Scenes from the South

By Kate Riley June 27, 2012

Brace yourself, this is one of those meeeeellion images posts cause I just gotta share.

Okay.  We haven’t taken a real hop-on-an-airplane family vacation in five years, so ever since we started planning the Haven Conference last year and ever since my brother and his family also moved to Savannah a year ago it made perfect sense to book a flight to Georgia with the whole family and spend the week. 

The trip was personally meaningful to me because my older brother who serves in the military is headed to the Middle East for six months in September so this was a real opportunity to spend time with him and his family before he departs for his tour of duty (so proud of him and our troops!).  Having spent the week, I shall have Georgia on my mind and in my heart forever and ever amen.   

We arrived at my brother and sister-in-law’s house in Savannah, and I haven’t seen them in over a year so it was instant hug/melt/hi y’all have a drink relaxation from the moment we walked in the door.  My sister-in-law who I adore is one of those gals who decorates her home with what she loves and doesn’t give a hoot about what’s in the latest shelter magazines and still her home has so much comfort and style because it’s all about the needs of her family and the things she loves.

sis house

I love that kind of decorating philosophy – it makes one feel instantly welcome. 

Our first night was spent on her screened porch which I totally failed to photograph, but imagine pretty white siding and stylish comfortable seating and plants in containers galore with a ceiling fan blowing you as you sip sweet tea and your cares melt away, and quite frankly it’s a little piece of heaven on earth. 

She made us fried green tomatoes and baked garlic cheese grits on our arrival, wow, such southern hospitality!

fried green tomatoes and grits


At daylight we headed to Fort Pulaski to give the kids an education! 

fort pulaski cannons


We adults also wanted to get a dose of Civil War history so we toured the Fort and learned a few things from this guide like how “invincible” Fort Pulaski fell in under two days due to a more advanced weaponry. 

tour of fort pulaski


We arrived in time to see the cannons fired – I made a little slide show for all of you who love history – I find Civil War history so fascinating and this was a definite highlight (which required covering your ears for the “boom”.) 

cannon fire


The beautiful brick interior.

fort pulaski


The kids loved this place, and posed for a pic atop a cannon – those are my sweet nephews and my niece together with my own offspring.  My son loved wearing his 49ers hat near Falcons territory, he’s a diehard like his dad. 

kids on cannon


After our tour, we headed to The Crab Shack on Tybee Island for a seafood feast, complete with alligator sightings followed up by crab and company and adult beverages that make you very very happy.  

tybee crab shack

alligators at crab shack

crab feast

drinks at crab shack


My nephews do what boys do best and also make me literally laugh out loud. 

my nephew

my nephew 2


A few more scenes of Tybee which I can’t wait to explore more next time we visit!

tybee island walk

tybee beach

tybee light station


We spent the next full day in downtown Savannah, seeing all the historic buildings, homes, and churches.  We started our day in line at the famous Mrs. Wilkes, which we understood to be the place for great southern food.  It did not disappoint! 

wilkes house savannah


There is no menu, oh no, they just bring you what’s in the kitchen and many bowls and plates and all authentic recipes from the best fried chicken to black-eyed peas to barbeque with sweet tea and your eyes roll back in your head with delight as you feast on the best from the South, it’s worth the wait.

southern food


While we waited in line, I snuck away to visit the neighboring design shops, the first was One Fish, Two Fish, I wanted to take home everything in this store, helloooo gorgeousness!  That incredible painting is by Bellamy Murphy, and there were several different paintings of hers hanging throughout the shop.

one fish two fish decor

blue and gold display

handbags and jewelry one fish twof ish

one fish two fish chandy and ginger jars

one fish two fish decor 2


Next door is Circa Lighting, oh my, can I have one of each please?

circa lighting lamps


After lunch we headed out for a walking tour of downtown Savannah, I could not could NOT get enough of the architecture.  I was reminded how among the southern cities Savannah was spared by General Sherman’s march in the war 150 years ago, and you can see the history in the buildings there. 

historic home savannah

savannah downtown

downtown savannah fountain

savannah gardens

savannah home

catholic church savannah


savannah architecture

moss in oaks savannah

savannah historic home


The last day was all about fun so we packed a picnic and headed to Hilton Head to spend time swimming in the warm waters of the Atlantic (oh hello cute lifeguard!).

swimming in atlantic


Matt was attacked (I kid you not) by a tiny crab floating in the waves that pinched him a dozen times before it was thrown back into the sea, so Matt swore “revenge!” on his family and we decided crab was again on the menu for dinner.  We spent it at The Salty Dog (thanks for all the recommendations!) where we had Rum Runners and crab cakes and more crab legs too.

the salty dog

salty dog grocery store


This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip.  Perhaps it was the Rum Runner (okay two) I consumed, perhaps it was the colors on the buildings and the boats along the dock, perhaps it was a three days spent with family, perhaps it was the perfect evening light reflecting on the water, but there was this magical moment in Hilton Head where I felt at last like I was really finally after all these years on vacation – so relaxed, so happy, so blessed, so in love with this place that I absolutely know I will return to it again someday!

salty dog hilton head dock

And do some boating like these dudes!

hilton head


The next day we drove four hours up to Atlanta for the THE HAVEN CONFERENCE!  There is so so so so much to say, where oh where to begin? 

haven conference

Rhoda pretty much summed up the whole story in her post which is a must read.  What happened was a year ago we DIY/home blogger gals came up with this idea to fill a need – there was no conference that was focused on what we do and since there are so so many of us online now we just had to have a conference of “our own” so we formed a team and started at square one (a venue) which led to choosing a name (Haven) which led to asking our sponsors to take a chance on us ladies (thank you!) as we Skyped every Sunday night to pull this event together.  The team worked diligently over the course of a year to pull it off and we were biting our nails up until the moment it all began hoping all the time invested would pay off.  It did !!!!!

Now I’m a bad bad bad blogger in that not once not once  did I bring my camera down from my hotel room to take pics since I was running around conversing with so many of the attendees, but if you want to read the recaps then visit Rhoda’s link party.

I must bow before the team who worked their tails off on Wednesday to make sure it was a success and all of us are so happy that those who were there had such a great time and walked away with so much information and inspiration.  Thank you to each and every person who attended Haven and thanks so much to all who came up to all of us and said hello, shared your name, your smile, and your excitement!  Your stack of business cards sits on my desk with very fond memories of your faces and links to so many new blogs to read!  

Here’s a pic of many blog buddies at the event (thanks Brittany for sharing this photo!) 

haven mavens

From top left: Gina, Beckie, Beth, Rhoda, Sarah, me, Chris, Sandra, Myra, Marian, Stacy, Wendy, Traci, Roeshel, Brittany. 

Special thanks to John & Sherry who gave a fantastic keynote and all the speakers in all the sessions who totally rocked it.  We ended on Friday on a very high note and *fingers crossed* the conference could come back next year, stay tuned for that announcement by following on Facebook

Whew.  What a week, what a high!

I’m in need of some rest, and more sweet tea. I miss you Georgia, thanks for showing this California gal such a great time. 




  1. I think the best part was the “revenge” on the crab :) I have never been to GA aside from the layover on the airlines. I need to go and visit – it looks like you had a BLAST!

  2. So glad you enjoyed it here! Savannah is one of my favorite towns, ever – about three hours from my house. I sometimes forget what a great state it is – like I will do this upcoming weekend – when it is supposed to be 105 degrees. ugh.

  3. As a lifelong Georgia peach, I’m so happy you enjoyed your time here! There is nothing better than southern hospitality… except maybe all the yummy food you had! Your pictures of Tybee Island, Crab Shack and Savannah make me proud to be a Georgia girl! Hope y’all come back real soon!

  4. Savannah area — one of the best vacations my husband & I have experienced. Recommend the midnight ghost carriage ride.

  5. I’m really glad you had such a nice time. I live here in the South East and I always enjoy it when visitors think highly of their visit. Between the oak trees and palms, the beautiful beaches, the kind people, the great southern cooking, and the awesome architecture…what’s not to love? :)
    It looks like you had a really relaxing time and made some wonderful memories with your family. I’m glad.

  6. How fun! So glad you were able to turn your Haven trip into a family vacation. And happy you enjoyed Georgia! It was a pleasure to meet you and hopefully I will have a chance to talk to you more next time!

  7. Looks like you had a great time! Any idea who did the painted canvas in the first One Fish, Two Fish image? It’s gorgeous. I looked on their site, but they didn’t have it listed.

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Kylie and MM, I updated the post with the name of the artist!

  8. So glad you got to visit Savannah. We take long weekends there several times a year. It’s our favorite weekend spot~ so glad it’s only a few hours drive from us. (I’m a former California girl from SoCal)Hopefully next year I will make it to Haven and meet y’all!

  9. Looks like it was a very successful and fun trip for all of you! Sharing all your photos (even if you think you had too many) is great for those of us who have never been to any of those places. Thanks for posting!

  10. What a great looking trip. It seems like you all had a great time. I’ve never been to Georgia but it sure seems like a fun place from your pictures. My brother in law is in the military and my sister and him and their kids are moving to Virginia soon so we will be taking more trips to the east coast when they do. We live in California so it’s a pretty far trip.

  11. Ahhh…I miss Savannah! My husband was stationed in Savannah for nearly 7 years with the Army and we LOVED it! Thankfully, we still own our home there (thanks to the marvelous housing market we had to rent it), but it gives us an excuse to head back every once in a while. Glad you had fun. Will be praying for safety for your brother and his upcoming deployment!

  12. So glad you guys had a great time. We moved here last year and live on Skidaway Island. Come back soon!!!

  13. So glad you enjoyed your visit to GA!! I didn’t get a chance to meet you, but I loved every second of Haven and have never been so energized and enlightened by all the wonderful people and wealth of information!
    Hope you’ll come back soon — if not, see you next year! :)

  14. I’m from very near that area and this post makes me so very homesick! We’ve been in CA a year now (Hi neighbor!) and I can’t believe how quickly it has passed. It’s also been a little over a year since we were able to visit our family in that area and it’s just killing me. I want to cozy up to a glass of that sweet tea in your picture and enjoy some time with family. So glad you were able to get away and be with family and have what looks to be a wonderful time, thank you for sharing it with us!

  15. Wow! What a nice vacation! I would so love to attend Haven sometime. For now, I am content to have a small Blog Luncheon here in Northern Ca. I have been hosting small blog forums for a few months now and there is something special about meeting someone face-to-face who you have been following. My next Blog event is this Friday and I am excited about how it is growing! I will be hosting another event in the Fall, I would it if you could attend! I always enjoy your posts, Terry from

  16. I just booked a girls trip to Savannah in November and can’t wait!! Thanks for all the great photos! Hopefully I can convince one of the girls to pill themselves away from the shopping and tour some of the architecture with me:)
    Thanks for sharing!

  17. Love Georgia. Miss visiting (it’s been a while) except for the alligator part. My experience with one of those Georgia bad boys is not something I’d ever want to go back & re-do. Glad y’all had a wonderful time!

  18. So glad you got some time in Hilton Head! My family has been vacationing there for over 10 years, and my hubby and I hope to retire there one day (after we get these last 2 kids out of college – ugh!). We love the Salty Dog, South Beach and bicycling around the island.
    I live in a suburb of Atlanta, but couldn’t make the conference because I used all my time off to spend 2 weeks in Hilton Head earlier this summer. I’m so glad the Haven conference was a success – maybe I’ll make the next one!

  19. Kate – sounds like a fabulous trip – thank you for sharing! I have vacationed on Hilton Head Island every year for the last 27 years and I can honestly say that I have the “magical moment” every single trip. We are now proud owners of a beach cottage there, and we are making memories with our children similar to those that I made with my dear family growing up. I chit chat about HHI quite a bit on my blog. I always say, I don’t know anyone who has gone to Hilton Head just once. Isn’t South Beach the best? So glad you loved it! And Savannah is just the coolest little place, isn’t it? Loved your pictures!

  20. Sounds like you and I had similar vacations planned with our Haven treks. Although we ended up going to Savannah after we didn’t get into the aquarium in Atlanta last Saturday. We visited Tybee Island as well and I LOVED the beautiful old homes in Savannah. We then drove up to Charleston which I might love even more than Savannah. If you’ve never been to Charleston, you simply must come to visit! Glad you had a great, relaxing time with your brother and family! Haven was great, thanks for all your hard work and effort!!!!

  21. Chicago, for Haven 2013? :) Smack dab in the mid of the country…cheap flights b/c of O’Hare Airport.

    Savannah, GA. My heaven. I love the South. Stood up in a wedding there back in 2010. A good friend of my family’s lives on Hilton Head Island. Simply divine there. I dream of sweet tea and weeping willows daily.

  22. You have me wanting to head back up there now. How did I miss those pretty beaches and awesome food? At least I can say I enjoyed my tail off at Haven! Y’all did an awesome job and I can’t thank you enough. Already planning on attending next year.. ;)

  23. If you’re coming to the south, you couldn’t have picked a better and more beautiful place than Savannah/Tybee Island. Love One Fish, Two Fish! The Paris Market is a must do store to visit, too. And all the locals suggested the Crab Shack, although we liked Uncle Bubba’s on Tybee better than anywhere else we ate there, even though it has received some bad press. Glad you had fun. The extremely hot temps weren’t here yet last week, so your timing couldn’t have been better. You should re-locate like the other third of California. I do believe they are all my neighbors! ;o)

  24. Stunning! I’m a Swede who has never been to the American south. That’s it, now I really need to go. What a beautiful territory to explore!

  25. We’re stationed just a few hours north of Savannah, and we’ve never been. Seeing your pictures and reading your reviews of everything make me want to visit that much more! Glad you enjoyed our fine state and your time in the South :)

  26. I’ve spent all of 6 hours in Savannah from about 11pm until 5am and I could tell it was the kind of place I would love. Does that even make sense? I love all of your pics … and yes, Hello cute life gaurd. :)

  27. So glad you loves Savannah!! I have lived here since May of 2004. I can’t get enough of it. Love On Fish Two Fish – the owner is my neighbor!!! Looks like your brother took you to great locations to really get a taste of Savannah!! I love your blog – enjoy reading your entries!!

  28. Until you can return to Savannah, if you are missing it you can watch “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” with Kevin Spacey and John Cusak.

    I think one of the locations you photographed (the one with the urn seen through the gate in the reddish wall) may have been used in the movie (or not, but it immediately reminded me of it.) Great film, but not one for the kiddos.

  29. Kate! I’m so glad you had such a good time. You literally hit up the best of the best. The hubs & I were married in Savannah (across from the fountain). Our rehearsal was at The Crab Shavk of all places & he drags me to Fort Pulaski everytime we visit. The home decor shops are crazy good! Savannah will always hold a place in my heart ;)

  30. Glad y’all had fun! We are also stationed there (for the 2nd time!). Your post reminded me not to take this beautiful place for granted. Although, we make the 7 hr drive to Destin when we want beach time. You will never catch me in that dirty Tybee water!
    P.S. Haven should remain in Atlanta next year :)

  31. The sweetest part for me was hearing how much you love your brother and sister-in-law. Of all the people in the world, I can’t imagine words more gratifying than those that come from a sister-in-law… and one who ” just adores” you… Well it just doesn’t get much better than that.

  32. I love these pictures. It seem like you had a great time. I love the architecture of the some of those buildings. Very charming. Glad you ejoyed your time with your brother.


  33. PERFECT TIMING! We are going to Hilton Head and Savannah next week (even though the temps are expected to be over 100). Although I’m a southerner already (NC, SC and VA), I haven’t been to Hilton Head since high school, and have never been to Savannah. I’ve been looking for things to do, and now I’ve found our itinerary – exactly as you posted. Thanks for the preview! (Not sure I want to wait in line for Mrs. Wilkes, but everything else looks perfect!)

  34. Hi Kate. Thank you so much for this post. I’m a Savannah native so I really really appreciate you bringing me a dose of home this morning. I’ve been in Sacramento for so long now that I almost forgot how beautiful that southern coastal city is. Looking through those pictures I could feel the humid air, taste the salt water taffy and boiled peanuts, and hear the sounds of the cobble stone roads of River Street. The Spanish Moss trees and architecture alone are sending my heart on a homesick journey. I’m so glad Savannah was good to you. Thank you for sharing.

  35. Each one of the “Haven” blogs have made me want to attend next year, but yours makes me want to buy tickets – Lots of tickets. Haven, Airline, Hotel, etc. Can’t wait to hear the details for next year’s conference.

    Thanks for the wonderful pictures.

  36. My husband and I were there last year Thanksgiving to celebrate his birthday. We had a fabulous time and went to the One Fish Two Fish store. Your pictures brought back alot of really nice memories.


  37. This post very nearly broke my heart. I nearly moved to Savannah 4 years ago for art school. Obviously that didn’t happen… and I don’t regret anything that led to the decision to stay where I am, BUT good lord I love that town. It’s SO incredibly beautiful. I truly wish I could live there (but still have the life I have now).
    So glad you had a great time visiting family. Haven looked like a wonderful event! I wish there were conferences like that around here – maybe when our brand new Convention Center is finished there will be :)

  38. Thanks so much for posting all of these pictures!! It’s like a slice of heaven and a mini vacation of my own ;) And the pictures of your nephew made me laugh out loud also!! Haha! Love love love all the pics of houses n such. Oh how I’d love to go there!

  39. Loved the post! My husband and I went to Savannah for our honeymoon ten years ago, and spent a night at Tybee. We ate at the Crab Shack and LOVED it!!

  40. Savannah/Tybee is one of my favorite places in the world. I often say I’d live there if not for the humidity… because I would look hideous. Thank you so, so much for sharing these pictures.

  41. FRIED GREEN TOMATOES! I grew up in Northern CA where I live now, however I lived in Vidalia, Ga for a time. There is very little I miss about Georgia but FGT is tops on the list of what I do miss…yummmm! Savannah is second :)

    Happy to say I can still make a mean sweet tea here at home in Nor Cal.

  42. I’m actually going to be in Savannah (for the first time) this weekend. Thanks for sharing all the places you went, I’ve been trying to decide where to go and where to eat! Your images are gorgeous…I can’t wait!

  43. I love Savannah and all of that Southern charm and the look and feel of it! Looks like an amazing trip. Ironically, I was born and raised in Lancaster, Ohio, birthplace of General Sherman…his house is there that you can visit. I’m sure his name is mud down south. :) My junior high was General Sherman Junior High!

  44. It looks like you had a great trip Kate! You must be very very proud of your brother! What branch of the services is he in? I’m an Army wife, hooah! Wishing your brother comes home safe and sound. Wishing his wife, kiddos and you as extended family the best while he is away….military families sacrifice so much and its so nice that you showed your support to him and his immediate family by visiting to say goodbye. I am sure you all will be a terrific source of support to each other during the deployment. Glad you had an amazing time at Haven!!! Have a great week :) Heather

  45. As a Georgia girl, Savannah and Tybee are two of my favorite places! You can’t do better than the Crab Shack for seafood! Next time, try Davinci’s Pizza. It’s GOOD! Glad Georgia treated you right!

  46. Oh, what a fun post! I love travel posts…your pics always make me feel like I’m strolling the streets too. I’ve never been to Tybee Island, but we passed signs for it on the way home from Florida. Does that count? ;) ;)

    If you love Civil War history, you’d be in heaven in my town. We have a lot of stuff that dates back to before the Revolutionary War, but most tourists come for Civil War history and to tour parts of the town that were engaged in the CW battle.

    Thanks for sharing your fun with us. Haven was a success, and I’ll be on the lookout for announcements about next year!

  47. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you were in Savannah! I have followed your blog for a year and I live in Savannah. I would have died if I saw you walking around here:). I love your design sense.

  48. Just returned from Tybee yesterday! I have lots of similar pictures to the ones you posted here. What a great place!

  49. We were supposed to include a few days in Savannah into our family vaca last week, but saw reports of some not so nice weather so extended our stay to Myrtle Beach. I loved seeing all of the photos…and I think I’ve been to all of the places with the exception of The Wilkes House (we went to The Lady & Sons instead). Your photos make me want to go dig out all of mine. It’s a great place to visit.

  50. I missed this post last summer, apparently, but had to comment because we were there ! We rented a beach house on Tybee for a week and did some visiting in Savannah as well. My favorite thing in Savannah was the bike tour my hubby and I went on one morning before the heat set in. Such a fun (and quick) way to see a lot of the historic sites in the downtown area. My favorite thing in Tybee was the Tybee Beach Ecology Tour with Dr. Joe. He helps you find all kinds of cool creatures that live along the edge of the ocean. Super-fun for me since I used to want to be a marine biologist! We planned to stop at Fort Pulaski on our way out of the area, but that last day it was 106 degrees by 9am and we were so sweaty just from packing up the car that we just couldn’t bear it. Ah well, maybe another time!

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