown Song, Rod Stewart
For:  Haha.  Are you awake again?  C'mon.  A yellow blazer with shoulder pads, but you don't have to take my word for it.  I take that back.  Do. not. watch. the. video.

4.  6 Foot, Adam and I
For: How authentically cute they are.

3.  Pa Bailar, Julieta Venegas y Bajofondo
For:  Heat, we needed it after number four, huh?

2.  Bad Blood, Taylor Swift
For:  You know you're singing along.

1.  Lean On, Major Lazer and D.J. Snake
For: Dramatic dancing around the living room... or in your car--preferably while wearing braids.  For the chipmunk autotune. Of course, also for remembering that all we really need is someone *sniff* to lean on.


Bills, Lunchmoney Lewis
Excluded For: I don't want to think about bills while jamming to a summer list

One more I love but am forgetting in this moment.


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The Girls: One and Eleven

Sunday, June 14, 2015

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My sister and brother-in-law have the best house for pool parties!  So, on Saturday, we cruised up to join in the fun.  My neices are almost exactly ten years apart.
Jason was a good sport about the party hats.
H had her first cupcake!

Family love.  

Good Times.  Pool Party.  Love.

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Transferrable Skills of Teachers

Thursday, June 11, 2015

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Hey All,

Many people in the Greater World Outside the Schoohouse seem to think that teachers spend their days staunching runny noses and helping kids pick Crayolas for their coloring pages while patiently watching the clock for recess and the calendar for their three months of summer to arrive.  It's not 1955, but even if it were, I doubt that fantasy would apply.

Maybe other teachers are having different experiences.  Regardless, I thought it would be helpful to someone else out there to see a list of transferrable skills that teachers have. Fellow teachers, do not let the world undervalue you.  That was a pep talk.  Did you hear the pom poms in my voice?

1.  Data Analysis and Response:
As a former teacher, I can collect, analyze, transform, and present data.  I have been expected to have "a pulse" on every living being in my classroom and his or her progress on at least 15-standards at once.  I can create slide decks, use formulas in Excel, run a regression analysis, and create a plan of action to get my client (little Bobby Smith) back on track.

2. Public Relations:
As a former teacher, I can compose messages that balance the negatives with the positives.  I have been expected actively to maintain professional relationships with over 100 clients and their families, community partners, four different local professional communities, district-level management.  I have participated in small meetings with legal ramifications, large team meetings, and district-level meetings, leading at times. During the course of 10-month intervals, I have maintained a professional Twitter, a portfolio website, a student website, an Edmodo site, and a weekly email, and all during a 60-minute per day allotment.

3. Public Speaking:
Is anyone else out there a middle school teacher?  If you can stand in front of a hostile audience, make them laugh, charm them, keep them challenged, or even keep their attention for 20-minutes, you can do anything.  As a former teacher, I can identify a purpose for a presentation, organize key points, create an agenda, and present my points in a range of situations-- with no handouts when the copy room is out of paper, with no projector when the bulb blows, with no prep time when a coworker calls in, with a mentally unstable person in the crowd creating distractions. I am experienced handling a range of disruptions.

4.  Team Management & Leadership:
As a former teacher, I have had interns (we call them student teachers), chatted with new teachers, co-led departments, and played decision-making roles in clubs and committees.  I've learned the value of speaking up, and I understand the importance of staying quiet.  I can create a procedures structure within my team and consistently follow through with rewards and disciplinary actions.  I can listen to my team's feedback, manage their growth, and produce results.  Then, I can help them own their results and work toward self-management in the future.  I am an advocate in my field for things I am passionate about.

5.  Content Knowledge, Training, and Learning:
Some say, "those who can't, teach."  I say, pardon me, but f**k that.  If you think about it for a minute, most of you will agree that it takes much more work to explain something to someone than it does to just do the task yourself.  Am I wrong?  So, those who are math teachers are content-fresh matematicians with the bonus that they are also willing and able to explain what they do to other human beings.  How many mathematicians do you know who have that bonus feature?  English teachers are writers, listeners, and content evaluators who also are willing to assist others in learning the skills.  Not only are teachers rich in content knowledge, but they have experience vetting what training works, what doesn't, and what should be adjusted mid-lesson.  The ADDIE model that HR trainers hold as a fundamental for adult trainers is identical to Backward Design.  Human beings want to understand WHY they're learning what they're learning and how it applies to life, not just adults.  Teachers are also avid learners.  Most of us are curious, interested in the world around us, and willing to listen.  We're the kind of people you'd take to happy hour.

I'm going to stop at five, though I could go on.  It is unfortunate that most working professionals, when they happen to think about the lives of teachers, consider what they knew of teachers when they, themselves, were 13: my teacher gets summers off, my teacher does nothing except lead my class for 50-minutes, and my teacher must live at the school.  World at large, the teachers I have met have been highly educated, multi-faceted, skilled professionals who are capable of a range of tasks and careers.  You, professionals, are 13 no longer; you have grown up.  It's time for your view of teachers to grow up, too.

Reality.  Skills.  Teachers have them. If you have kids, you owe them props.  If you don't have kids, you owe them props.

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My Deck Dream

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

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Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike. --John Muir

I'm a novice when it comes to real estate (one house), but I think that unless you're a tycoon and can drop cash on a house, a house chooses you as much as you choose a house.  

When I finally decided to leave apartment living behind and buy a house in the Atlanta area, I put in five-ish offers that all fell through before I landed in my house.

The original *must have* list included a deck, but I dropped that from the list, thinking I could easily add one in a year or two.  Well, I'm approaching year two, so plans are in the works.  I have to do something simple, and the ground-level decks are Midcentury anyway, so I think a platform deck is the way to go.

Here's one from a Lowe's tutorial:

Wouldn't it be fun to do something like this, too?

For a bit longer, it's just dreaming.

Outdoor life, plan it out, diy,

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Atlanta Brunch: Lake Burrito

Monday, June 8, 2015

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Update: This shop has rebranded since I originally published this post. Now, they're Lake Burrito in Cumming, GA.

"Good Food and a warm kitchen are what make a house a home."  --Rachael Ray

Ok.  I'm prone to drive to the outskirts of the metro area about half the time for a great plate, but a girl should know her city, right--even the burbs parts?

So, I love this place.  I wish I'd brought a better camera to take photos for you! I borrowed these photos from their Facebook page.  :)

Taquiera Mestizo is run by a local Cumming family, headed by two sisters. Every time I've been there, their faces have been the first I've seen.  They always remember my guy, who is a regular, when he comes in.  Follow them on Facebook for more.  If you happen to visit the restroom during your visit (of course, I only visitied the ladies room),  you'll see the walls graffitted with affirmations of women in Spanish.  A man in a bright yellow hat hosts the dining room and is affectionately known as Mr. Happy.

The food is set up in assembly-line style, and during the evenings, you can go grab a meal in the style of Chipotle.  It's fresh and homemade, the portions are generous, the service could not be better, and it's a locally owned shop.

I was shocked to learn that Taquiera Mestizo did a weekend brunch.  If you love breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, or pancakes (surprisingly, a really popular choice), you owe it to yourself to make the drive up to Cumming and give this place a try.

If you like the "mom and pop" places that make real food and feel like family when you walk in, this
place will become a regular stop for you.  I love it!  See ya there.

P.S. I'm writing this post completely on my own with no form of compensation.

Love.  Huevos Rancheros.  Mucho.

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Best Lemon Pound Cake Ever

Saturday, April 25, 2015

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Woah.  I should've taken a picture of it.  I made it from a random lemon and tub of ricotta I just happened to have for an impromptu tea time.  Yum.  I'll be making this recipe again!  It was so moist and just lemony enough.  Here's the link to the recipe.

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Greens and Oranges Scrappy Quilt

Monday, April 13, 2015

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Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today.  --Mark Twain

I wanted to throw out a quick update on this scrappy quilt top I started this weekend!  I have so many awesome quilt scraps.  I'd rather make something pretty with them than have boxes of fabric landfill.  Cheers to the scraps.

Pretty messes.  Salvage.  Salvation.

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Atlanta's Dogwood Festival

Sunday, April 12, 2015

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“With enough courage, you can do without a reputation.” 
― Margaret Mitchell
In Spring, Atlanta is covered in pollen.  Cars actually turn yellow, and so do lungs.  It's painful for the allergy sufferers.  For sure.  But with the bad comes the good.  There are flowers everywhere.  The gardenias, tulips, azaleas, peach trees, magnolias, daffodils, and . . . dogwoods are in bloom.   With the dogwoods come the annual Dogwood Festival.

The only bummer from the day is not knowing the Margaret Mitchell Museum was FREE all day!  Next year, Mags.  Next year.

J and I hopped a train down to Piedmont Park to check it out.  It was cloudy, but there was still a good turnout.  No pics of all the art, but here are some of J's action shots of the dog show.

Literary sass.  Sweet dogs.  Flying day.

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Charleston Memories & Ideas for Next Time

Friday, April 10, 2015

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I was digging through some old photos tonight, and I found these photos from a Charleston trip a few years ago.  It inspired me to make a fantasy road trip plan that I thought I'd share with you.  Maybe I can use it sometime this Fall.  :)

Saturday:  Get in the car early and drive to Charleston.  Check in, have an ice cream cone, cruise the shops, and take the dolphin cruise.

Sunday:  Have brunch, sit on the beach, take Ed's (or his associate's) walking tour, head home.

Economy Car Fuel Both Ways @ $45
Splurge at The Battery Carriage House Inn @ about $300 OR Economy at $100
Beach Time = FREE
Browsing Shops = FREE
Check out The Orange Spot, best coffee shop in Charleston
Lunch and Dinner @ 100ish
Ed Grimball's Walking Tour @ about 35 each
Adventure Harbor Sunset Dolphin Cruise @ $55 each

Economy Overnight Weekend: about $425
Extra Splurgy Overnight Weekend:  about $625

History. Palmetto Bugs.  Trips.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

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Dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.
--Benjamin Franklin
It's another gorgeous sunny Spring Break day in Atlanta, and I want to quilt!  My mom is a wonderful seamstress, and I -- I just mess around.  Here's a Seuss and a Georgia Tech baby quilt I made for friends and their new babies.

Let's see what I come up with today!  :)

Fabrics.  Colors.  Art.

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The Jetsons House

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

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You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. --Mark Twain
When I went on the hunt to buy my first house about two years ago, I imagined it might work like buying shoes:  pick it out, decide to buy it, pay for it, and move in.

I put in five offers--including one that fell through after I had the house inspected--before I found this place.
In my dreams, I live in a Craftsman something like this:

But since life has landed me in my midcentury modern place, I've embraced it!  The best places in Atlanta to find midcentury pieces are Highland Row Antiques and Kudzu and Company.  I haven't collected anything yet (maintenance on a house is no small expense), but I have dreams!

Here are some of my favorite:

Retro Dreams.  Midmod.  Elroy.

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