Things to Do & See in Georgia Pt. 4

Over the past few weeks I have been sharing my top A-Z 26 favorite tourist attractions for the state of Georgia. I've tried to stick with places in Atlanta, but as you can see from today's list, that doesn't always happen. I'm also trying to make sure I include attractions that would interest different people from all walks of life including history museums, wildlife locations, children's exhibits, and more! Unfortunately I won't be able to cover every location in Georgia, but I hope you will share some of your favorites with me in the comments below.

Today I am covering L-O. I hope you enjoy my picks. :)


L. Legoland Discovery Centre

A children's museum, play center of sorts and Lego store, the discovery center opened in April 2012 at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead just north of Atlanta inside the perimeter. It's accessible via Marta, offers free parking (for drivers), and a fantastic shopping experience (assuming you can get someone else to watch the kids). The 32,000 square ft. space covers the majority of the third floor of the mall providing room to play, eat, and experience all that lego has to offer. As an adult, the top attraction is mini-Atlanta that has been built entirely out of legos and features some of Georgia's top attractions. (I wonder if they used an A-Z list?!) Children, who are the target audience for the discovery center prefer to watch the 4D movie, play in the ball (or in this case, soft lego) pit, ride rides, build and race lego cars, and chomp down on a hot dog while their parents sit around idly playing on smartphones praying that someone will move from one of the two seats available for sitting.

If you have young children (2-12 range) and a free afternoon, this is a fantastic market-driven location to visit. Be sure you've eaten before arrival (there are restaurants within the mall area for cheaper, better food options) and make sure your child has a pair of socks with him/her. (There is a Belk across from the Lego Center if you do forget socks, but the socks available there can get expensive.) Plan to stay for the entire day if you can, because at $15+ a person, it can get expensive. I also recommend looking for coupons before you go. For example, Goldstar is offering $9 off the price of admissions right now bringing the total price down from $21 to $12. That's a big difference and worth taking advantage of! One more note – Legoland Discovery Centre is for children only. They do offer adult-only nights, but if you try to go (as an adult) without a child, you will not be let in. Please keep this in mind before buying tickets you are ineligible to use. :)

image by Kelly A. Tyler

M. Atlanta Motor Speedway

A 1.5 mile quad track with over 111000 seats located in Hampton, Georgia, the Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of the fastest on the Nascar circuit. Originally built in 1960, the track has undergone renovations as recently as 1997 standardizing the track, swapping the front and back stretch, and allowing drivers to reach speeds over 190mph.

While I have no experience attending an event at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, you can expect to experience all things "cars" there. I currently see the advertising for a car show/car parts sale on their website. Come Labor Day, I'm certain tickets will be available for races. Finally, in their FAQ they mention being able to take a test drive and have a "speedway experience" in a race car. If you are a fan of cars (and especially fast cars) be sure to check out the AMS and find out if they are offering anything of interest for you to do during your visit to Georgia.


N. (Native American) Etowah Indian Mounds

Located near the north shore of the Etowah River, the Etowah Indian Mounds can be found south of Cartersville, Georgia. The mounds were built from 1000-1500 AD and discovered in the 19th century by European settlers to the area. While it was originally believed that the Cherokee had built these mounds, it is now believed that the mounds were built much earlier before the Cherokee would have migrated to this area of Georgia. The location provides a museum where you can view artifacts excavated from approximately 9% of the area that show the lifestyle of those who lived in the area.

Having never been to this historic landmark, I cannot speak on the worthiness of visiting or paying the low entrance fee of $6. However, this could be a fantastic place to take children who are learning about ancient civilizations. The site offers plenty of demonstrations to keep visitors entertained and well-informed.


O. Okefenokee Swamp

One of the seven natural wonders of Georgia, this wetland straddles the Florida-Georgia border and is the largest blackwater swamp in North America covering more than 700 square miles. While the swamp has endured much human impact over time, in 1937 president Franklin D. Roosevelt provided official protection for the area from logging and development by instituting the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge which accounts for over 80% of the swamp. The swamp is typically only 10 feet deep in water and the average expected rainfall for the region is about 50 inches a year. Due to the wide range of environmental conditions, a large variety of plants and animals live in the area.

With my only experience of the Okefenokee Swamp being at Six Flags (which was technically Monster Plantation when I rode it), this park sounds both terrifying and amazing to me. I picture bugs, alligators, and disgusting water among beautiful cypress trees, and all of the sounds of the south. Perhaps one day I will pay the $25 to venture out into the unknown on a boat ride, but until then I think you (my readers) will have to tell me how enjoyable this excursion is as I watch and listen from afar. ;)

Have you visited any of these places in Georgia? Are you currently planning a trip in which you will visit one? Share! I'd love to hear!

Be sure to check out my other Georgia A-Z recommendations for more ideas to make your trip to the Atlanta/Georgia area a pleasant one!

A-DE-GH-K

Recently Tried Products

Dear March,

You have been awful!

I am so glad that there are only a few days left before I am able to turn over a new leaf in April.

In the mean time, the following are my list of things that have made March just a tad bit more enjoyable:

Randoms


Thanks to Smiley360, I received a free package of Randoms gummies to try this month and boy were they delicious! The gummy flavors include cherry, orange, strawberry, grape, lemon, raspberry, and citrus. With real fruit juice and no artificial flavors packed into over 100 different shapes, I'm certain you and your family will have a blast snacking on these delightful and colorful pieces of heaven!

(Buy here.)

Adeline Organic Eye Serum


After trying the Key West Health & Beauty Dark Spot Corrector last month, I was pretty excited to be selected by Tomoson to try the Adeline Organic Eye Serum. Unfortunately, I was not as impressed with this product. Don't get me wrong – it is not a bad product at all. The majority of people who review it on Amazon love it and I probably would too if I hadn't tried the Key West Health & Beauty product last month. The biggest difference I found between the two products is that the KWH&B product made my skin soft and feel hydrated; this product definitely helps with dark circles under the eyes but it does nothing special for my skin, which I had come to expect from an under eye treatment. *shrugs*

Anyway, the tube squirts out just the tiniest amount of serum which is all you need. A little goes a long way with this product. It's the tiniest bit watery and not smooth like a lotion. I was using the product approximately once a day. Some people on Amazon, I noticed, were saying that the product may initially cause a tingling sensation, which I didn't notice. Just beware if you have sensitive skin.

While I'm glad to have tried a different product, I think I will be going back to the original product I fell in love with at the end of the month. The good news for you, though, is that you can try the Adeline Organic Eye Serum yourself with a risk-free guarantee! If you haven't found an ideal product yet to solve any under eye problems you might have, give Adeline Organic Eye Serum a go! It's obviously one of the best products available rated at #32 among all eye serums available on Amazon!

(Learn more or buy here.)

A Thousand Wishes Bath & Body Works Lotion


I received a coupon in the mail for a free travel size signature collection product from Bath & Body Works, so of course I had to take advantage! At first I began by asking Justin which smells he liked, then I quickly moved beyond my naivety and just picked something out that I liked – the Thousand Wishes body lotion. It smells delightfully fruity upon first sniff but when you put it on it has more of a floral scent.

Honestly, I probably should have considered the body scent over the lotion though. I love Bath & Body Works products overall, but their lotion is not a go-to product for me. It makes my skin feel oily and moist and just plain gross. I buy it for the smell and that's about it. Congratulations on your marketing B&BW! :)

Other options you can buy include the perfume, the shower gel, the foam soap, and the candles.

Also, surprise! surprise! You can buy their products on Amazon! Who would have thought?

(See the other products at the B&BW website.)

Dial Sugar Cane Husk Scrub


To give your hands an extra clean feeling, you can pretend you are at the spa when you use the Dial Sugar Cane Husk Scrub cleansing hand soap. :) This new product is part of the Dial® Boutique Collection Hand Soap line and it makes washing your hands feel special. The smell is not too strong and something everyone in the family can get behind – a coconut vanilla scent that won't turn away your friends, neighbors, or dogs. :) The little micro scrubbers within the soap make your hands feel extra clean and soft. In my household, we've been using this product for just over two weeks now and love it! I highly recommend making a trip to the store to check it out. :)

Check out the Dial website to learn more.

And finally: clothes! (And jewelry!)


This month I bought:

• A nautical anklet from Claire's that is super-cute. It has a seahorse, a pearl, a starfish, an anchor, and (the thing that caught my eye first) a turquoise seashell! It is absolutely adorable for the the summer and I can't wait to wear it at the beach!

• The Free People Ripped & Torn Babydoll from Belk. (But currently, Free People has the item on sale for similar pricing.) It's very comfy and cute when worn as a dress with a cami and leggings underneath. I could also see it as being a good swimsuit cover-up if you are in need of one.

• I bought the Set of 3 Silver Everyday Anklets to be worn to a wedding a few weeks ago. I had fun wearing all 3 together to the wedding. It added just the extra bit of shimmer to my foot (because obviously that's the first place everyone looked when they saw me!).

• After 3 months of owning the tan version of the Frye Parker Tall Lace-Up boots, I saw the black version go on sale at Amazon. When this happened, I immediately started looking through my e-mail for all of my Amazon codes. Did I have enough codes to pay for the boots? Answer: yes! Total spent in cash on these boots: 28¢. I think I got a good deal. Now I just need to wear them…

What products have delighted you during the month of March? Are you ready for April and beautiful spring weather?

* I'm participating in 30 Days of Lists (sort of). Are you?
** I received products from Smiley 360, Purex Insiders, and Tomoson to try for free in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are my own and not necessarily shared by the brands or companies that provided the products for me to try.

Yummy Café Du Monde Beignets


A few weeks ago I received a coupon for one of my favorite ice cream shops in town – the New Orleans Snoball Café. While it's typically difficult to convince Justin to take me out for ice cream, I was having a bit of a rough day and he was feeling … sweet, I suppose. So he took me… And all of a sudden, amidst the rain that threatened, I could have sworn I saw a rainbow. :)

Anyway, in case you don't know (and I imagine most of you don't), the New Orleans Snoball Café serves snow cones (shaved ice) in a cup with sickly sweet syrup (my preference: strawberry and lime) a scoop of delicious vanilla ice cream, and (if so desired) whipped cream, marshmallow cream, and/or sprinkles on top. It is absolutely amazing. Far too sweet to eat the whole thing, so I usually stop when I get to the end of the ice cream… But still. Amazing.

While we were there, I spotted some boxes of donut looking things, and I asked Justin about them. I recognized the word "beignet" but I had no idea what they were or tasted like. As it so happens, the one and only place my husband has now traveled without me has been to New Orleans where he actually went to Café Du Monde and tried them. He explained that beignets were like little donuts and tasted a bit like funnel cake.

I suppose I sound like a sweet-a-holic when I recommended that we get some.

Justin was going to be fixing breakfast for a total of 6 people the next morning, and I knew he needed something he could cook fast. Obviously he bought bacon and eggs to cook, but toast (unless you have some really good bread from a bakery) can be kind of bleh in the morning.

So we bought the donuts…

You would be amazed at how quickly Justin had our breakfast together that morning. In under an hour, he had put the bacon in the oven, made scrambled eggs, and put together, fried and powdered (with sugar) these delicious little donuts. With the addition of fruit and coffee, our breakfast class had gone up a notch (or two). We felt like royalty. :)


Oh, and for the record, they do taste like funnel cake. :)

If you want to give them a try, you can buy them here on Amazon or you could try a recipe online instead.

Have you ever been to Café Du Monde in New Orleans? Are these donuts something you would be interested in trying?

Blogging Is All In the Journey

Colouring Pencils via PhotoPin

The following are a few questions regarding my journey as a writer/blogger…

1. How long have you been blogging? 

Forever, it seems.

Since 2001? I think? Maybe?

BUT! (And there is a big but!) There is a difference between blogging and journaling. For at least 10 years my blogging was solely journaling. I really started trying to transform my writing to more of a blog style sometime after I got married.

2. Why did you start blogging?

I started keeping a diary sometime in elementary school. My mom let me read hers from way back in the 70s and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Then I read the Anne Frank Diary.

Soon after I began scrapbooking…

And finally, I started journaling online when one of my female friends showed me her blog. It was nice to never get to the end.

But it didn't stop there.

When I was in high school, the fad was having a LiveJournal. And I had at least 2. One was private and the other was not. I shared my most intimate thoughts and feelings with online friends that only a password could get you.

Then it was wedding planning …

And finally where I am now … somewhere between blogging and journaling.

One day I'll figure it out.

3. How many times a week do you post an entry?

5. It started as a challenge to myself. I thought it would help me become a better writer. It did get me more followers, but I wouldn't consider myself a better writer because of it.

4. How many different blogs do you read on a daily basis?

128.

Honestly I had never counted until just then. That number stresses me out.

I follow travel blogs, fashion blogs, financial blogs, cooking blogs, DIY/craft blogs, and photography/photographer's blogs. The travel blogs are the most important to stay up to date on because they offer to-the-minute deals on hotels and flights that I wouldn't otherwise know about. Effortless Anthropologie lets me know when my favorite clothing goes on sale. And the others … are just for fun. :)

5. Do you comment on other people's blogs?

Rule #455 in writing a blog is making sure to comment on others' blogs. Do I? Not so much. :(

During the upcoming April A-Z challenge I can guarantee you I will be commenting on at least 5 blogs a day. Stressful? Absolutely. But fun too. It's a good way to meet people.

One thing I try really hard to do is if someone comes to my blog and comments, I click over to see their blog and comment there too. It's only fair. :)

6. Do you keep track of how many visitors you have?

Yes.

I also know what country you are from, what operating system you use, and which browser you are checking from.

Scared yet? ;)

But seriously, if I don't keep track of the numbers, I don't get to host giveaways. That's all you read my blog for anyway, right? ;)

7. Do you ever regret a post that you wrote?

Absolutely.

There is a fine line between sharing and over-sharing. One of the author's of a blog I read commented that she felt comfortable sharing her own story but she was uncomfortable sharing others' stories. This really made me think: whose story am I sharing? Sometimes, someone else's story is also my story. But if I share too much of their personal information online without speaking with them first, how will they feel? Will they know? Will they care?

Honestly, blogging can be incredibly confusing. There are rules about picture usage, posting recipes, and in how you write reviews… It can be overwhelming and stressful when all you want to do is write!

I typically get Justin to read over my blog every single day. If he's uncomfortable with something I post, I edit or delete. Unfortunately (or fortunately) he rarely thinks there is a problem, even if my gut disagrees. Typically, I follow my heart in those cases. This is why, occasionally, you will see a blog post there one day and gone the next…

8. Do you think your readers have a true sense of who you are?

YES.

I am a big advocate for honesty, especially with regards to who I am and how I express myself. If you were to meet me in person, you would find that my values are in line with the things I say on the blog. While I do occasionally stretch the truth or not reveal a whole truth, it usually comes from me trying to protect someone's privacy.

9. Do you blog under your real name?

Actually…


10.  Are there topics you would never blog about?

I want to say yes, but I've blogged about at least one of those topics (as an answer to a question) very recently. In general I try to refrain from blogging about anything too personal. I love you, but sometimes it's simply none of your business…

11. What is the theme/topic of your blog?

I consider myself to be a lifestyle blogger.

Just think about all of the blogs I follow: travel, money, food, clothes, DIY/crafts…

It's all about living and, hopefully, living better.

However, if you were to form my blog into a book, I think, currently it would be a bildungsroman. I'd love to change it up, but there is something so therapeutic about writing that you can't always get from pure facts, lists, and/or DIY projects. My blog over the past few years has been about how I've grown and changed –the life lessons I've learned– interspersed with reviews and recommendations.

12. Do you have more than one blog? If so, why?

Not anymore. Except still.

13. What have you found to be the benefits of blogging?

Mostly that I am held accountable.

Getting to try new products, host giveaways, and meet new people…

And the therapeutic writing of course. :)

14. So, why do you continue to blog?

I wouldn't know what to do otherwise. :-/

Seriously, I love to write. Even beyond that, I love to take topics/ideas and transform them into something that fits me and my style. Heck, I even love to edit!

15. Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?

I'm hoping to gain more control over my blog within the next year. I've begun by creating topics I try to stick to throughout the week – Money Monday, Travel Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday, Throwback/Giveaway Thursday, Food/Fashion Friday. I don't always stick to them, but it's nice to have a concept I can fall back on. It lets me know what to write about, and you, the reader, only have to visit on days when I'm blogging about that thing that interests you the most. :)

Also, with regards to my writing and pictures, I'm hoping to improve.

So why do you blog? What is your writing background? Are you brave enough to tackle some of these questions on your own blog?

* The questions in this blog post come from StrawberrySingh.com
* Thanks to the SITS Girls for providing today's writing prompt!

Things to Do & See in Georgia A-Z Pt. 3

Over the past two weeks, I have been sharing a list of 26 things to do and see in Georgia according to the alphabet. You can check here to see the first 4 (A-D) and here to see the latest 3 (E-G). The majority of the locations I talk about can be found in the downtown Atlanta area; however, given that it can be difficult to find places for every letter of the alphabet (as I have attempted to do), some locations I list will be a short drive outside of the city.

I hope you are enjoying my list so far and getting fantastic ideas for places you would like to visit the next time you visit the peach state!


H. High Museum of Art (also known as the High)

Founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, the museum holds more than 14,000 works of art in its permanent collection, more than one-third of which were acquired since 1999. The collection includes 19th and 20th century American and European art, decorative art, modern and contemporary art, and photography with highlight artists including Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Claude Monet, Dorothea Lange, and Chuck Close. Frequently, special exhibits are held at the museum featuring works from other museums including the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Tickets to the museum cost around $20 per person unless you are a college student (student ID required). It may be worth looking into the cost of a membership if you intend on visiting the museum more than 3 times in a year or if you have 3 or more children. As with all museum memberships, a membership to the High Museum may qualify you for a tax deduction. Speak with a professional to find out more.


I. Imagine It! Children's Museum (now known as The Children's Museum of Atlanta)

One of the only children's-only museums in Atlanta, the 16,316 square foot museum features exhibits designed and geared toward young children. The permanent exhibits encourage children to think about their community, most especially with regards to the cultivation of food from farm to grocery store. Other opportunities provided for children include the opportunity to paint, build sand sculptures, and learn to use tools. At a cost of $12.75 per person (children and adults both), it may be a fun place to play for a day, but don't expect any amazing or entertaining adult activities. Bring a book or get involved in your child's creations.

As a sidenote, the one time I went to visit Imagine It! with a shy 3 year old, I was surprised at how pushy some of the older children (think 8-9 year olds) were. While this is definitely a fun location for younger children, I recommend going during the week when most other children are in school, so that you can enjoy all that the museum has to offer without worrying about tears.


J. Joel Chandler Harris House (aka The Wren's Nest or Snap Bean Farm)

Built in 1870, this house was the home of Joel Chandler Harris, author of the wildly popular and controversial Uncle Remus Tales as well as editor of the Atlanta Constitution.

Much like Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind, the Uncle Remus Tales are a collection of stories told by a former slave, Uncle Remus, during the reconstruction era after the Civil War. Disney eventually took on a few of the tales featuring main characters like Uncle Remus, Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox in Song of the South. The movie offered a unique combination of live action and animation and was released in 1946. The film won an Academy Award for Best Song in 1947 for "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" and was an inspiration for the Disney theme park attraction Splash Mountain. While the film received $3.3 million at the box office, it has also received a lot of critical attention for it's depiction of slavery. The NAACP said shortly following the opening of the film at the box office that "Song of the South [had] remarkable artistic merit in the music and in the combination of living actors and the cartoon technique. [...} However, in an effort neither to offend audiences in the north or south, the production helps to perpetuate a dangerously glorified picture of slavery. Making use of the beautiful Uncle Remus folklore, Song of the South unfortunately gives the impression of an idyllic master-slave relationship which is a distortion of facts." (see Wikipedia article here.)

While there is no denying that the Uncle Remus Tales are full of controversy, I think it is worth a visit to the Wren's Nest as a historic landmark. I've never been myself, but I hope to go some day…


K. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Located between Marietta and Kennesaw, Georgia, the name "Kennesaw" is derived from the Cherokee Indian meaning "cemetery" or "burial ground" and was designated as a U.S. Historic district on October 15, 1966 (Wikipedia). Best known for the Civil War battle that took place between June 19,  1864 until July 2, 1864, the park is 2,923 acres and provides walking trails, historic earthworks and includes three monuments representing the states who fought in this location.

Having never been to the park, I can't say whether or not it is worth a visit. The grounds look nice for a hike and the history may make this a unique experience for taking children. Plus, you can never go wrong with free admission! Just be certain not to take home any relics you may find in the park, because doing so is punishable by law.

So what do you think? Have you been to any of the places I've mentioned so far? Is there somewhere you think I should have included in my A-Z list? Share! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Shake it off! Shake it off!

image from here via Photopin

One of the best things about my job is that no matter what is going on in my life, the kids I watch are all about themselves and having fun. Drama and sadness have to be left at the door, which is generally a good policy to begin with. Inundating your family and friends with your negative emotions only brings down everyone.

Of course, in contradiction, blogging is quite the opposite. It's often looking inward at what I need to improve in my life in hopes that it will benefit others perhaps going through the same types of things. Unfortunately, when you are already sad, it's not always best to look inwards. Sometimes it's better to look outwards – distract yourself with tv, movies, books, sleep, any conversation that is about anything but the elephant in the room (or your head).

Dear friends, let me be straight. I am not a medical advisor, psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist. If you are seriously dealing with depression and you think you need help, please don't rely on distractions to help you get through whatever you are dealing with. Seek out real people and real help. I am only writing about my experience.

Anyway, the following, in accordance with 30 Lists, are the 4 things I need to shake off Taylor Swift style:
1. Being uninvited to a wedding. 
via text
Seriously! 
Who does that? 
You can be invited. You can be not invited. But uninvited?  
I don't understand. 
2. Rude, unappreciative family. 
I won't elaborate, but it has recently overwhelmed and stressed me out. 
3. Feeling trapped. 
via student loan debt. 
Should I have skipped out on college? Is there anything we can do to pay down our loans faster? 
4. Travel. 
Justin had been saving all of his vacation time for the wedding we were uninvited to. Now I don't know where to go or what to do. Getting away from everyone is looking better and better though…
While I am quite certain that in 5 years hence, this all will be water under the bridge, right now I'm finding these issues to be big and unwieldy. Maybe I can find the Taylor Swift within, jump around and shake it off. Or maybe I'll just sleep it off. It's hard to say.

Is there anything in your life that you just need to shake off?

* I'm participating in 30 Days of Lists (sort of). Are you?

Daydreaming About Music City

In T - 6 hours I will be in music city! Unfortunately, it will not be all play as we will be attending a wedding all weekend, but I'm excited none-the-less. It's been 4 years since my last visit and I'm looking forward to finding some new and exciting things to do while we are there. Any suggestions?

Meanwhile, yesterday's #30lists prompt was about favorite music from high school (that I would still happily listen to). I suppose it's more of a throwback than Friday fun, but good music always puts me in a pleasant mood. I can think of no better way to spend the morning just prior to the long drive we will be making (in about 1 hour) to Nashville.

1. Better Than Ezra – "Desperately Wanting"


2. Crazy Town – "Butterfly"


3. Edwin McCain – "I'll Be"


4. Jewel – "Intuition"


5. Goo Goo Dolls – "Iris"


6. Matchbox 20 - "3 A.M."


7. Lost Prophets – "Last Train Home"


8. AFI – "Silver and Cold"


9. Maroon 5 – "She Will Be Loved"


10. Linkin Park – "In the End"


Runner Up: Jet – "Cold Hard Bitch"

Can you guess what time period I was in high school from based on my music choices? What were some of your favorites in high school?

* I'm participating in 30 Days of Lists (sort of). Are you?

Throwback Thursday: Simple Things


A million and a half years ago, I was a volunteer at the public library, in charge of helping with the children's program, doing paperwork, shelving books in the children's section, and so much more. The best part of the gig was the free books I received: all of which were new and none of which I actually found time to read.

That particular summer, the majority of my friends were busy being … well, busy. Rather than sit around bored, I often found myself online chatting in a forum with a group of guys and girls who often threatened to throw kitchen utensils at one another. We had fun: we laughed and joked making fun of one another. Before I knew the time had even passed, an hour would go by … then two …

Right around my birthday that year, one of the guys from the group had the gumption to private message me and tell me he had a crush on me. It wasn't the first time a guy had announced his interest, but it was the first time a guy I had met online, who just so happened to live in the same state as me and was (not quite) twice my age had indicated interested. I'll be honest – I was appalled. And scared. First of all, how was I to know what kind of person he actually was? Then, to top it off, I was sincerely worried that the friendship would change into something uncomfortable. :( Needless to say, I was very upset when that conversation ended.

My birthday party was going to be held the next day. I had invited my clique of high school friends, only a few of which I was really close to. Slowly the party was falling apart though. One person backed out … then another.

This was not how I had envisioned my birthday celebration to go.

As I drove to the library that particular morning an unfamiliar song came on the radio: Amy Grant's "Simple Things". I was familiar with the sound of Amy Grant from the early 90s, but this new style? I wasn't sure if I liked it. As I listened to the lyrics though, I could relate to the desire of wanting to "believe in simple things". Within the next week, I had started a paper journal to document every single, simple moment that made me happy. Everything from what someone had offhandedly said to me, to a piece of mail I received unexpectedly, to a good grade on a test, or the beauty of a sunrise. Documenting these moments allowed me to realize that not only was I not alone in this world, but that I was loved and my life was good.

(By the way, the friendship with that guy did fall apart after his announcement, and all of the people that had backed out of coming to my birthday party came anyway. You win some, you lose some?)

While I haven't documented positive moments like that in years, I've decided that since I've had a *difficult* week, it couldn't hurt to do so again. Besides, it is one of my next prompts for The SIT's girls March blog challenge anyway. :)

The following are the 14 things that have made me happiest in the past 7 days (2 for each day):

Tr
• Having the free time to watch a movie before work.
• Hearing Meghan Traino's "All About That Base" for the first time on my Pandora playlist during my drive home in miserable, rainy traffic. It made me laugh. :)

Fr
• It was Friday, duh!
• Having dinner out with my in-laws and my sister-in-law's in-laws at a "rehearsal" dinner. (Is it still a rehearsal if the wedding is more of an elopement?)

Sa
• Taking all of the pictures at the wedding… (I like taking pictures.)
• Decorating a wedding cake for the bride at the last minute with florals from the grocery store. :)

Su
• My hair still looked good from Saturday's updo… (I love having pretty hair!)
• Buying a keyboard for Justin's ipad so that now it looks like a tiny computer. :)

Mo
• Finding out that a mystery shop I did would unexpectedly be accepted! Yay!
• DQ free cone day. (Because ice cream.)

Tu
• Having Chick-Fil-A for lunch! :) (I rarely eat out for lunch.)
• Beautiful weather! Too warm for a jacket, too cool to sweat.

Wed (2 extra for yesterday since I don't remember last Wednesday!)
• Finished The Bro Code. It was good, but not necessarily great.
• Got to make snow cones, play Monopoly, and watch The Flash with the kids I babysit. :)
• Received the perfect baby gift from Amazon for my new niece or nephew.
• Had lunch out with my mom. (Once again, a rarity.)

What "simple" things have made you happy over the past few days? Has there been a time in your life when you've been really down and out and a song helped to uplift your spirits?

* Thanks to the SITS Girls for providing today's writing prompt!

My Autobiography Highlights


• born in the 80s – Rainbow Brite, slinkies, Smurfs

• school in the 90s – Pokéman, Nintendo, Playstation, Beanie Babies, slap bracelets

• German, orchestra, art, chorus, psychology – friends (the best)

• senior year of high school – more friends, being crazy, having fun, skipping school

• scottie dogs and bulldogs – college

• various jobs and internships – getting burned multiple times, always trying again

• wedding – growing up

• Europe – biggest trip I've ever taken

• today – wrote this blog post

If you were to write a mini autobiography, what highlights would you include? What have been the pivotal moments in your life?

* I'm participating in 30 Days of Lists (sort of). Are you?

Things to Do & See in Georgia A-Z Pt. 2

Last week I began sharing the first four of 26 A-Z sights that visitors can enjoy when they travel to the peach state, for the first or twenty sixth time! The idea of putting together this list came to me when I recalled a project I did in 8th grade about my hometown. It was only spurred on by the fact that I'm running out of travel topics for "travel Tuesday" and the realization that where I live is as good a place as any to review for travel related excitement. Yay!

As I mentioned in part 1, I tried to keep my list limited to the Atlanta area and choose places that I have actually been before. Unfortunately, I haven't been to all of the tourist "traps" in Atlanta (or even those in Georgia) and, when thinking about locations in A-Z, I can only account for places I'm aware of and that fall into the A-Z latter category as needed.

Here are the next three letters in the alphabet:


E. Ebenezer Baptist Church

If you've ever been to any state in the southern US you are sure to remember seeing a large number of churches in your travels – more specifically baptist churches. They are all over the place usually one on every street corner situated between a mixture of Waffle Houses and Chick-Fil-As. The Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, however, holds special meaning to the city and to US history as it is where Martin Luther King Jr. and his father both preached. It is a pivotal location to the childhood behind the man whose legacy was left as an American civil rights leader.

While I've never been to the church, Wikipedia informs that the location is one of many memorials in the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic district in Atlanta. The district includes not only the church, but also the MLK gravesite and birthplace, the Fire Station No. 6, , the "I Have A Dream" International World Peace Rose Garden, and an International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.

I don't want to go into detail here on my blog, but, for those who don't know, Martin Luther King Jr. was a huge activist in the African-American Civil Rights Movement encouraging nonviolent civil disobedience. He fought segregation across the south and is most well-known for his "I Have a Dream" speech delivered during the 1963 March on Washington. He also received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, began the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, and spoke out against the Vietnam War in 1967. King was murdered in Memphis in 1968, but posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal along with being recognized, henceforth, in a day celebrating equality on Martin Luther King Jr. Day held on January 15th every year.

Obviously the church is just one of the many memorials we have to recognize a man who accomplished so much. It's a fantastic way to look back on his life and the changes that occurred in civil rights during his lifetime and beyond.


F. Fox Theatre

One of my absolute favorite locations in Atlanta is the Fox Theatre, a former "movie palace" and performing arts center that was originally planned as a Yaarab Shrine Temple prior to 1929. Funded by William Fox, the theatre opened a mere 2 months after the 1929 stock market crash which eventually led to an early bankruptcy. This wasn't the end of the turmoil the Fox would face in later years as a big telephone company in the 1970s offered to buy the property for demolition purposes hoping to rebuild on the centrally located property. Public outcry was enough to keep the theatre standing and it was listed as a national historic landmark in May of 1976.

Due to restoration efforts, the Fox now looks much as it did in 20s including additions that had to be scrapped due to financial constraints as well as changes that brought the building up to current safety codes. While the theatre now only hosts movie releases during the summer (and typically showing older movies at that), it is most well-known as a venue for weddings, banquets, and fundraisers as well as the top location in Atlanta to see performances including theatre, music, and dance. The gorgeous decor and high prices make attending this theatre a well-cherished event. It is possible to visit during the weekends however and just take a tour of the intricate facilities. If there is one place in Atlanta I recommend visiting above all others, this would be it. :)


G. Margaret Mitchell House – author of Gone With the Wind

If there is one author Atlantans are most familiar with it is Margaret Mitchell, the lady who put Southern beauty, large plantation houses, and a reminder of the devastation caused by the Civil War on the map via her love triangle and bildungsroman in the pulitzer prize winning novel Gone With the Wind.

The story opens up when 7 southern states, including Georgia, have seceded from the "union" and formed the separate Confederate States of America wherein slavery was accepted as legal. Scarlett O'Hara, the 16 year old daughter of a wealthy plantation owner has her eyes on Ashley Wilkes, a man soon to be engaged to, of all people, his cousin, Melanie Hamilton. Meanwhile, Rhett Butler attempts a pursuit of the hot-headed Scarlett knowing her feelings towards him aren't the most pleasant. However as time passes and as the war changes the people and landscape, the main characters are forced off of their expensive estates and into the city looking for work and money. Eventually Scarlett finds herself in the arms of Rhett Butler, one of the richest men in town and one of the most deviant as well. Their marriage is a difficult one though as they face the death or their one and only child.

Overall, Gone With the Wind is a complicated, dark drama that was eventually released to film in the 1930s with Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable taking on the lead roles. It provides a lot of insight into the Civil War years, the south's view on slavery at that time, as well as providing insight into the devastation caused by the war (as in burned property, lost money, etc…).

The Margaret Mitchell House is merely a museum of facts surrounding the writing of the novel and the life of this Georgia-born author. It also includes artifacts and memorabilia related to the making of the O'Selznick feature film.

Tickets cost $13 for adults. The museum also offers numerous events throughout the year to members of the museum and non-members alike.

I hope you are enjoying my look into Atlanta and the sights found within as well as learning a lot in the process. Be sure to share with me your ideas for places that I should include in my A-Z look at Georgia/Atlanta. If you've been here, where would you go? What would you recommend? I'd love to hear!

5 of the Worst Pieces of Advice I've Ever Received

Image from here & obtained via PhotoPin

As part of the 30 days of lists, today I will be sharing the worst advice I've ever received. Apparently not every piece of advice I've ever received has been good. To prevent you from falling into the same traps, I've compiled this short list. Perhaps it will serve as a reminder that not everyone knows what they are talking about. :)

1. Always use protection (when having sex).

We hear this so frequently from the time we are in grade school all the way through high school and college from parents and teachers alike. This piece of advice has hit very close to home in recent years as people I know have either 1) struggled to become pregnant after being on the pill for so long or 2) gotten pregnant accidentally while on the pill.

Truth: You can choose to have sex before marriage.
Truth: You can get pregnant before marriage.
Truth: You can get pregnant the first time you have sex.
False: The pill always works.
False: Condoms don't break.
Truth: Realize that by having sex (married or not), you can potentially procreate (whether you are using protection or not).

My dad always blamed the Italian family genes on my cousins getting pregnant before getting married. #GenesDontMatter

So basically, what I am saying is this: Don't have sex with someone unless you realize and understand all of the above. That's the #truth.

2. Clean your plate.

That, my friends, is how Americans joined the #fatclub and got diabetes. Or maybe the latter was due to the enormous amount of sugar in our foods? Hmm… Either way, only eat what you are hungry for. My sister-in-law once wrote out #BigTummiesFTW. Guess what? #Fail.

Sidenote: She's infuriatingly skinny and still eats all of the sugar. It's soooo not fair.

3. Go to college.

There is nothing I regret about going to college … except the student loans. :( Seriously. I went into college with the notion that I was there for good grades and pleasing my teacher; I came out of college with the realization that I needed to push myself and test my limits whether or not it pleased my teacher or got me good grades. College was about discovering myself, my limits, and having fun with my classes. Unfortunately, my job does not reflect any growth I may have gained during my college years. In fact, most people's don't. If you know what you are going to college for and it is very specific and important to your chosen career field, go. If not, it may be better to hold off. In the end a degree may only be a point of pride and financial burden rather than a measure of true success.

4. Play hard to get (when dating).

The end result? No one knows what is going on.

Be honest with your significant other. Don't try to make one another jealous. It's not cool. Besides, by not being upfront, you're probably ruining any chance you have with the other person anyway. Treat people like you would want to be treated and always assume that they have the best in mind for you. They may not, but by assuming they don't, you are also assuming they are a jerk. Would you really want to date a jerk? … Or be friends with one? … Or be in the same family as one?

5. Never get rid of "fat clothes".

Argh. That bothers me so much.

It's this assumption we have that the older you get, the fatter you get.

Truth: I was 10 lbs heavier in high school than I am now.

While I don't feel that I was ever truly large, that number does make a huge difference on a petite figure. I went from buying a size 5 in jeans to a size 0. (Of course some of that may be vanity sizing…) Either way, you are not guaranteed to gain the "freshman five" or the "newlywed nine". For that matter, does it even matter if you do (aside from health reasons, of course)? In five or ten years, those clothes that are in style now will be out of style by then… so you'll end up replacing them anyway. Besides, who needs incentive to gain weight? Isn't it more painful to have to go shopping for new, more expensive clothing after gaining weight than to merely lose the weight and fit into the clothes you are already loving and wearing? #justsaying

While I'm sure I could continue to go on and on with bad advice I've received over the years, these were just the first ones that came to mind.

Have you ever been given bad advice? Any of the ones I mentioned above? Have you ever given bad advice? Share! I'd love to hear what your list might consist of!

* I'm participating in 30 Days of Lists (sort of). Are you?

Mid-March Review of My 2015 Goals

Image from here (sourced from Photopin)

March has been very fast paced for me so far. We're already on day 13 and it barely feels like the month has just begun!

I never got the chance to review my goals in February, so the following is a mid-March update … mostly a reminder for me to stay on track and help me feel good about what (little) I've accomplished so far.

1. Read More

January
the After series by Anna Todd
A Lion In Paris by Beatrice Alemagna
I Sold My Soul to the Devil For Vinyls … Pitiful, I Know on Wattpad
• Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
• Refinery 29 by Piere Gelardi and Christene Barberich
Frites by Anne de la Forest

February
Summer Rain on Wattpad
Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer
How to Travel the World on $50 A Day by Matt Kepnes
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

March
No Capes on Wattpad

In the process of reading…
The Bro Code on Wattpad
He Wanted the Moon by Mimi Baird
• Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson

Definitely keeping up, but struggling. I've found the combination of wattpad stories and easy reads to be making this goal that much easier. I always have my phone on me and I can read at night in bed with it. Plus, I get so distracted so easily that it's nice returning to books/stories that don't require much thought. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing though…

2. Take More Pictures, Edit More

Let's just not.

The extent of my picture-taking has been on my phone. (Aside from the images I captured of goodies for Valentine's Day.)

We won't even begin to talk about how I missed this year's CreativeLive Photoshop Week.

Perhaps I should have been more specific with this goal? It just wears me down creatively to push myself and not achieve the results I want. *shrugs*

3. Pay off Debt.

You might already be following this goal when I share our struggles and successes the first Monday after Justin's payday every month, but in case you don't, we're working on it.

I didn't have it written down, but I did want to sell one item on ebay (or poshmark or somewhere) every month for the year. That happened in January but we haven't sold anything since. :(

Also, I thought I had more work and a new job in January, but since that time, not much has come of it. :( I gave up my dad's birthday weekend to get work done and I have yet to see a paycheck. This is incredibly disappointing.

The good news: I've been accepted into a lot of research studies recently that have paid upwards of $100 per study. I've gotten to try hair care products, toilet cleaner, candy, dish washing detergent, talk about alcohol and restaurants, etc, etc… It's been a lot of fun. Plus, it's almost like "free money" to help me pay down student loans. #WIN!

Now if only my lucky streak can continue…

3. Travel More.

Done.

Just completely stressed myself out attempting to book a place in Nashville for a wedding later this month. Argh.

And now we're trying to determine whether or not to spend 2 weeks in Europe or 3.  Use all of the vacation time or just some?

Unfortunately when I said I wanted to travel more, I didn't exactly mean use all of the vacation time at once in Europe. I actually wanted more little trips around the US. Oh well. Your best friend only ever gets married once.

4. Health

Does that include pigging out on girl scout cookies when your in-laws stress you out?

Justin and I did attempt to find a gym out near us until we realized there is exactly one. Unfortunately, the $30 price tag per person per month conflicts with paying off debt. In my mind, I'd have to work out at least 30 days in a month to make that price even somewhat worthwhile, and with all of the travel and craziness we've been dealing with, 30 days a month simply isn't going to happen.

Alternatively Justin and I could go for walks more often … or go biking … or I could do those stupid, dreaded at home workouts. :( My preference would be strength-training rather than cardio. I don't care how fast I am, but it would be nice to be stronger. Then again, who needs a gym when you have a five pound camera? Two and I'll be in business! Right, Justin? ;) (Especially if it's a canon 5d mkIII. #justsaying.)

With regards to food, we haven't been doing much better. My in-house chef is currently sick so we've been eating more freezer foods and restaurant meals. Organic and natural ftw, right? Plus, you don't even want to know about my stock of girl scout cookies and how fast I'm going through them.

I'm serious.

And as far as my mental health goes? I get crazier by the day… I'm sure you see that in my blog writing. ;)

How are your goals for 2015 coming along? Are you keeping up? Or have you given up? Do you have any in common with me?

Madonna Rebel Heart Review


Aside from having seen The Next Best Thing and hearing all of her hit songs from the 1980s, I wasn't incredibly familiar with Madonna before agreeing to review her newest album Rebel Heart.

Released on March 10th,  this is her 13th studio album which explores two very different sides of Madonna's personality – the rebellious, renegade side of her and the romantic side of her. After a few songs were leaked online in December 2014, Madonna took charge pre-releasing the first six songs from the album in a marketing move that has had her topping iTunes charts and trending on twitter ever since. The new album features collaborations with many well-known pop artists including Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Nas, Chance the Rapper and Mike Tyson.

The album starts out strong with "Living For Love" a song that reached the number one spot on Hot Dance Club Songs, tying Madonna with George Strait for an act with the most number one spot on any Billboard Chart. Originally written as a break-up song, it was tweaked and finally released as an uplifting and inspirational song implying that break-ups aren't the end all be all they are made out to be.

Following closely on the heels, I also enjoyed her song "Devil's Play" which is very reminiscent of her 80s hits with lyrics such as "teach me how to pray" and singing about Mother Mary. Now why she is singing about drinking, doing acid, smoking weed, etc… I have no idea. Trying to be hardcore without succeeding? Possibly. Madonna, you aren't 20-something anymore. The beats and music are fun though.

She loses me in the middle of the album, but this is unsurprising since I'm not a huge fan of Nicki Minaj. Her album takes a turn for the worst, cussing for the sake of cussing, and lots of building herself up. (Because clearly, Madonna has to prove her self worth!)

I did enjoy the quiet ballad "Joan of Arc" in which Madonna claims she is "just human" rather than a superhero.

Then she loses me again with "Iconic".

*shrugs*

Overall, I have a love/hate relationship with Rebel Heart. Having had limited experience listening to Madonna's music, I got tired of this album pretty quickly. However, the same lack of variation I am complaining about might be exactly what Madonna was going for in an effort to provide a combination of older sounds with newer styles of music that will appeal to old and new fans alike.

Have you had the chance to listen to Madonna's newest album yet? What do you think of it? Are you a fan of her newest single "Living for Love"?

Buy the album here.

To find out more about Madonna, check out her website or follow her on twitter or instagram.

*I participated in the Madonna Rebel Heart album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.

10 Pieces of Unsolicited Relationship Advice

image from here

In China, 2015 is the year of the goat…

In my life, however, 2015 seems to be the year of marriage. So far on the list, we will be celebrating the marriage of: my sister-in-law, my husband's cousin, and two friends of mine (who are not marrying one another, by the way!), Given that yesterday was mine and my husband's third wedding anniversary and that we have been "together" for 10.5 years, I have decided to provide some unsolicited advice to those getting married on relationships. The following are ten things I wish I had known about marriage and relationships ten and a half years ago…

1. Don't trust your gut.

Everyone will tell you that "you'll just know" when you meet that one perfect person … or, in the case of those getting married, finding the "perfect" dress.

No. Just no.

In the past I've put a lot of time and thought into this – and nearly everything I do – and I emerged with the realization that there is no perfect person (or dress). Truth be told, there is a person you may end up with or a dress you may buy, but who knows if you will still get along with that person in 10 years or if that dress is timeless? You are in control of your destiny and your choices, not your gut.

2. Speaking of which, let me repeat: YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR DESTINY.

About two years into our relationship, Justin took me aside and said something along the lines of "I simply don't think this [relationship] is going to work." Of course, he shared his reasons and it was a very eye-opening confrontation. Then do you know what I said?



"Do you want it to work?"

It was truly a life-changing moment for me: the realization that no relationship stands a chance if both people don't want for it to work.

While at that particular moment in our lives it seemed like everything and everyone was against us, we made the decision to stick it out through the good and the bad. Our relationship has been all the better because of that. However, if you are with someone who doesn't want to be with you, realize that you can't change them. You can control how you respond to them and whatever they throw at you, but you can't make them be someone they are not.

3. Another repeat: YOU CAN'T CHANGE SOMEONE.

Justin and I faced a number of issues dating. I can't provide examples of how I changed during the past 10.5 years, but my husband went from being protestant to catholic, able to tell me anything … to keeping secrets from me. These were not small changes in my world and they threw me into bouts of depression. Could we work out? I spent the entire relationship believing that whatever *bad* changes Justin went through were directly related to who he was and who he would forever be.

I was wrong, thankfully since in time, he realized the error of (some of) his ways.

I cannot guarantee that your relationship will be the same though. It's possible that the person you are with is being honest and upfront with you about who they are and their life goals. If you aren't listening or taking that seriously, you may be in for a shock.

4. Be honest with yourself and your significant other. ALWAYS.

Do you remember the story of Elas in Frozen? What if she had come forward and told her sister her very scary secret sooner? Would she then have realized that love is the cure-all? Would Anna have trusted Elsa with regards to her love interest?

Granted these sisters are not one another's significant others, but I think it definitely shows how life altering a secret can be when kept from your loved ones. I think the biggest question I have is: If you can't be honest with your loved ones, who can you be honest with?

5. Learn when to speak.

Upon first meeting you probably wouldn't think too much of me. If I don't know you very well, I'm likely to not say much at all. However, after knowing me for a while, there's not a whole lot I don't say. In fact, that's one of my main flaws: I often say too much. I'm too honest and too open with too many people.

While there is nothing wrong with being open and honest with others, when you are in a relationship (any type! whether familial, friendly, or loving) you need to learn what to say to whom when. If you say the wrong thing (for example sharing your significant others' news), you run the risk of hurting feelings or upsetting someone, perhaps unintentionally.

More often than that though, early in my relationship, I found myself getting bad advice from the wrong people – people who didn't care about the relationship, who were jealous and providing negative opinions on the matter.

6. Make sure to speak.

At some point I began to realize that calling other people and talking about my significant other behind his back was a bad idea whether or not I felt I needed advice. This is when I started calling him directly stating my feelings and indicated that I did not want to talk about him behind his back but that that was exactly what I would do if he didn't talk to me. Nine times out of ten, he stopped what he was doing and took the time to console me.

If you try to hold things in or you begin to speak with the wrong people (i.e. not your significant other), you will more than likely find yourself pulling away from the relationship. Talk with one another and be honest always.

7. Recognize when your s/o is having a bad day.

If my first fatal flaw is talking too much to the wrong people at the wrong time about the wrong things, my second fatal flaw would be my inability to empathize. Rather than acknowledging that Justin has had a rough day or is sick or tired, I take the things he says to heart, especially if he's yelling at me … or, the opposite, super quiet. I always assume that the problem is me and something I did rather than a result of circumstances. Since knowing me, Justin has had to acknowledge that this flaw of mine is unchangeable and he has had to learn to work with it, beyond merely stating the obvious, to learning to be patient, calm, and collected no matter what the day brings. Kudos to him.

Either way, you will be much better off if you understand how circumstances are effecting your significant other and what you can do to change them or make them better. I'm sure s/he will appreciate that as well.

8. Realize that you have value.

When your significant other irrationally yells at you, call him/her out on it. Be confident.

While you may recognize and empathize with your love, you don't have to put up with their negative actions towards you. There is never an excuse for them to hit you … and rarely an excuse for them to yell at you.

You are worthy, you are special, and you have value. Always remember that. :)

 If you can't be confident in your relationship, then maybe this person isn't the one for you…

9. Your relationship should encourage you to be a better person.

If your significant other is encouraging you to do things you consider to be wrong, don't do them. You shouldn't have to steal or lie or … anything like that to receive love or be worthy of love. Remember how you have value?

And even if you aren't facing something terrible like the above in your relationship, you should still be challenging and encouraging your significant other into being a better person. While no one is perfect and you can't change the person you are with, it is healthy to grow and develop together. Just be sure that you accept the challenges and encouragement you receive from your significant other as well.

10. Finally, most importantly, realize that you are the only one who can make yourself happy.

Don't rely on anyone else to do that for you. You are in complete control of how you handle and respond to each and every situation.

So what do you think? is there any vital piece of relationship advice I missed? What advice would you share with a newly engaged couple?

* Blog topic taken from 30 Days of Lists

Things to Do & See in Georgia A-Z Pt. 1

Today I decided to tackle something near and dear to my heart: a list of things to do and see in Georgia from A-Zzzzzz. ;) Not really. I hope you don't fall asleep anyway! :)

Way back in middle school, specifically 8th grade, I remember being required to create a booklet on Georgia history using the same method of creating topics A-Z. It was really fun. I had over a month to do it, and I remember getting family to pick up brochures nearly everywhere they would go just so that I would have a topic to cover for all the letters of the alphabet. Unfortunately I no longer have that project to refer to, and who knows how much would have changed since that time! But I still thought it would be fun to create an A-Z list for those interested in visiting Georgia in the future of things to do. I tried to stick to things specifically in the Atlanta vicinity that I have actually done, but, to be honest, I haven't done everything in the Atlanta area and I had a hard time finding things that fit all of the letters in just the one spot.

Nevertheless, here you go. This is my list of Georgia A-Z. :) I will be splitting it up over the course of the next few weeks so that you don't get overwhelmed with all that is Atlanta. :)


A. Georgia Aquarium

From what I understand, the Georgia Aquarium is one of the largest in the southern US housing over 100,000 animals from 500 species. Opening in November 2005, the aquarium had over 1 million visitors during it's first month and has had more than 10 millions visitors since! Whale sharks are the aquariums most famous specimens followed by hammerhead sharks, beluga whales, and manta rays that you can touch!

While a visit to the aquarium is costly at $36 per person, you can go on your birthday for free with a valid picture ID. The aquarium also offers many exclusive opportunities such as behind the scenes tours where you can pet the animals and swim with them. I recommend going during the week and getting there early, because, despite the high cost, the aquarium can get crowded quickly … and when it does it can make it hard to see the animals and enjoy your visit.


B. Botanical Gardens

Thirty acres of gardens located just outside of Piedmont Park were incorporated in 1976 to "develop and maintain plant collections for the purposes of display, education, conservation, research, and enjoyment" (ABG website). Having grown and developed quite a bit in the time since, the gardens offer special art exhibits throughout the year to attract visitors and guests, as well as classes and a holiday light show during the Christmas season.

Tickets cost $19 per person which does not include parking that costs a maximum of $15.


C. Centennial Olympic Park

Located in central downtown, the popular park was built in anticipation of the 1996 olympics. It is best known for the Fountain of Rings "which features computer-controlled lights and jets of water synchronized with music played from speakers in light towers surrounding the fountain" (Wikipedia). Every summer kids can be found playing in the 251 fountain jets that shoot water 12-35 feet in the air. Other activities in the park include a summer concert series and an annual July 4th firework display.

There is no cost to get in (unless there is a special event).


D. Delta Flight Museum

Housed in 2 1940s-era Delta Airline Maintenance hangars which were used until the 1960s, the museum is nonprofit and relies on volunteers, donations, and special event rallies. The museum officially opened in June 2014, which, prior to that, you were required to have a Delta employee ID to go see. The museum features a number of historic, restored airplanes found and discovered by Delta airlines.

The museum is free to visit, however they encourage you to check their calendar to be sure no private events are being held on the day you want to visit. While I haven't been to the museum since it opened to the general public, past experience has shown that it may not be the most interesting of museums to visit for children or anybody who isn't necessarily a huge fan of Delta.

I hope you enjoyed the beginning of my A-Z series on things to do in Georgia. I'll post the next set on Tuesday, March 17th!

Have you visited any of the above places? Do you have recommendations for my A-Z list? Share! I'd love to hear them!