Monday, May 25, 2015

Life Lately: Bluffton, Beaches, Books

It's crazy that I'm finally wrapping up my first year teaching in America!  We have less than three weeks left, and I'm relieved to say that I think I'll survive it.  That is, if an alligator doesn't bite off my arm.  (Being dramatic.)  No, seriously, though, we just had Career Day with the students, and our school nurse works as a surgical nurse over the weekends sewing people up.  She said that her longest surgery was a 17 hour one involving a man who got his arm bitten off by an alligator.  Then a substitute teacher chimed in about this alligator that used to "hang out" at her local golf course that grew to be 12 feet long.  It got so big because people kept feeding it, and then it associated people with food and started getting aggressive, so it had to be put down.  Okay, my nightmares are now fueled for weeks--apparently I have an irrational fear (is it that irrational considering those two anecdotes, though??) of gators!

I'll come back from my tangent and continue talking about what I've been up to lately.  I recently spent some time in Bluffton, South Carolina enjoying an art and food festival.  One of my acquaintances was there who is from the area, and she suggested that we try some lobster rolls from the Joe Loves Lobster Rolls stall.  Oh my goodness...AMAZING!  I've only had lobster a few times in life, but I've got to take advantage of this restaurant being so close to me and go there again soon.  The event was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed browsing the booths full of locally made artwork.  A Low Country souvenir that I haven't bought myself yet, but that I still really want is a handmade Gullah basket.  There were some for sale, but I held off because there is a larger selection in Charleston. Bluffton is an extremely cute historic town that is well-worth a visit!

I had my students make this Mother's Day candle craft a few weeks back.  I thought it was a gift that my students' mothers might actually enjoy because my former cooperating teacher used to make them with her students, and they seemed to be a hit.  I went out and bought the supplies we needed: white candles, wax paper, and tissues.  I had my students start to decorate the tissues with magic markers like the example, and then used a hair dryer to have the tissues "melt into" the candle.  The only problem was that it seemed to be taking forever to stick to the candle and some of them wouldn't fully blend in.  After I pulled up the website and re-read the instructions, I noticed that it said to use tissue PAPER and I used actual tissues, ha ha.  I felt like the biggest ditz after reading that and then got paranoid that they would catch on fire if parents tried to actually light them.  The art teacher assured me that it was okay, and even though I used the wrong kind of paper they still turned out all right. #Blondemoment

I've also been to Savannah quite a few times lately.  Strolling through the city always makes for a pleasant day in my book, and I get some exercise in.  Trust me, burning calories is a good thing because I always end up indulging on something delectable in Savannah. I convinced my pal Ev to stop at Leopold's Ice Cream and we got mint chocolate chip sundaes.  After having one of those, it was so good that I don't think I'll be able to ever try anything else from there!  Also, the last time I went to Savannah, I visited The Flying Monk Noodle Bar on Broughton with a friend.  He said his food was just average, but my spicy red Korean noodle dish was just what I had been craving.

Other stuff that I've done recently is to finally try a S'Mores Frappuccino from Starbucks.  For me, it was a win, especially because I paid the 95 cents and got a cookie straw with it!  On another note, I got a library card, finally!  I checked out Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Art of Racing in the Rain, and The Goldfinch.  I've already finished Midnight... and am reading The Art of Racing in the Rain now.  Very rarely do I ever put a book down, but The Goldfinch was just NOT holding my attention and I found it a bit tedious, so I quit reading it.  Maybe that was a mistake and it would have gotten better (??)

This year, I've made it out to the beach three times already!  A major plus of living here and dealing with this high cost of living is the proximity to the beach.  Of the three times I've gone, I've been to Coligny Beach twice on Hilton Head Island.  That is a popular choice for most people because of the free parking.  It can be kind of a pain to find a spot, though.  You have to go early or get lucky most days if you go on the weekend because it can get really crowded.  This weekend, my friend Ev asked me if I wanted to go to the beach with one of his friends who knew of a more laid-back spot called Driessen Beach.  Ev and I both really liked Driessen a whole lot and would definitely go back there.  The drawback is that you do have to pay $3 for parking, but it is nice that it is less crowded than Coligny. I'm not saying that I dislike Coligny, but it is nice to change it up!

Even though I've been working hard, I try to make the most of my weekends, at least on Saturday's!

What's your favorite beach?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Four Things

Way back in April, Lora tagged me in her Four Things post. Since I have some extra time this weekend (pre-writing this post), I thought I'd go ahead and add my answers in. :)

Four Names People Call You

1) Ms. K- All of my students!
2) La La- My sister couldn't say my name when she was little, and that is what she called me.  My family members still call me that.
3) Claudia- I liked to tease my other younger sister growing up and called her Natasha one day after the villainess from Rocky and Bullwinkle, which she did not appreciate. To get me back, she decided to call me Claudia because she thought it was a really ugly name.  I didn't mind because Claudia was my favorite character in The Babysitter's Club series, ha ha!
4) Mona- People always think that they're so original when they call me this because of The Mona Lisa...I've heard this A LOT.

Four Jobs I've Had

1) English as a Second Language teacher
2) Nanny
3) Assistant manager at a movie theater
4) 1st grade teacher

Four Movies I've Watched More Than Once

1) Amelie
2) Before Sunrise and Before Sunset
3) 500 Days of Summer
4) Garden State

Four Books I Would Recommend

1) Gone With the Wind
2) Shantaram
3) Any Gillian Flynn book (Gone Girl, Dark Places, Sharp Objects)
4) A Thousand Splendid Suns

Four Places I've Lived

1) Pennsylvania
2) Ohio
3) South Korea
4) France

Four Places I'd Rather Be

1) In North Carolina with my two sisters and niece.  I'm a little devastated that I'm unable to meet them this week.   
2) On my Iceland trip with Rachael!
3) in Savannah
4) At the beach

Four of My Favorite Foods

Okay, I'm way into desserts, so probably my four faves are sweets, but for this list I decided to go with "real" foods.

1) pizza
2) spinach salad with some type of sweet vinaigrette dressing
3) Korean foods like kimchi bokkeumbap or dolsot bibimbap
4) sweet potatoes

Four TV Shows I Watch

1) Game of Thrones
2) New Girl
3) The Vampire Diaries and The Originals (Should I not admit this?  They're GOOD!!)
4) The Walking Dead

Four Things I'm Looking Forward to in 2015

1) Finishing up my first year of teaching in the USA
2) Exploring the Low Country this summer
3) Going to NYC, Iceland, and Boston with Rachael
4) Staying with my sister in North Carolina

Four Things I'm Always Saying

1) "You're trifilin'."  My bestie was yelling at his dog and said this to him, and I thought it was hilarious.  It has become a part of my regular vocabulary.
2) Ratchet.  This is because of Rachael!  I used to use the word "raunchy," a lot, but I have to keep up with the times.  I think it's hilarious to say because I'm sure I'm not in the demographic that probably says this frequently, which only makes me want to use it more.  My co-workers didn't know what it meant.
3) Whatever.  A personal fave since like 1995.
4) Oh my goodness or just Oh my God!  I'm trying not to say OMG because I live in the Bible Belt and I'm sure my students would tell me that's not nice, so I don't want to slip and say it in front of them. 

You're supposed to tag four people to do this, but I'm not going to do that.  :)  Feel free to do this if you want, and let me know in the comments section if you do it so that I can visit your blog and see your post.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fun Facts About Savannah

My knowledge of Savannah was limited until I visited the city for my first time about four years ago. Luckily, the friend who invited me to go to Savannah grew up one county away from Chatham county (where Savannah is located), so he was able to fill me in on a lot of the history.  Since then, I've enjoyed learning little tidbits about Savannah here and there. Learning quirky or historical facts about different places will never cease to amuse me, so I thought I'd share some of what I learned so far.

**I'll start with this one because even though I've been in the Low Country for almost a year now, I'm STILL learning. About two weeks ago, my friend and I went to Rocks on the Roof at The Bohemian Hotel on River Street.  We took a look at the drink menu, and I saw a drink called Chatham Artillery Punch.  I was informed that this is a rather famous drink in Savannah and that it was originally made in horse buckets in the 1800's.  Chatham Artillery Punch is a combination of rum, brandy or cognac, bourbon, champagne, lemons, sugar, and sometimes nutmeg is added.  Something funny is that it's considered to be a great party drink around here, so when I searched for recipes, many of them yielded 25 servings or more!  Eventually, I did find a recipe for a single serving if you want to try and make it.

** General James Oglethorpe came up with the layout of Savannah in the Colonial Period. Because it was a planned city, today Savannah boasts 22 beautiful squares in the midst of historic homes, churches, and businesses.  There were originally 24 squares, but Liberty and Elbert squares are lost because both of them got paved over.  Oglethorpe is a pretty famous name in Savannah and you'll see it in many places.  Of course the general has a square named after him, but there's also Oglethorpe Mall, Oglethorpe Avenue, and even a trolley tour company called Oglethorpe Tours, to name a few places.

** In the Antebellum period, Savannah's rich soil produced a significant amount of cotton.  In fact, Eli Whitney's cotton gin was invented right outside Savannah.

** The book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil takes place in Savannah--I'll be reviewing this true crime story sometime soon!

** Plenty of movies have been filmed in Savannah including Forrest Gump, The Gift (the one starring Katie Holmes), The Last Song, Now and Then, and of course Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

** Because Savannah is a port city, there has never been a shortage of guests to entertain.  Perhaps that's why Savannah is nicknamed "The Hostess City of the South."

** Some famous Savannahians include the songwriter Johnny Mercer, Flannery O'Connor, and Juliette Gordon Low.  Savannah is currently home to Paula Deen, and who owns The Lady and Sons restaurant on Congress Street.

** Savannah is Georgia's first city.

** Each spring beautiful azaleas bloom all over the city.  This year, the azaleas were in bloom in the middle of March.

** Savannah is known for its live oak trees draped with Spanish moss.

** There is free parking on the weekends in the historic district at the parking meters.

** Savannah and Charleston have always been rival cities.

** The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has an impact on the city.  The students definitely help the local economy and many of them work in local restaurants or shops.

** Savannah is a "wet" city, meaning you can carry your drinks around with you as long as they are in a plastic cup. :)

** The book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil takes place in Savannah--it's a true crime story, and I'll be reviewing it sometime soon.

** USA Today (and many other sources) consider Savannah to be one of America's most haunted cities.  There are several companies in Savannah offering ghost tours, but I recommend Blue Orb.

** During the Civil War, Savannah surrendered so General Sherman didn't destroy it. He "gave" it to Abe Lincoln as a Christmas gift.

** Savannah hosts the 2nd largest St. Patrick's Day celebration in the United States after NYC.  I went this year, and yes, it is a big deal!  The even water in several of the city's fountains is dyed green, and a green light is cast over City Hall.

Did you learn anything about Savannah?  Have anything to add? What are some fun facts about the city you live in?