What I’m Into (March 2017)

Disclosure: The links below are affiliate links unless otherwise stated, meaning if you purchase something from my link I will make a small percentage in commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Open Hands, Open Home!

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’m into from this past month.

March always seems to fly by. I remember in high school there were all kinds of things going on that made it go by so quickly like tennis matches, baseball games, spring break, etc. Then in college, it was always when the weather got consistently warm enough to hang out on the quad or find somewhere to hang up some Eno hammocks with friends. Also, my mom, dad, and brother all have birthdays in March. Needless to say, we’ve been running a million miles an hour it seems like, but more on that farther down in this post.

Reading-Related

I read some really great books this month, and I learned about the magic of the library holds system. I put a few books off my TBR on there, and wow, I got way more than I thought I would right away. I am slowly making my way through them!

Another reading-related thing that I have found and love is Books By The Pound. It is a bookstore near where we live, and you pay for your (used) books based on how much they weigh. I got The Chronicles of Narnia collection and four other books for $19. You can’t beat that. I will be going there again (hopefully Sam will let me) to get more books from my TBR list.

“For as long as she could remember, she had thought that autumn air went well with books, that the two both somehow belonged with blankets, comfortable armchairs, and big cups of coffee or tea.” // The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald has been on my TBR list since I began keeping up with it. This book was so charming! The small-town setting gave me a nostalgic sense while reading it. It is also packed with lovable characters and a bookstore, which makes for a perfect book to snuggle up on the couch with. I couldn’t put this book down once I started it, and it was a great, light read that had a happy ending!

“Our limitation is God’s opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain’t nothin’ you can do, that’s when God takes over.” // Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore was one of those books that I knew about for a long time but had never read. It is the story of two unlikely friends and the woman that brings them together. It far-exceeded any expectations that I had built up in my head. It was such a heart-wrenchingly beautiful story. It was fast-paced but not a page-turner with short chapters and alternating perspectives. I think this is the book that I have cried the most in ever. This is a book that I would recommend to anyone!

 “Strange, how such a small realization can affect everyone’s life forever. In movies there is always a carefully staged moment – a big crescendo of music, close-ups of the actors’ faces, the camera slowly pulling away to let all this sink in for the viewer…but, in real life, most all of the extraordinary things happen with no more loudness than a whisper.” // Eli the Good by Silas House was a great, YA read. I don’t really know how to explain the book, except that it made me feel good. Eli is the most precious character that you end up really loving. I loved his observations about his family and everyday life. This was a good, quick read!

“Life changes you, even if you don’t realize it while it’s happening, and it turns out you can’t take back the years that have passed by.” // The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel has a lot of the elements that I love in a book! The family secret, the lovable characters, and the pretty much happy ending made this one that I will always remember. World War II was woven into this story in a beautifully tragic way, and it showed the reality of how war tears people apart. It also illuminates that people, no matter how difficult, will come together to help in times of great difficulty.

I also did a reading recap of the first ten books I read this year in a post here.

Watching-Related

This Is Us is just incredible television. I know that’s not really news to anyone, but wow. The finale was a bit disappointing I will say just because I thought we were going to find out what happened to Jack. I’m okay with prolonging it though, I guess. The redeemable part of that episode was Randal telling Beth that he wants to adopt. TEARS

I’m still watching Grey’s Anatomy, but mostly because I just have to finish it. I have to stick it out. It could be redeemed if they brought back another original cast member maybe, but we’ll see how it goes…

Yes, I am one of those people that watched The Bachelor, and yes, I was one of the people that picked Vanessa as my favorite. I was really sad for Raven just because she is so sweet, and I am more than a little bit annoyed about the way that they announced Rachel as the bachelorette before she was even off the show. I’m glad Nick’s season is over. I never really liked him…

Survivor is back, and it is crazy, as always. If you watch it, you know what I’m about to say, THAT TRIBAL COUNCIL was ridiculous, and the fact that Malcolm is the one they voted out makes me so mad. Get rid of Sandra, people!

Lastly, I made a bracket this year, so we’ve been keeping up with March Madness. I only made a bracket because our group of friends made one and a date night is on the line. I think I did decently, and at the time of writing this, it’s between my husband and one of the other guys to see who wins. Go UNC (that’s who we need to win for us to win the date night :))!!

Baby-Related

The IKEA high chair is the way to go when it comes to high chairs people. It’s cheap, and it is easy to clean! You can’t beat a $25 high chair people, you just cant. We’ve also been using this zip-up picnic blanket that my mom let us borrow to hang out outside with Henry. He loves it, but now that he’s mobile, he doesn’t really stay on it very well… Anyway, we’ve been keeping that accessible since we’ve had all this beautiful weather lately.

My brother got Henry some sunglasses that look a lot like these. Henry likes to take them off, but they are so cute when he does leave them on for a bit.

Will also bought Henry this Carter’s Baby Boys Baseball Cap . It is so cute! Henry will actually leave it on for awhile too. My parents bought the outfit that go with the hat too. Henry has no shortage of clothes or accessories, mostly because of his grandparents.

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Thanks, Mom, for this super cute picture of H!

Food/Drink-Related

While in Birmingham this past week, we visited Feast and Forest for breakfast with some friends. It has a really cool feel, a loft-type area, yummy food and coffee! It was a spot I’m sure we will visit again.

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We also went to the new Pizitz Food Hall in Birmingham with the same friends. We had bowls from Ono Poke which were essentially all the things from a sushi roll in a bowl. SO. GOOD. There are all different kinds of food from all over the world there, so it is definitely a place we’ll have to go back to to try more things!

Listening-Related

This was an impulse buy for us. We knew that we liked the Ed Sheeran stuff we had heard on the radio, but we had never been big enough fans to buy his other songs. We impluse-bought the deluxe version of his new album at Target, and we have been listening to it non-stop! I think Sam says, “Oh, I like this one!” to every single song, except track one.

I’ve also been listening to some podcasts recently, which I’ve really enjoyed. My favorites right now are The Popcast, which is about pop culture and is so funny. I find myself laughing out loud and talking back to Knox and Jamie the whole time. I’m also loving What Should I Read Next? for all my reading needs. This is one of those shows that I’ve gone back and listened to old episodes while waiting for the new one each week. Lastly, Sorta Awesome is another great listen. It is about all things awesome. I’ve really enjoyed it!

Blog-Related

I took a little break from Motherhood Monday (unintentionally but life got crazy), but it is back now! Jessica V. is my latest mom with a sweet story and some great words of wisdom. I’ve also been more intentional about blogging my photo sessions. There are several sessions on the blog that I would love you to look back at!

Life-Related

Life has been crazy around here lately. Sam had ACL and meniscus surgery at the beginnig of March. That required me to drive him around pretty much all month.

We’re also facing a big transition for our family. We haven’t really announced what that transition will be yet but keep checking back to find out what that may be.

We got to spend a week traveling and seeing family and friends, and I’ve been trying to carry my camera around more to take pictures of everyday life. This was a good time to start this practice.

Lastly, Henry is crawling, clapping, waving, and squealing all the time. He is such a happy baby, and he loves people.

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Henry has always loved bath time, and now his favorite thing to do is splash!
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We celebrated the March birthdays on my side of the family this month!
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Henry with both of his maternal great-grandmothers.
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We can’t wait for Aunt Maci and Uncle Aaron to get married in June!!
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Henry got to meet and hang out with Rhyken, who is only 3 days younger than him.
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Henry with his Maw, Sam’s grandmother. She had a picture of Henry’s great great great grandfather, who was always named Henry!

That’s it for this month! Like I said, keep checking back to see what the big transition for our family is. We’re really excited about what’s to come!

 

What I’m Into (November 2016)

Disclosure: The links below are affiliate links (unless otherwise noted), meaning if you make a purchase from them, I will make a small percentage in commission. Thank you for supporting Open Hands, Open Home!

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about some of the things I’m into this month.

Okay, so November flew by faster than I ever remember it flying by before. Maybe it is because I’m getting older and no longer have a Thanksgiving Break to look to for rest. Maybe it is because I have a baby who seems to be growing and changing so much every. single. day. Or maybe its because Christmas is right around the corner and now that I’m an adult I am fully responsible for getting good gifts for everyone on my list. Regardless, November is over already.

It was a great month here in the Roberts household though! We had lots of big things that happened, and we have been soaking them all up, or we’re trying to at least. We had the opportunity to see lots of friends and family with Thanksgiving. We got to travel to Charleston, SC; Savannah, GA; Decatur, AL; and Alabaster, AL. Lots of miles, lots of people, and lots of fun. So without further adieu, here are the things I am into this month:

Reading-Related

 “Some of the best things in life come when you’re not planning on them. It’s important to see them for the gift they are.” // “Child, the good Lord got plans for all of us that we don’t know–and he always got his reasons. He want us to learn and rejoice in the good that come from his design.” // “We family; they ain’t all about blood, you know. Families is people lookin’ out after each other, not hidin’ behind secrets.” // I got Whistling Past the Graveyard from my local library this month. It has been on my to-read list pretty much since I decided to make a to-read list and stick to it at the beginning of this year. When I saw it at the library, I grabbed it, and it did not disappoint. This book is set in 1963 Mississippi. I loved the main character, Starla, and while there are some heart-breaking parts of the story, they are balanced with Starla’s laugh-out-loud comments. It reminded me of The Kitchen House: A Novel a little bit, which I read earlier this year and loved as well.

 “Any man in this world, Atticus, any man who has a head and arms and legs, was born with hope in his heart. You won’t find that in the Constitution.”  // “You said, in effect, ‘I don’t like the way these people do, so I have no time for them.’ You better take time for ’em, honey, otherwise you’ll never grow.” // “Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends.” //  “Dear goodness, the things I learned. I did not want my world disturbed, but I wanted to crush the man who’s trying to preserve it for me. I wanted to stamp out all the people like him. I guess it’s like an airplane: they’re the drag and we’re the thrust, together we make the thing fly. Too much of us and we’re nose-heavy, too much of them and we’re tail-heavy–it’s a matter of balance.” // Another book I got from the library this month and finished was Go Set a Watchman: A Novel. I am a little late to this party obviously, but I just got my hands on this one and loved it too. Maybe I was already in the mindset after reading Whistling Past the Graveyard since their settings are similar. Jean Louise Finch, or “Scout” you may remember her as, stays true to herself and her beliefs, fighting the very people that she loves when it comes down to it. I am disappointed by the number of people who didn’t like this book. SPOILER ALERT: I understand that people did not like Atticus Finch’s character to be tarnished, but this book is real and raw. Like my friend Sara said, “the reader becomes disillusioned alongside Scout, realizing that her father isn’t perfect.” This one may not be your cup of tea, but I thought it was great.

 I’m still reading A Prayer for Owen Meany: A Novel. It is a long book, and I went to the library while I was in the middle of it, so I have a little bit more of a “deadline” to read those books, since I own this one. Like I said here, the characters are great and make me want to continue reading the book, especially because I am not sure exactly where it is going at this point. It has been a great read so far, but there are some parts that are a little risqué and some language too (just a heads up!).

I’m still reading the other two books I mentioned in my November Reads as well, but those are going to take time, and I don’t want to talk about them every month.

Also, reading related, my favorite way to buy e-books is after getting Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Kindle Deals sent to my e-mail everyday. She sends out great books that are marked down for Kindle and sometimes audiobooks as well. I hardly ever pay full-price for an e-book thanks to these e-mails.

Watching-Related

As most of you have probably heard, This is Us is absolutely fantastic in the most family nostalgia, heart-wrenching, tear up every week kind of way. John Mayer even likes it. If you haven’t given into the buzz and watched it yet, I, along with a bunch of other people, encourage you to take the plunge.

Sam and I are also watching Survivor: Millenials vs. Gen. X. I know that “no one watches Survivor anymore,” but we do, and we like it. Also, can I just say that I do not like being a millennial? The way the represented us on the show is both typical and disappointing. I don’t know who my favorite is this season still, but I will continue watching until I do.

I was watching Grey’s Anatomy after catching up (finally) on Netflix, but now we are at a break until January, which makes me sad. The winter break finale or whatever its called definitely left me hanging, as Shonda always does, so I’m looking forward to its return at the beginning of 2017.

Other than that, I’m making my way through One Tree Hill on Netflix. I was flying through at the beginning, but then I implemented a rule of no Netflix or TV in general until noon, and my pace has slowed a bit. Either way, its pretty good in the guilty pleasure kind of way.

Baby-Related

The Angelcare Bath Support is something that we have used with Henry since he was like a month old, but since this is my first What I’m Into post, I thought I would include it here. This is one of our very favorite baby gear items. We even gave it as a gift to some of our friends who are expecting. It sets in the bath tub and holds your baby while letting the water in as well. This has been a great solution for washing Henry since its part of his bed time routine every night.

I don’t know if y’all have walked by the baby/toddler section in Target recently, but holy cow, Cat + Jack clothes are so cute. Our favorite ones for Henry are the Baby Boys’ Lined Jogger Pant in Sandstone (not an affiliate link) and the Baby Boys’ Denim Jeans in Dark Wash (not an affiliate link). We love the elastic waist band on both of these, they have been durable and haven’t faded in the wash so far, and they are just cute. I’m probably going to have to sneak some more of these clothes for Henry for Christmas (shh, don’t tell Sam).

I saw this book at Publix, of all places, while grocery shopping and picked it up for Henry’s first Christmas. Goodnight, Ark is such a cute book, and I just saw there is a Goodnight, Manger as well that I might have to order. Its about all the animals getting scared and/or woken up, so they all come sleep in Noah’s room. Super cute, the words rhyme, and the pictures are really well done.

Food/Drink-Related

Yes, I succumbed to the La Croix trend. I tried the La Croix Pomme Baya Sparkling Water, and to be honest, I did not like it at first, but after making myself drink a couple, I found them really good. Weird, I know, but you can’t help what you like and don’t like, right? I’m going to try more flavors and see how I feel about them as well.

This Sausage and Cream Cheese Breakfast Casserole from Plain Chicken is delicious. I have made it for overnight guests, my parents when we stayed with them, and for breakfast for dinner potlucks at church, and there is never any left over. It’s delicious.

Oh, and if you like iced coffee/cold-brew coffee, try the Spiced Sweet Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks. It was really good when I tried it.

Listening-Related

When I went to the Belong Tour with some friends this month, I heard Nichole Nordeman for the first time, and she is fantastic. I even linked her video to the song “Slow Down,” which is a tear-jerker for the mamas out there in the blog post I linked above. After hearing her speak at the tour as well, her heart is just as beautiful as her voice and music. Here’s another one of her songs, for your listening pleasure.

Internet-Related

Amy Lynn Andrews sends out a Useletter once a week, which has a lot of good internet tips in it! I have also referred to her page for a lot of blogging questions that I’ve had about affiliate links and whatnot. Her website is a great resource.

She also recommended the website Workflowy, and I have been using it for everything since then. Once you get the hang of it, it is a great tool for notes, to-do lists, and anything else you need to keep track of.

As I mentioned above, I also love getting Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Daily Kindle Deals to my e-mail. It is one of my favorite things I subscribe to.

Blog-Related

I wrote a post about adoption that really shows my heart about the topic. The rain that we finally got in Alabama and Georgia sparked another post. I also did a post about the way that we are keeping up with pictures and family memories with something I’m calling the Family Memory Catalog.

Life-Related

We kept up with what we were thankful for this month, and it was great! We filled out notecards and drew little pictures to go with them. It is a Thanksgiving/November tradition we plan on continuing.

This month was a busy one for us! At the beginning of this month, we went to Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA on a business trip for Sam that Henry and I tagged along on. It was a lot of fun, and we ate lots of yummy food.

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We got to see a lot of family and friends because of weddings, Thanksgiving, and Henry getting dedicated at church. It was good to spend time with people we love.

Lastly, we are about to move!! We will no longer be living in the third-story, back apartment. We are moving to a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom rental house that is next door to some of our new friends. We are really excited about it!

That’s it for this month!!

ATL to Charleston, SC to Savannah, GA in 60 Hours

Before Henry was born, Sam traveled a pretty good amount for his job. When we got close to Henry’s due date and for the first 6 or so weeks of Henry’s life, Sam slowed that down. Things were a little hectic, to say the least. Now that we’ve got more of a routine, Sam has started to go out of town a little bit more often again. When he told me at the end of last week that he had to go to Charleston and Savannah for work, I immediately jumped at the possibility of joining him. We contemplated how difficult it might be with Henry, but we decided to take the risk and turn his business trip into a little family getaway.

We left Monday around noon (after Henry pitched a major fit…) and got to Charleston around 5:30. Unfortunately it was already getting dark because of the time change, but we didn’t let that deter us from seeing at least a little bit of Charleston before we hit the hay for the night.

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Henry’s first time in a hotel!

We put Waterfront Park into our Google Maps and started driving. (We were staying in North Charleston for Sam’s job.) After driving for about 25 minutes, we parked on the side of the road, got Henry’s stroller out, and set off for dinner. We decided on sushi for dinner and got out our Yelp! app. We found Sushi Blue, which was about a half-mile walk away from where we parked. (Yes, we realize we could have parked near the restaurant, but what fun is that?)

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I snapped this picture when we went back by during the day.
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Henry was a hit at the restaurant, and a kind stranger even offered to take a family picture after seeing us with our camera.

We got the Yum Yum roll, the Buddha Belly roll, and the crunchy shrimp roll. They were all pretty good, and since we were there during their happy hour two of the rolls were just $6 each. I got a southern mule, which had sweet tea vodka in it. It was also part of happy hour and only cost us $5. Overall, we had great service, good food and drinks, and didn’t pay an outrageous amount, so we were satisfied with our meal!

After leaving the restaurant, we wandered around Charleston. Since it was a Monday night, it was a calm, quiet night. It was also in the low 60s, so we got to wear our sweaters and hoodies.

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We didn’t really have any destination, so we just walked around. We found some cool alleys and historic sites, but we decided we would have to come back for lunch the next day to see more of the city in its glory.

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Had to snap a picture of Henry’s!
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Part of the City Market. There weren’t any vendors there since it was a Monday night.

We ended the night at Waterfront Park. I snapped a few pictures, and we sat on a bench for a few minutes and talked to Henry. After a pleasant night out, we decided to head back with a plan to return the next day!

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It was beautiful at night, so we were excited to see it during the day!
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Even on vacation, we had to squeeze in a bath for Stinky Jr.

We got up Tuesday morning and ate the breakfast at our hotel. Sam went out and did the things he needed to do for work, while Henry and I hung out in our room and packed up our stuff. Sam came back and picked us up, and we headed to Charleston!

After asking a friend for a restaurant recommendation, we decided on Jestine’s Kitchen for lunch. We were going to meet one of Sam’s co-workers there, so we walked around for a little while before we went to lunch. The first things we discovered included going back through the City Market and St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church.

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We walked through the market and were amazed that vendors come back everyday to set up their booths after seeing it empty the night before.
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The view of St. Phillip’s from an intersection of the City Market

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St. Phillip’s is beautiful, and it has a large cemetery across the street with some very old tombstones.
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Sam was such a good sport letting me take pictures while he pushed Henry on some very bumpy sidewalks and cobblestone streets.

After wandering around a little bit, we headed back to Jestine’s Kitchen. Before we even got back, we decided that we were going to get an appetizer. We got a basket of cornbread, which was served with honey and butter. I got the pecan fried chicken breast sandwich with fries and a sweet tea, and Sam had the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and mac’n’cheese. Needless to say, it was Southern food, and it was delicious. We had a great experience with an awesome waitress.

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Notice the turkey salt shaker. I can get on board with a restaurant that makes sure to celebrate Thanksgiving before Christmas.
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Henry was enamored with the turkey salt shaker.

After lunch, we headed over to Peace Pie for some ice cream sandwiches with pie filling. Y’all. So good. I had a pecan pie, Sam had a new classic, and Eli, Sam’s co-worker, had a coconut cream pie. We got to interact with the owner, and he was really nice and answered all of our (many) questions.

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Peace Pie is in this stretch of buildings.

After getting our ice cream sandwiches, we wandered around some more with the intent at seeing Waterfront Park and Rainbow Row before we left for the day. We found some alleys and walked some extremely bumpy cobblestone streets (that Henry slept through).

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Sam had to take a business call, especially considering this was a business trip.

We made our way to Waterfront Park, and it was just as beautiful as the night before. The fountain was pretty, and there were lots of families around having picnics and throwing their coins into the fountain making wishes.

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We wrapped up our Charleston wandering by heading to Rainbow Row. This was one of my favorite things we saw in Charleston. The houses are so brightly colored, and it just puts you in a good mood. We saw several people with cameras snapping pictures of the houses and window flower boxes.

After a somewhat lengthy walk back to our car and a fussy Henry, we hit the road for Savannah. We left around 2:30 and got to Savannah around 5:00. We checked into our hotel and took a few minutes to chill out. Henry was very appreciative of the time.

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We got on Yelp! and found Treylor Park for dinner. It was only a 3-minute walk from our hotel and had good reviews. We walked into a cool atmosphere with friendly staff. I ordered a “Peach Pit,” which had peach cider and bourbon, along with a few other things, in it. Sam got the Biscuits Benedict, which was right up his alley. I had the patty melt with chips. We got the banana pudding creme brûlée for dessert, which was served in a mini-cast iron skillet with vanilla wafers. All of our food was awesome, our waiter was great and offered us recommendations when we needed them, and the atmosphere was something we enjoyed.

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After dinner, we headed back to the hotel, so we could watch the results of the presidential election while resting up for a half-day of wandering through Savannah before heading home the next day.

We got up and packed our things after deciding that we would go eat breakfast somewhere, explore Savannah, go to Sam’s job, and then head home. We decided on eating at a breakfast place called Henry’s, pretty much on the name alone. Sam and I both got Henry’s combo, which is essentially their version of a Waffle House All-Star Special. The combo included 3 eggs, bacon and sausage, 2 pancakes, and grits. I substituted hash browns for my grits though. This may have been my favorite meal we had on the trip, but I am partial to breakfast food. Our waitress was also very sweet.

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His very own restaurant!

After breakfast, we went wandering around Savannah. We went by the Savannah Cotton Exchange building, River Street, and several of the squares around town. We even made our way to Chippewa Square, where Forrest Gump was filmed, but unfortunately, the bench is no longer there.

We didn’t have much time on this trip in particular, but if/when we go back, I would love to do a carriage tour of both cities and be able to spend more time seeking out historical sites. There is so much to do, we definitely didn’t have ample time to cover it all.

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On our way home, we stopped in Macon, Georgia on the Mercer University campus and ate a late lunch. We had Francar’s Buffalo Wings, and anyone who knows me knows I love buffalo wings. We got 15 wings and a large fry to share, which was plenty for us. Our food was good, and we had great service!

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We sat outside and enjoyed the weather to give Henry a good break from the car.

Overall, we had a great trip and ate lots of yummy food! What are some of your favorite things to do, see, and eat in Charleston and Savannah? Comment on this post or e-mail me, so I can begin making my list for next time!