Outdoor Movie Night

outdoor movie night

We have been thoroughly enjoying the outdoor space in our new home, and our most favorite activity to date was our outdoor movie night. We threw this party at the end of October, when it was still getting dark at 7pm and we hadn’t yet had a hard frost. Under the guise of Shawn’s Birthday/Housewarming/Why The Heck Not, we invited a few friends over for food, fire, and an outdoor showing of Hocus Pocus. (It was the weekend before Halloween, after all. I put a spell on you!)

We borrowed a tarp/white sheet screen from a friend, along with a moveable fire pit and a few crockpots. Actually, we borrowed the projector, the speakers, and the movie as well. I even used some leftover decorations from an event the week before at my work! (Thanks to everyone who lent us stuff!) I made a few different kinds of chili and some hot apple cider and lined up crockpots under lamps on a table outside. We used a lot of extension cords. We grilled hot dogs and roasted marshmallows and enjoyed pumpkin beer around the fire. We asked the guests to bring their own lawn chair/blankets, and everyone curled up to enjoy the movie. We managed to have perfect weather– cool enough to cuddle, but no one got frostbite– and there were no bugs! We had a great time, and we are already looking forward to doing it next year!

One Day 2013 {#onedayhh}

My dad told me that he loved this post when I did it last year, so here I am again! A Day in the Life of Me.

morning light 3I still can’t get over the morning light in our home.

another pic of mowgliMowgli likes the light too.

walking the dog

This was the first morning I had to wear mittens during our walk.

work collageScenes from the youth center: collection for Operation Christmas Child // decaf coffee with hot chocolate mix // our messy full calendar of events

hunger signAnd we made signs in preparation for The Walk for Hunger and Homeless next week.

shawn grilled cheeseI came home to this: grilled cheese, the episodes of New Girl we missed, and an early bedtime.

I’m linking up with Laura at The Hollywood Housewife here!

An Amateur’s Take on Cruising

Our cruise to the Bahamas was our first cruise ever. We had a very enjoyable time, but I don’t think cruises will be our number one vacation choice. Here are a few things we loved, a few things we could do without, and a few tips that we’ll make sure we do next time.

bahamas carnival pride

We loved…

… that we didn’t have to cook or clean. And they had turn-down service with mints on your pillows! I don’t stay at fancy places like that very often.

… our balcony. We chose Carnival because the balcony rooms were such a deal, and we spent a good amount of time out there reading, drinking our morning coffee, or watching for dolphins.

… that we didn’t have to fly anywhere. We live an hour and a half from Baltimore, so our travel time to the ship was pretty minimal. We both enjoy flying, but we were able to save some major bucks by choosing a port close to us.

We could do without…

… the smoking. Smoking was still allowed in the casino and outside in specific areas. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was certainly noticeable.

… the busy port cities. We opted out of the excursions offered by the cruise line, so we disembarked at each destination and made our own way around town. Each port in the Bahamas felt pretty touristy, and we are more off-the-beaten-path kind of travelers.

… the “boozin and cruisin” vibe. Carnival’s slogan is “The Fun Ship”, and this certainly seemed to be the case. People seemed to love it, but its not really our thing.

Next time, we’ll know…

… that each passenger can bring one bottle of wine on board. Save some money!

… that people really do dress up on “elegant” evenings. We sneaked by in cocktail attire, but there were a lot of ties and evening dresses.

… that the excursions aren’t actually marked up. We assumed that it would be cheaper to pay for our own excursion in port, instead of booking through the cruise line, but most places seem to be asking the same price as what we were offered on the boat.

Have you done a cruise? What did you love? What could you do without?

Cruising The Bahamas

What better way to celebrate your 30th birthday than a seven-day cruise to the Bahamas?

bahamas nassau

Shawn and I had never done a cruise before, but when the tickets went on sale this past summer (after that infamous Discovery incident), we decided that we should jump on the opportunity to go! Shawn traveled to the outer islands in the Bahamas a lot growing up, but he had never visited Nassau.

bahamas beach

So away we went. We drove down to Baltimore on a blustery fall morning, stood in line for an hour or so, and then soon enough our cruise was underway. We spent the first two days at sea, followed by a day in Port Canaveral, Florida, and then a day in Nassau, Bahamas and a day in Freeport, Bahamas. We spent our last day at sea on our way back to Baltimore.

atlantis fish

bahamas fish

freeport bahamas

I’ll share some of the specifics about what we liked and didn’t like tomorrow, but I’ll say for now: It was a great vacation and we have a wonderful time. But we probably won’t choose a cruise over a different style of vacation for a while.

Have you ever done a cruise? Would you recommend one?

I’m baaaack!

Let me explain:

I had every intention of finishing 31 Days in the Open Air. I only had four days left! But as we neared the departure time for our vacation, other things took precedence over writing and scheduling blog posts (things like: searching for my lost passport, packing, and throwing a party). And then once we were on our cruise, wifi cost a whopping $0.75 a minute. And it was incredibly slow. I figured I would store up some great posts and share them when we returned… only to discover, once we got home, that the internet at our apartment wasn’t working. We finally got it up and running last night.

So, here I am. Two weeks late, but I do have some great stuff to share! Our regularly scheduled programming will commence on Monday.

Please enjoy this picture of Mowgli with his new haircut and have a great weekend!

mowgli

Fall Foliage Report {31 days}

photo (4)

A friend showed me this amazing piece of information this week. The Pennsylvania State Park website has a Fall Foliage Report with a week by week map of the best places to see fall colors. I love it. I know some places farther north have already hit their peak, but if you want to see some pretty leaves this weekend, check out your local state website!

Inside Chores {31 days}

Somedays you have to spend a lot of time inside to make the outside adventures happen. This is one of those days.

I lost my passport– the one I had just renewed under my my married name– and turned the house upside down looking for it. I found it last night in my desk drawer.

I wandered around Walmart today for an hour. Walmart makes me feel like a Zombie.

I am currently on my third load of laundry.

Basically, the only significant time I’ve spent outdoors today was letting the dog out and hauling groceries to and from my car.

All the prepping and planning and “behind the scenes” stuff is not glamorous and is usually exhausting. But it is totally worth it when I have an outdoor movie night and a week-long vacation to look forward to!

But first… a dance/costume party at the youth center. Oh boy.

Happy Friday to you and yours!

Debriefing the Challenge Course: Fear {31 days}

I spent this past Saturday with a middle school youth group outside on the challenge course. We ran the static course, which is the highest part of our ropes course and requires the students to transfer themselves along the course. This means that there are a few points where, if the students don’t follow very specific instructions, they could be in trouble.

And they are 40 feet off the ground. Which always leads us to a conversation about fear.

ropes course 1

We were created with a sense of fear, and that can be a really, really good thing. Afraid of fire? Good, it can burn you. Afraid of swimming out too far in the ocean? Good, you can drown. Afraid of climbing up on little pole 40 feet in the air? Good, you could fall and die. A healthy sense of fear is really important to keeping us safe and alive.

But fear can become a negative influence when it keeps us from taking risks that can help us learn and grow. The ropes course challenges this sense of fear because yes, 40 feet in the air is high and dangerous. But, when done correctly, climbing the ropes course (while clipped into a harness and a belayer) is done in a way that maximizes safety. It is the perfect place to test the ways in which your fears can limit you– and ways in which you can overcome them.

This particular Saturday, I volunteered to traverse the course when we set it up (it’s a state requirement that a staff person do this before any participants do). I was solely responsible for my safety: I harnessed myself, clipped myself in, and navigated my way around the course. I had to trust my head knowledge and my physical ability to do things correctly to ensure that I was safe. I was terrified, but I did it successfully. What if I applied this same self-assurance and bravery to my days off the ropes course? Would I be able to overcome some of my fears that are holding me back in my day-to-day life?

As we were cleaning up late that afternoon, I lost a rope through a pulley and had to climb back up to the top of the course and rethread the rope. And I had to learn this lesson about fear all over again. And each time I relearn it, I hope I get a little bit better at it.