Out and About – Bremen, Ga

I recently visited a new Farmer’s Market in my area: the Sewell Mill Community and Farmer’s Market in Bremen, Ga.  There were several interesting vendors, and I enjoyed looking around, but honestly, I was much more interested in the old part of downtown Bremen where the market was located.  I love small towns – they just have so much character, and often the oldest structures are the ones that catch my eye.  

I often catch myself saying how glad I am that we live so close to Atlanta so that I can get to town for shopping and entertainment, and sometimes I forget how many lovely things there are just down the road.  The Farmer’s Market communities are so friendly and, especially this time of year, there is so much color and liveliness there.  Enjoy the view!



5 Tips for How to Be a Spectator and Still Have Fun

I bet you’re wondering where I’m going with this.  I mean, we’ve all been spectators at some point in our lives – and I mean the kind of spectate-ing where you’re watching a friend or family member perform, compete, exhibit, or otherwise publically make use of a skill set or talent that you do not possess and most likely wouldn’t even know about if said loved one didn’t inspire your interest.  For instance:  I love college football games.  As in Love.  If I had a friend or family member playing for my team, and they requested that I come out to support them, I wouldn’t even have to change my plans because I’d probably already be there anyway.  But it’s a little different when your loved one has a passion for something that, while you can appreciate their enjoyment, you don’t necessarily want to join the team yourself. 

I’ve mentioned my husband’s hobby to you before – he has a real passion for going fast, more specifically on motorcycles.   He participates in motorcycle Track Days, which are sponsored by various groups, such as NESBA or STT.  In short, the race tracks that are uber-appealing to motorcycle riders (Road Atlanta, Barber Motorsports Park, etc) are available to be rented out for weekends when they aren’t hosting races or events, but the prices are so high that it wouldn’t be practical for an individual.  So the riding organizations rent the tracks and then sell riding privileges at prices that are much more accessible to the masses.  It’s actually a really great environment for the riders – they get to talk shop all weekend with like-minded enthusiasts, and they get to ride really fast in a safe situation. 

Jacob is totally in his element at track days – he loves to ride, and he’s really good at it.  Me, not so much.  I’m an excellent passenger, and I love to ride with him (at a more sedate pace, of course), but at track days, I don’t really have a role.  I can help unpack the trailer and set up our canopy and such, but besides that there’s not much for me to do unless I want to get on a bike myself.  And it’s not the most spectator friendly sport – the tracks are made to be like a winding road, so they go through wooded areas, up and down hills, under bridges… If there is a viewing area, you may see the riders coming for a moment, and then zoom they’re gone.  After we had attended a couple of track days and I got over the excitement of seeing something brand new, I started to get a little, well, bored.  I really love to see Jacob having so much fun, and I love that he wants to share this experience with me, but it doesn’t change the fact that while he’s out there riding, I’m just standing around watching him whoosh by once every two minutes or so.  After nearly three years of attending track days, I realized that I sort of made my own role so that I could be there to support Jacob, and at the same time stay interested and engaged in the activity. 

I would guess that a fair number of you have friends or loved ones with a hobby that you don’t, or can’t, share a passion for. And it can be hard to show enthusiasm when you’re just not having as much fun as someone else.  I’ve made a list of a few tips that helped me in just that situation, and I’m passing them on the hopes that some of you may be able to find a little more enjoyment in being a spectator.

  1. Get involved!  What do you love to do?  Is there some way that you can incorporate your hobby into your loved one’s activity?  I love photography, so I started bringing my camera along to the race track, and now I look forward to track days almost as much as Jacob does.  I was able to learn a whole new style of taking pictures – there’s nothing like trying to get a perfectly sharp photo of someone who is zooming by you at 150mph to make you really good at sports photography.  But maybe you love to cook, and you could provide snacks; or you’re a born leader and have some ideas for improving the event.  Join the group or committee that runs the event and give yourself a reason to be invested in the activity.   You’ll find that both you and your loved one will enjoy it more if you’re enthusiastic about being involved.
  2. Bring a friend.  I had so much fun at the first track day we attended, but after the new wore off, my interest started to wane.  When we had friends join us for a weekend, I was able to show them the ropes and explain things, and it was a lot of fun watching someone else experience it all for the first time.  And it never hurts to have someone around to talk to in a slow moment.
  3. Socialize.  This one is kind of hard for me to do, since I sometimes feel out of place, but it’s always rewarding when I make the effort.  You’re probably not the only spectator there, so talk to the person next to you.  Chances are, they’ve had similar feelings if they’ve been watching the same thing you have, and they may welcome a conversation to relieve their own boredom.  And if they’re not bored, then you definitely need to talk to them, because enthusiasm is contagious
  4. Do some research.  Take some time to learn a little bit about the sport or activity that you’ll be attending.  If you don’t know the rules it’s hard to follow the action, but also, just knowing some background information can help you become involved in the conversations around you.  I’m fairly knowledgeable about motorcycles at this point, because Jacob is so into them and I like to talk to him about it.  So when we’re at the track and I’m standing there with five or six riders all going on about their steering dampeners, or their rear suspension, or the particular tire compound they’re running that day I can at least follow the conversation, and even join in occasionally.
  5. Make an effort.  This one is really important.  And it may be the hardest thing to do.  I know how hard it is to try to be enthusiastic about something that you could care less about – but that’s the thing isn’t it?  You clearly do care about your friend or family member that you’ve gone out the support, or you wouldn’t be there in the first place.  But it takes real effort to find some enjoyment for yourself in the midst of being supportive.  You have to look for a way to involve yourself.  You have to entertain that friend that you invite along.  You have to be friendly and sociable to strike up a conversation with a stranger, and you may have to step outside of your comfort zone to engage a stranger in conversation in the first place.   But that small effort may open up a new door for you – you may find a new hobby for yourself, or make a new friend, or reconnect with an old one.  If nothing else, you’ll probably learn something new, and you may even find an interest where you didn’t know you had one.

The fact is, a good attitude can go a long way.  If you open your mind to the possibility of a good time you’ll be much more likely to find one.  So try to keep a positive attitude, dear readers, and if all else fails, bring a good book and a [insert beverage of choice] and you’ll be just fine.

Cotton Mill Farmer’s Market


Hooray for Farmer’s Markets!  Last year my parents joined the Cotton Mill Farmer’s Market in Carrollton, Ga as a way to get their products out to more people, and I must say that I love going out to say hello so I can browse all the lovely (local!) produce.  It’s not a huge Market, but all the major food groups are represented: meats, dairy, fruits and veggies, and greens.  There are some great people involved who really love their crafts, and it makes for a fun shopping experience when the farmer is clearly dying to tell you all about their products and methods.  Buying local isn’t something that’s for everyone – sometimes it’s just not practical.  The prices are higher than most conventional grocery stores; most Markets are open only one or two days a week, limiting your ability to get groceries at the drop of a hat; selection is limited to what’s in season, and there aren’t many exotic items (tahini in Georgia? I think not). But there are many advantages, chief of which is that the quality of the products is generally much higher.  Because the produce isn’t being hauled from the other side of the continent, it’s usually perfectly ripe and ready to eat – and usually naturally grown or organic.  Also, buying from local farmers and artisans is a great way to put money back into your community.  I’ll be honest here – I buy the majority of my groceries from Publix, but during the spring and summer I try to get as much of my produce as I can from the local producers.  I like knowing that my food was grown less than an hour from where I live, and I like that it’s been grown by folks who have a love for farming.  Because more people are becoming concerned about the quality of the food we eat, more and more Farmer’s Markets are popping up in cities and towns all across the country, and if you’ve never been to one, I encourage you to check one out.  If nothing else, you’ll probably find a friendly farmer ready to talk your ear off about something.

Road Atlanta

Ohmygoodness, readers, I may be in love.   I picked up this bad boy on Friday, and I’m not going to want to say goodbye.   I used Aperturent.com to arrange my date; I picked up  my new companion for a weekend away, and we had the best time.  OK, fine.  I’ll just explain so you don’t have to follow all my links (although I encourage you to check them out, since I did have such a good experience).   I’ve mentioned once before my husband’s um, shall we say fast paced?, hobby – he’s into the really fast motorcycles.   The good thing is that there is a safe outlet for that – because, trust me when I say you do not want anyone you care for to go that fast (Jacob’s top speed this weekend was 175 mph!) on the road.   There are several organizations, such as NESBA and STT, that sponsor track days around the country so the speed demons among us can indulge their need for speed safely (well, saf-er, anyway).

What does this have to do with my date this weekend?  Well, most of the tracks are surrounded by fences, railings, barricades, etc to keep spectators off the tracks, and the riders in.  And they’re road racing tracks, so they’re set up like a curvy road through woods, fields, etc.  It’s hard to get close enough (safely) to take any decent photos.  The track at Road Atlanta, where we were this weekend, is 2.54 miles long, but it’s set up very conveniently for spectators and, ahem, amateur photographers.  There are roads all around the track perimeter and the infield so I could drive from one vantage point to another pretty quickly, but you still can’t get very close in most cases.  My 24-70mm lens just wasn’t long enough to let me get very many good, dramatic shots.  And thus, my date:  I rented a Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS lens, and it was awesome.    I was able to see far enough down the track to tell when my husband was coming so that I could set up and track his movements with the camera to get some really great action shots.   And the lens was long enough to enable me to photograph from places that would have been too far for my 24-70mm to even make out who I was shooting.   I really enjoyed being able to join in the track day fun – I don’t ride myself, so I’m usually along for the ride when we go, and it was really nice to have something interesting to occupy me while Jacob was out doing his thing.  Do let me know what you think of these photos; you can find the whole set here on flickr, and I’d love some feedback.

High speed sports like this aren’t the easiest thing in the world to shoot – I took 693 photos over two days; of those I kept 477, and of those I only chose 78 to edit and make into a collection.  Trial and error, good equipment, practice, and a good amount of luck played a big part in getting any decent shots, and I thought I’d do a post in the next few days on the techniques and equipment I used.  If you have any specific questions, just drop me a line.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Fabric Shopping and Local Flavor


I know I told you all weeks and weeks ago about my new sewing machine and how I had visions of textiles dancing in my head, and you’ll just have to take my work for it that I actually did make something wonderful (two somethings! Eeeek!) a full two weeks ago.  I made an Envelope Cushion Cover that I found here, and another project that I will refrain from mentioning until the intended recipients receive their surprises in the mail.  It was so much fun!  It was one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever had to hold my finished projects and know that not an hour previously they were just piles of fabric (much like when I did this and got so excited).  It was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into some more complicated projects.  I’m really keen to try out a dress, like this, or a quilt, like this.  I’m going to keep practicing with cushions and, ahem, other things, until I feel really comfortable with my machine, but after that, it’s anything goes!

I actually made my first fabric purchase from Joann’s, because I have one only about 10 minutes down the road, and it was very convenient.  But I actually had another place in mind that I wanted to check out for textiles called The Fabric Peddler.  I spent several of my college years in Carrollton, Ga, and it’s a pretty cool little town – a typical old southern town in that it’s got a great town square surrounded by all these cool old homes and buildings.  The one I had in mind is a former railroad depot that has been turned into a combination antique and fabric store.  The Fabric Peddler has been there for years, but I think the Feathers & Twigs is a fairly new addition, and I really had fun looking around. The fabric selection is pretty good, and I found two things on the “$3/yd” table that I’m looking forward to using.  I’ll tell you more about those another time, because, honestly, I had the most fun browsing the antiques.





I’m usaully skeptical when I see an “Antique” store, because most of the ones I wander into end up being just yard sale junk.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good yard sale, but I don’t think your IKEA coffee table that has seen better days qualifies as an “antique”.  This place was a typical consignment style antique format (one big space seperated into small areas for each seller’s items) but there was some great stuff here.  Things that were clearly aged, but of good quality, and lots of solid wood furnishings.  There was a good range of newer “lightly used” items likes those rolling pins, and some actual antiques, like the colander.  Everything was arranged beautifully, and there was plenty of room to move around.  All in all, a great little shop that I’ll be visiting again.  Hopefully soon since I found a chifferobe that I absolutely love, and if I can convince Jacob, I’ll be moving it into my bedroom next weekend…

After my browse through the store, I was heading out of town and so enjoying the beautiful weather (74° out on Saturday!  Lovely!) that I just had to stop and walk around the old part of town for a minute.  I took a few photos that I had to share some with you.  It’s hard to explain what is about places like this that I love so much, but they’re just so full of character and charm…and some other quality that I can’t quite put my finger on.  Whatever it is, I love old neighborhoods like this, and I could happily wander around for hours enjoying the view.





I hope all of you had equally lovely weekends, and a great St. Paddy’s day!

Book Themed Baby Shower: Hungry Caterpillar Kebabs, Favors, and Games


I know you all could probably figure out how to do the Very Hungry Caterpillar Kebabs from the description (easiest recipe ever, right?), but I wanted to do a post explaining some of the other parts of the shower, and these were just too cute not to mention.  And let’s be honest, just a few years ago I wasn’t the most crafty of girls, you know, and I would have wanted a step- by-step post telling me exactly what to do to make my shower food/favors/games/etc turn out exactly like the picture or article I was using for inspiration.

Hungry Caterpillar Kebabs: I wasn’t lying, dear readers, there really is no recipe.  It’s just fruit on a stick.  The only thing we did to make it special was to choose fruit that would make up the traditional ROYGBIV rainbow and arrange it accordingly.  I used plain wooded skewers and I used the folowing fruit for my rainbow: watermelon, canteloupe, pineapple, kiwi, blueberries, and red seedless grapes.  I used precut melons from Publix, since I didn’t need much, and canned pineapple slices that I cut into chunks (have you seen the fresh – I use the term loosely – pineapple that we get here in Georgia? More like fresh-but-picked-so-far-before-ripening-you-may-as-well-call-them-seeds).  For the rest I just cut up some kiwis (I needed 2 kiwis for 12 kebabs), and the fresh blueberries and grapes from the produce section.   I wish I could take credit for the rainbow idea, but one of my creative co-hosts came up with it, and I just executed it 🙂

Favors: I didn’t mention our favors before, but they were amazing, and very creative.  We used jam, in the small 4 oz Ball jars – they were meant to be a play on baby food, and I think it really turned out well.  At our last shower we also used jam for favors, because I had an abundance of it sitting around and we thought it would be cute.  Turns out, it was one of our best ideas, because everyone loved it there, and when we reprised it for this shower we had the same reaction.  I think because so few people can these days, and especially young people – until recently I only had 1 friend under the age of 50 who had canned anything – people are really impressed by it.  This time one of my co-hosts made the favors: we had Apple-Pear Butter and Blueberry Plum Jam to go with this children’s book.  I think people don’t realize how easy (and super fun!) it is to can, and so when you offer them a jar of preserves they imagine that you’ve been sweating over a pot of boiling fruit for days on end to produce it and they’re just in awe.   But really, small jars of jam or preserves, or even pickles, are great for shower favors both because they are one-of-a-kind, and because they are homemade .  I love giving homemade gifts for favors (or any “thank you” gift – hostess gifts, etc) because I feel like it’s such a genuine way to show someone that you appreciate their gift/time/hospitality.  Or just for a random Tuesday.  I’d love to receive another jar of Blueberry Plum Jam for no reason except that Kelly wanted to send me one.  I’m just saying.

Games: We had a really fun little game of Children’s Book Trivia – created by another of my co-hosts.  My friend Julie usually takes the game portion of our hosting duties, mostly because she’s awesome at it.  I don’t know if she used a template for this, or if she made it up on her own, but it was just a list of 15-20 questions about children’s books…I don’t have kids and haven’t been in the children’s secton in 20 years, but I knew 75% of them, so it was on a level that most anyone attending a baby shower would be able to participate in and and enjoy.  For prizes for the winner (not me, alas) she had a little pail of goodies (including glitter silly-putty! Jealous!).   It was a good game that went along with our theme, and was suitable for a wide audience (ie, those of us without kiddies had a fighting chance) and would be really easy to replicate.  I’ll try to get a template up here for reference for those of you who might like something to print out.

The second game we played was really fun, though a little more challenging.  We were given small packages of  baby food (no lables!) and had to identify the contents by their  appearance.  It was a little harder, but still lots of fun.  I’ll admit that I guessed a lot, and didn’t come close to winning, but it was fun watching everyone try to puzzle through it.  Also, since they aren’t perishable, we were able to give them to our future Mom to get a head start stocking her pantry.


Decor: I showed you this picture before and, honestly, this may have been my favorite part of the shower.  It was just too cute.  It was just purchased tissue paper balls hung up in a “Caterpillar” shape and with wee eyes and legs attached, but it was the first thing our geusts saw when they came in the hosue, and it was a really great memorable and inexpensive way to decorate.   You could hang it from the ceiling, over a buffet table maybe, or just set it out on a table behind food or gifts, or do as we did and hang it from a banister or railing.  The Mama-to-be loved it, and in fact told us that she was going to leave it up as long as possible because it was so cute – which is another plus.  You can give it to the guest of honor to use in the nursery or playroom and it’s another little gift.

All of the things we did here were pretty simple – and totally doable by almost anyone.  Please let me know if you have any questions, or need clarification on any of the ideas or products we used.

Next up:  Moonpie recipe.

Book Themed Baby Shower


I’ve been dying to tell you all about this, because, quite frankly, it was awesome.  This is the third shower I’ve hosted with this group of ladies, and we are a great team.  We’ve sorted out our particular talents so that each of us is doing something we’re good at, and also that we enjoy…it really makes for one heck of a shower when you have such amazing co-hosts. The book theme was really fun and easy to work with, and we were able to coordinate all the food, games, and decor with no trouble at all.  My co-host with the Cricut (such an amazing device!  I want one!) made the banner above, as well as the tissue paper Hungry Hungry Caterpillar, and the clothesline for the  gifts was her idea as well.  Another friend (the adorable young man below belongs to her) came up with some children’s book trivia games for us (I didn’t win.  I was actually sad about that, but then, I don’t read a lot of children’s books these days…), and our fourth co-host made us some lovely invitations, of which I have no photo…but they were made to coordinate with our banner (above) and you can rest assured, they were adorable.  Your truly was responsible for the food, and I can’t even tell you how much fun I had with it.  Everything I made was meant to go with one of the books and here’s the list:

Green Eggs and Ham – Spinach and Pancetta Quiche

Goodnight Moon – Homemade Moonpies

Give a Mouse a Cookie – assorted cookies, including Homemade Oreos, Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbreads, Sugar, and Chocolate Chip (not made by me, but I will be telling you about them, because they have a secret ingredient that is Killer)

The Tale of Peter Rabbit – Carrot Cupcakes

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – Baked Chicken Meatballs

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – fruit Kebabs

We also had Lemon-Berry Punch, which was a Martha Stewart recipe and came out quite well.  I’ve already share the meatball recipe with you, and I will be sharing the rest of them over the next week.  The carrot cupcake recipe came from (where else?) SmittenKitchen, and I’ll just direct you over to her site for the recipe.  As usual with Deb’s recipes, they turned out wonderfully – moist, tender, and tasty.  I did pipe wee carrots on top of them, and I was quite proud of how they looked, since I usually have no great gift for decorating.  Please do email, or comment, if you have any questions about any of our decor or the theme, etc.  We had so much fun being creative with it, but it took a few skype brainstorming sessions and quite a bit of time on Pinterest for us to put all of our ideas to solid plans and then to reality.  For now, enjoy some photos of the happy Mama-to-be, and be sure to check back in a day or two for the recipes!






KatiesBabyShower-4 KatiesBabyShower-1


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Decor from the…yard?


Can you believe I got those bud vases at Wal-Mart?  I’ve been wanting to use more greenery in my decorating, so when I saw these little vases, I thought it would be a great way for me to dip my toe in the water, so to speak.  I’ve mentioned this blog to you before, but Pure Style Home is a really great site that I find very inspirational, and Lauren has mentioned using greenery – even just the plain little things you have growing around your yard that wouldn’t necessarily work for an arrangement – in vases, glasses, bowls, or any other vessel you find attractive, as a cheap way to add color and that little something extra to a room.  You always see flowers and greenery in magazine showcase homes, and store windows, but it’s something anyone can do in their own home with very little effort, and for free.  I love having flowers around, and especially if you’re expecting guests, it can really dress your home up and give it a fresh, chic look – especially if, like me, you don’t have a lot of other decor yet.  Since we moved into a larger house I’ve found that the things I was using as decor in our previous home just aren’t enough to fill in our new space, so I’m always looking for ways to add to our sparsely decorated living area.

I had a small dinner party last Friday night – just some family over for a meal and a visit – and I really wanted to put my little vases into use, so off I went out into our (rainy) yard.  Thanks to the previous owners, who were very enthusiastic gardeners, we have lots of plants around our home, so  I walked out onto our front porch with no real plan in mind except to see what captured my fancy.   As I stood there looking around, I felt like I was seeing my yard for the very first time; since we’ve only been here for the winter season so far, I’ve only been seeing my plants for the potential they have to be pretty when they’re blooming.   It’s been pretty gloomy in our yard, actually, especially since we’ve had almost a week straight of gray, rainy days, so it was like a whole new world of pretty things opened up in front of me.  Most of my plants are actually fairly attractive, even without their blooms, and I’ve been overlooking them this whole time.  I saw that my azaleas had these really pretty glossy red leaves, and my little eucalyptus tree is perfect for adding a sculptural element; my rosemary is blooming with these tiny purple flowers (I used that in another vase in my kitchen), and I have lots of Leyland Cyprus trees just waiting to donate a snipped twig or two to my decorating efforts.  So if you’re feeling a little gloomy amid all the winter weather, or rainy days, I encourage you to step outside and take a fresh look at your yard.  You never know what will appeal to you, and you can bring a little of the outdoors in to give your home a little facelift.

I love to hear your thoughts!  What do you guys do to add that special touch to your home?

Link Love

Remember how I told you all about my gardening plans the other day?  And my new sewing machine a few days later?  Well, I’ve been kind of wrapped up in those things – I don’t have a huge amount of experience with either of them, so I’ve been surfing the web, reading books, trying to learn as much as I can so I can put all my big plans into action.  I thought I’d share some of the websites and blogs that I’ve found useful.  Enjoy!  And by all means, please share any helpful links you may have found as well.

Sewing in a Straight Line – This book looks amazing!  I must have it.  Also, her website is great too.

Tilly and the Buttons – some great info for beginners here.

Keeper of the Home – lots of great home-making ideas here, but I found the Gardening 101 articles to be particularly helpful.

Six Sisters Stuff – a great site for crafts and sewing.  I had this recommended to me by a friend, and I think it’ll be my first sewing project.

Threads Magazine – I just found this one and haven’t had much time to peruse it yet, but it looks like there are some good things here.

Walter Reeves – known as the Georgia Gardener, I have gotten both his flower and vegetable gardening books.  I know this won’t help much if you don’t live in Georgia, but if you do, his site is invaluable.

Pinterest – I can’t stay away from here.  But it is a huge source of inspiration…lots of cool ideas and sites I may not have found on my own.


Hope you all have a great Monday (oxymoronic?), and maybe find some of your own inspiration here…and don’t forget to share!



Adventure Awaits!


Ohmygoodness.  Do I have the best husband or what?  I showed you all my birthday surprise last week – as if flowers, chocolates, and a sparkly surprise (I didn’t show you, but take my work for it, it’s lovely) aren’t the best thing a girl could ask for on her birthday, I got this in the mail a couple of days ago.  I told you how I’ve been feeling so inspired lately; well, now I have an outlet for all those creative juices bubbling about.  I’ve been contemplating buying one of these bad boys for a while now, but I’ve been dragging my feet since I know absolutely nothing about sewing (unless watching 12 seasons of Project Runway counts as experience? No? Oh well).  Well no more excuses!  I’ve got my eye on a beginners sewing class at the Atlanta Sewing Center, and hopefully I’ll be making Tim Gunn proud in no time.

In other news: I’ll be heading out to my parents’ farm tomorrow to lend a hand – and I’m taking volunteers.  Anyone interested in hard labor with few immediate benefits, but extremely enticing long term rewards including, but not limited to increased muscle tone, access to high quality grass-fed meats and abundant fresh air, and the likelihood that you’ll fall asleep immediately upon becoming horizontal is welcome to join me.   Oh, and did I mention the breathtaking views of Alabama farm country?  There’s no place like home!





That’s me feeding greedy guts there a couple of years ago – I love being on the farm, and especially when there are adorable critters like that to visit with.  Here’s hoping for good weather tomorrow so I can get some pictures of this year’s new additions – lambs and pigs were born recently, so photo opportunities abound if we can get some decent sunlight.

I hope all of you have a lovely Friday!