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Kiawah Island

Eek! I'm so behind in my blogging!

A few weeks ago, Landon and I decamped to Kiawah Island with my parents and sister for her 25th birthday. The island is gorgeous, and definitely hasn't been overdeveloped. There are miles and miles of biking trails, untouched beaches as far as you can see and a great shopping area just a short bike ride away.

I'd been to the area before--I actually worked at the Carolina Girls shop at Freshfields Village a couple of times after law school when they were understaffed--and, in high school, my sister and I went to Camp St. Christopher just a stone's throw away on Seabrook Island. However, I hadn't ever stayed in the resort before, and I loved it.

The first night we were there, we celebrated Amber's 25th birthday. That's a quarter-century old! When I was 25, I had just ended an engagement and decided that I was going to drop out of law school...Amber's gainfully employed and is building her first house at the same age. Guess who's the more responsible sister?!?

Amber loves Jane Austen, so Landon and I got her the annotated Pride and Prejudice. It has pictures and notes on what the characters would have been wearing, as well as cultural and historical notes.

We had Oreo cake from Kaminsky's. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

The house we rented came with five bikes, which we took full advantage of. I did learn that riding a bike and trying to take pictures at the same time was a difficult task to accomplish.
kiawah island vacation rental
We stayed just off of this street.
One of our bike rides took us down to The Sanctuary, the only hotel in Kiawah. Can you imagine getting married on that gorgeous back lawn overlooking the ocean?

We apparently are not very good bike riders, as I almost crashed into a tree, Mama pretty much vaulted over the handle bars and Daddy skinned his knees when he fell off of his bike. I blame these events on faulty equipment.
Mama and Daddy keep on trekking. 
Kiawah actually has a gated section inside of the general gated community. The super gated section is called Vanderhorst Plantation, and it's where all of the super glitzy people live.
kiawah island
The Ocean Course club house. 
The people who created Kiawah resort back in the early '80s took care to leave much of the environment in place. I loved biking around and finding little ponds (with little alligators!), deer and turtles everywhere.
The pond closest to our house
The cottage where we stayed
I had a great time with my family for an extended weekend. We ate waaay too much and got sunburnt...but isn't that what you're supposed to do on a beach vacation?

King of the Swamp

Landon loves being outdoors: hunting, fishing, kayaking, random nature walks. You name it--he's all for it. He's been an avid hunter since he was just a little thing, long before I knew him, but he's usually hunted what I consider to be normal animals, mostly deer and turkeys. 

However, his love of nature and hunting took on an entirely new twist when two events happened: the show Swamp People came on, and South Carolina began offering entries to a lottery for alligator tags. 

And yes, Landon has entered the lottery for the last three years that South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources has offered the alligator tags. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you're considering my poor heart that would have to deal with my husband out hunting something that could bit back), Landon hasn't won tags in the last two lotteries. We haven't found out about this year, but he's still gung ho on all things gator-related. 

So, that's why he had an alligator/ Swamp People themed 28th birthday party this past week!

My parents and sister decorated my parents' house to look like something out of the swamp, complete with camo table covering, an alligator pinata and green plates. 

And what is a swamp without a plastic snake or two? Of course, Landon had to wiggle the snake in front of the camera. Ew. (I don't care if it is plastic. It still looks like a snake!)

Amber and I spent one hot and sweaty afternoon on the porch painting Swamp People t-shirts. Landon's shirt read "King of the Swamp." (He wishes!) We also had "Cajun Princess" (Amber's, of course), "Choot 'Em!" (mine, complete with tiny painted rifle and alligator), "Dat's a Tree Shakah, Baby" (Mama's), and "got gator?" (Daddy's). It was really simple to do: we just bought a pack of swampy colored pocket t-shirts and used yellow fabric paint to add Swamp People sayings.

Amber is the baker of the group, so she volunteered her services to bake "Ol' Swampy." He's just a bunch of cupcakes covered in green frosting. The scales were chocolate Honey Grahams, the teeth and eyes were marshmallows and the claws were banana Runts. So cute (and tasty!).

Amber working on the appetizers. The camo party hat is a must for any aspiring chef!
Our menu?
Appetizers: Fried Alligator Tail (pretty good: like a chewier version of chicken)
Entrees: Chicken with Red Rice, plus Muffalettas for Landon and I (Oh, Corner Grocery in NOLA, how I wish you were closer to Charleston!)
Dessert: Ol' Swampy (above) and vanilla ice cream

Landon had a special birthday boy alligator hat that we made him wear.
All in all, a GREAT birthday party! I loved that we had leftover cupcakes from Ol' Swampy. Guess what's been my breakfast and snacks since then? :)

Happy Birthday, Landon!

My husband's birthday is today--he's 28! (So old!)

My family and I have quite the party planned for him tonight, but he has no idea what to expect because we've kept most of the details a secret.

The arrival of Landon's 28th birthday means that we've officially known each other for nine years--we met around the time of his 19th birthday during our Clemson University orientation. I'm so proud of the things that he's accomplished during that time, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.

I'm thinking that this year will be the best yet--we're both going to be 28 this year (I'm right behind him with a birthday in November), and that feels like a really grown up year. We got married when we were 25, bought a house when we were 26, went to Scotland when we were 27, so who knows what will happen when we are 28!
Christmas 2005
With friends at a wedding last July
At a Clemson tailgate, September 2011
The Trossachs, Scotland, November 2011
Landon's 26th birthday

Happy Birthday, Landon!

Vacation 2012

Landon and I both took some time out of our busy schedules this week to have a "just us" vacation. It was so awesome! We hadn't really planned much of anything because we'd been so busy--Landon at work making those loans and me with the end of the school and London trip--so, when we finally sat down at the end of the week last week to figure out what we should do, we were faced with lots of options. Should we go to Disney World? Savannah? the Outer Banks? Do we want to just park it in Charleston for a stay-cation? We didn't want to go too far away (so no airplanes or days in the car), so we were limited to whatever was in a five or so hour driving radius.

We were still pondering this over when I opened my email and saw my Groupon for the day. And surprise, surprise, guess what was being advertised? An AWESOME deal at this adorable inn in Balsam, North Carolina--just a few hours drive from Charleston. Within a few minutes, we'd booked our vacation and our plans began to solidify.

First, we decided to go to Anderson for a few days to see Landon's parents, sister and brother-in-law and to drop off Phoebe for her own doggie vacation with Landon's parents' dogs.

Then, we headed up to Balsam Mountain Inn--the mountains were gorgeous and the weather was so pretty (it even got down to 55 one night!).
balsam north carolina
{Balsam Mountain Inn}
We went tubing and swimming in the Tuskasegee River, shopping in Waynesville, and lazying around the hotel. There weren't any TVs in the entire place, so we read and hung out on the porch and even attempted to do a puzzle (we gave up after an hour's work yielded little more than half of the exterior pieces). The entire experience was awesome, and I hope we can go back soon.

blue ridge parkway
With our vacation hats at a Blue Ridge Parkway overlook
blue ridge parkway
The view at one of the overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway

balsam mountain inn
Landon enjoys the fresh mountain air on the front porch of the Balsam Mountain Inn.
balsam mountain inn
Taking time out to smell the flowers at the inn
The last few days of our vacation were spend around the house here in Charleston. We went to the beach one day, and I sorta kinda forgot to put sunscreen on my super pasty legs. And now, I've got a horrid sunburn on my legs. Definitely the low point on the vacation. Let's hope some aloe will keep the peeling to a minimum. Blech.

Our original stay-cation turned into a seeing Landon's family/ mountain retreat/ beach weekend combo...but I wouldn't have it any other way. It's back to work for Landon tomorrow, and I've got a whole list of things to do around the house...plus, I need to work on my lesson plans for next year (yes, already! eek!). Happy Summer!