August is here already? Say it ain’t so! I’m not ready for the conclusion of summer, particularly given that we haven’t taken our paddleboards out a single time with as crazy busy as we’ve been.
But Aug. 1 is a very special day indeed: It’s Camels & Chocolate’s 12th birthday! That’s right, this little blog is entering middle school, and I can’t believe that I’ve officially been blogging one-third of my life. I mean, what? And people say blogs are dead!
I typically write introspective posts around this time ever year—you can read a sampling of those here—but I’d love to hear what you want more of going forward. Trip itineraries? DIY house projects? Our day-to-day work running a media production company? More posts about my niece? (Please vote for the last one, ha!) Camels & Chocolate has transitioned from a personal diary to a travel blog back to a lifestyles site where I cover all of the above and more, but it’s important to me that I also write about what you are most interested in. So please tell me in the comments!
I feel so behind on my blogging, mainly because we’ve thrown ourselves into non-profit work and community improvement projects full force this summer, but looking at my blog calendar, I somehow managed to publish seven posts regardless. Many of my destination posts take anywhere from 15 to 30 hours to research, write and edit—not to mention, the time spent in the destination—with posts from places like Oklahoma City taking easily double that, and I miss the days when I could pound out a blog post in an afternoon, but am simultaneously proud of the level of work product we’re constantly putting out so I guess it’s a trade-off.
July had us away from home only four nights, and yet it seemed like we weren’t home at all. But after looking back at the past month, I can see why….
My mural feature ran in Parade. This is one of my favorite cover stories I’ve written in my more than 15 years of being a journalist, and I love what the designers did with the cover. You can still find it in your local newspaper, as it’s on newsstands the whole week of July 28. A roundup of a mural in each of the 50 states also ran online, highlighting the artists who created them.
Speaking of murals…we installed a new one. And boy is she a BEAUTY. I’m going to write a stand-alone post about the entire renovation process of the Tullahoma Art Center, the grant we applied for to fund the new mural and the three days it took Tara Aversa to paint her, but for now, marvel at the mastery. She was just completed two days ago!
We went to St. Augustine for four nights over SVV’s birthday weekend, the Fourth of July. The old man turned 45 and is closer to 50 than he is 40 as I like to remind him! I was having too much fun playing with my bestie Jade and Kid Augustine to document our trip, but if you’re looking for St. Augustine travel tips, luckily I’ve written about our past two trips to this chill enclave of Atlantic Coast Florida. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Jade’s parents for so graciously hosting us for four days. It was a blast and relaxation that was much-needed by everyone.
We had a lot of family greet us when we returned. When we arrived back from St. Augustine, my cousin’s kids were here for two weeks, as was my sister’s 15-year-old niece, then my 15-year-old niece Kiva and SVV’s mom Joan flew in from California and 11 more Clareys arrived from South Carolina. Then my cousin, her husband, and their other kid came at the end of the week to pick up the girls and stay for a night. We had a total of 26 people at our house at one point, and it was so much fun because it was all family from all sides!
We went to Huntsville with NASA. If you think spending a full day behind the scenes at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center for the kick-off of the Apollo 50th anniversary is not SVV’s idea of a dream day, you don’t know my husband. You can read all about his space crush here.
We got to see my Mayor Pete speak at a winery on a weekday morning. Haven’t been wowed by this South Bend mayor who’s just a year my senior yet? Oh just you wait, you will. Ever since he burst on the national scene at the end of last year, I’ve been enamored by this even-keeled military veteran who is beloved by the folks of South Bend and would make an excellent president for the great US of A; I’ve been sporting my “Boot Edge Edge” shirt proudly all year long. I loved what he said about bringing American values back, and every last point he made had everyone in the room throwing up praise hands and aggressively nodding in agreement. I really want to go to South Bend to see this city of which he speaks so highly!
We wrapped up our tennis season. I totally failed to mention that my sister and I, both ex-tennis players, joined a league of 64 people this summer and played as a doubles team for three months. We didn’t win a lot of matches—mainly because we were the number two seed and hadn’t played in 15 years, not to mention were mostly paired with male coaches who hit daily—but it sure was a lot of fun. The Cedar House is right by a quartet of courts, so I really want to get into the rhythm of playing on the regular now.
My AAA Living story came out for July/August. It’s almost been two years since I’ve had this gig, and I’ve loved covering my state every other month for such a large audience! If you’re a AAA subscriber, you should get this magazine in your mailbox every other month.
I’m in week three of intermittent fasting. And of all the eating plans I’ve attempted, this is by far the easiest! If you want to hear more, leave me a note in the comments and I’ll consider writing a post about it in the future. Basically, I follow the 16:8 plan and eat all my meals between noon and 8pm, though with my unreliable schedule, it tends to be closer to 18:6 most days. Yes, I’m hungry in the off-hours, but it’s not unmanageable like when I do Whole 30.
I spent a lot of pool time with my niece. The nice part about being home almost all of July was plenty of Charlotte time!
I booked two for-fun trips. One is a very quick overnight to take SVV to see Hamilton (we’re meeting his sister there!) and the other is a four-night trip to Bermuda with my mom and sis for Mom’s 70th birthday. Anyone been to Bermuda? Have any tips for us? We couldn’t be more excited to check off a new country together!
We’ve worked on our first local election for our dear friend Rupa Blackwell. It’s been a blast helping her with events and marketing, but also inspiring watching her knock on hundreds of doors and speak to more than 2,000 residents while eight months pregnant in this summer heat. THIS is the alderman we all need: one who is passionate beyond belief and never going to give up while representing her constituents’ best interests. If you’re in Tullahoma, PLEASE VOTE today. Polls close at 7pm, and civic elections are every bit as important as gubernatorial and presidential elections.
Not a whole lot to complain about. Life has been roses lately. We’re completely booked on work through the end of this year at this point, and the new July-June fiscal year brought us a whole lot of new and exciting clients we can’t wait to reveal all in good time. So there’s no real low of which to speak, and I’m grateful for that!
August has us going to Blount County this weekend for work, coming back and installing another mural(!), making a quick trip to Chicago, then heading out on possibly one more work trip.