15 Ways to Brighten a Winter Day

Happy New Year and Happy Ground Hog’s Day as well! As has become my tradition, I took most of December and January off to enjoy family time and organize myself for this new year! We are welcoming February with high winds, rain and a nice little cold front here in North Georgia. While Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow up north, General Beau, Georgia’s own groundhog apparently did not.

{Rumor has it he wasn’t awake enough to see much of anything!}

Regardless of whether there will be six more weeks of winter or an early spring, the American calendar does confirm we have 6 weeks until the official first day of Spring. Whether it’s rainy, snowy or just plain ugly as winter days can often be, winter is not the most popular season.

With that in mind, I thought I would share Fifteen ways to brighten up your winter days.

1. Plant winter color – pansies, violas, crocus … all of these beautiful options are delightful in a couple of porch or patio containers during the season when everything is so dreary looking.

2. Go for a winter walk or hike. Bundle up if you must, but even just a few minutes in the outdoors on a sunny day improves your mood drastically!

3. Make a savory pot of stew. Simple, filling, homey, cosy … a pot of stew not only warms you up (and lasts through a couple of meals), but evokes wonderful memories of winter at home.

4. Plan out your spring and summer gardens. While you’re at it, order a few seeds as well!

5. Refinish a piece of furniture. Hit up a thrift store or Facebook marketplace and find an inexpensive project piece to keep you busy.

6. Open up the curtains and blinds and let the light in. Natural light (not the beer) is a known mood booster!

7. Set aside a few minutes daily for quiet time. Whether you read, close your eyes while listening to classical music, or really enjoy sipping your morning coffee choose a time of day for refocusing your mind and disconnecting from everyday stress.

8. Volunteer. Shelters and food kitchens all over are desperate for help right now. Even just one afternoon a week can make a huge difference in someone’s life, including your own.

9. Visit a local museum or other historical venue. This is a great way to get to learn your community or region. You might be surprised at what you find out about where you live!

10. Grow indoor plants or try your hands a forcing a bloom or two.

11. Visit the Georgia Coast. Carry a bike, a beach picnic, and enjoy a romantic weekend away in the Spanish moss of Jekyll Island.

12. Have a tea party for one or for several, it really doesn’t matter. Just turn off your phone and television, light some candles, find a Nancy Meyers inspired (think The Holiday, It’s Complicated, Father of the Bride, or Home Again) playlist on Spotify, and serve up a delightful afternoon of “chick” food, tea and conversation or a good book. There is no wrong way to enjoy tea!

13. Have a winter picnic. Pack plenty of blankets, and get creative with your menu. From a location where you can build a bonfire to soup served straight from the thermos there are many ways to enjoy this unique picnic.

14. Exercise. Winter is a great time to begin an exercise program. Not only will it boost your endorphins and your mood (‘happy people don’t kill their husbands” …. name that movie), you’ll feel better in the spring and summer when you bring out the shorts.

15. Set your goals for the year. I made this last for a reason; not everyone has goals or even knows what their goals are! For some people this is high priority, for others it is not, and guess what?! That is perfectly alright! The United States is a fast-paced goal driven society, but sometimes just living in the moment and seeing where it takes you is just as satisfying as checking off something on a list.

Is there anything different you would add to this list? I would love to hear your ideas!

Until next time, create a bright spot in your little corner of winter.

10 Things: November Edition

Wow!

So I blinked and October came and went. Here it is November with the holidays right around the corner and my head is spinning.

My 10 things list for November is not really a bucket list as much, but a little life update and a glimpse of the direction the last two months of the year is heading. As I type, Audley is mowing the yard for what we hope will be the last time, Halloween decor (that wasn’t put up until a couple of days before) has already been taken down, steaks are ready for the grill and we have plans to watch the Atlanta Braves play Houston tonight in hopes they are bringing home the World Series title (They won as of publishing this post). Its 63 outside with gorgeous Autumn skies.

Hello November in Georgia.

1. Audley and I have new titles… On October 1st MacKenzie Grace delivered our first grandbaby and we officially became Papa and Lolli. Mariah is absolutely perfect and beautiful, and I am so in love! I was able to spend a week with this wee lass and her parents after her arrival. After savoring every moment, it was so hard to leave!

Y’all, Lolli life is so good.

2. It’s time for my annual fall deep clean. Over the last two weeks baseboards have been scrubbed, guest bedding updated, duvet covers changed, shelves dusted, carpets shampooed, curtains refreshed and the raised beds prepped for winter. I find it so much easier to decorate and entertain for the holidays if I start with a clean slate. When it’s time to break it all down after Christmas, the mess isn’t as bad as it could be. I’m not a fan of packing up the Christmas decor having to deep clean immediately.

Does anyone else deep clean before the holidays?

3. November is a great month for self-care. Use the early part of the month to take some time for yourself before the craziness of the holiday season sets in. Go ahead and indulge in Coffee-Mate’s Peppermint Mocha Creamer in your Saturday morning coffee. Top it with whipped cream and take in the autumn sunrise. Grab a patchwork quilt and curl up with a Hallmark Countdown to Christmas movie marathon. Turn off your phone and go to bed early. While we should count our blessings and show gratitude year round, November is a great month to keep a gratitude journal as apart of a self care routine. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to treat yourself. Little things can make a huge impact on our psyche.

4. Take a cooler weather hike. Pull on a cozy sweatshirt, leggings and a pair of tennis shoes and hit up a local state or National park for some fresh air and vitamin D before winter days set in. Its a great way to spend quality time with your spouse and kids without distractions. With the variety of hikes most all parks offer, you can enjoy fabulous views and challenge yourself at the same time. Some of my favorite parks in north Georgia include Sweetwater Creek in Lithia Springs, Red Top Mountain in Emerson, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield in Marietta, Cloudland Canyon, and Amicalola Falls.

5. Colorful leaves are peaking a little later this year, at least in Georgia, so it’s not too late to hit the backroads for an afternoon drive. I love to put on a relaxing playlist and get away from the city. There are days my Spotify app is my best friend, especially on days I want to escape.

6. When we traveled out west this past summer we discovered a charming little town in Wyoming called Chugwater (population 200). There, in a charming soda fountain we had our first taste of Chugwater chili. It’s definitely chili season and we are enjoying making Chugwater chili in our kitchen. Check out this small company for yourself. You will not be disappointed …. and by supporting a small USA business your seasoning won’t be stuck on a cargo ship in the ocean.

7. Take some time to plan out your Thanksgiving holiday. There is no worse feeling than for the week of Thanksgiving to arrive and the stress takes over.

Are you going somewhere for the day? What are you preparing? How will you transport your dish? What will you serve it in?

Are you staying home and hosting? Are you splitting the menu or doing it all yourself? China or paper plates? What will you serve? Do you have enough serving dishes?

We are celebrating Thanksgiving with my extended family as always for Thanksgiving this year, but then my in-laws will be coming here for the weekend, which means I have to get my act together. I’ll share a few of my tips to help you organize in the next few days!

8. It’s the season for traditions. Even though we are empty nesters, we are looking forward to our annual viewing of Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving. You are never too old for Charlie Brown and this classic gives me the warm fuzzies every year!

9. Speaking of traditions, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is a favorite while at my parents every year. I adored watching it as a child, loved watching with my children and now enjoy sharing that special time on Thanksgiving morning with my nieces and nephews.

10. Finally, I’m actually looking ahead to December. This adult Advent calendar from Bonne Maman makes me look forward to breakfast the entire holiday season. Next to my own homemade jellies and jams, these are my absolute favorite! Order now because they sell out every year!

via Bonne Maman

I also ordered this fantastic devotional book from the “queen of Christmas” Candace Cameron Bure, Bring On the Merry. This interactive devotional book encourages you to pause daily during what is usually a chaotic season and remember why we celebrate the season. I found my copy on the Dayspring website, but I know Amazon has it as well.

I hope your November is off to a good start, and I hope you didn’t mind the sharing of our life update along with our plans for the season. It’s been a weird couple of years, and my goal for this year to to bring the normal. Peace, love, joy and family. That is all.

10 Things September

September has arrived and is barreling through like a freight train! I need it to slow down just a little as we are entering into my favorite season of the year and I want to enjoy every moment as much as possible. Not only do we get to celebrate the end of summer and begin decorating for autumn, I’m doing a wedding cake (its been quite a while) in just a few days, and we are just six weeks away from the arrival of our first grandbaby.

So many exciting things coming up for sure.

But, lets not get too far ahead of ourselves. First, we must enjoy September and here are ten things on my to-do list for the season.

1 – It’s not to late at all to Visit a Flower farm. Did you know 80% of American flowers are imported? It’s time we quit shopping for out of season florals and support our local flower farms. Recently I spent time at Posie Fields in Roswell and enjoyed every last minute of seeing this local flower farm in action. If you aren’t a fan of dirt and bugs, check out you local Saturday farmers market. You are sure to find a local grower there!

2 – Celebrate the end of summer with a delightful girl’s luncheon. My girlfriend Tami, recently hosted a lovely nautical themed luncheon on Lake Lanier. Decorate the table and choose food to fit your theme. If you don’t have time to “do it all” consider hiring out one or more of your party elements. Royal Tea Picnics is a local business here in Atlanta who will create the perfect scene for your next dinner. Time with friends is precious and should be treated special.

Royal Tea Parties did a fabulous job on the table decor!

3 – Attend a 9/11 Memorial near you. This year marks 20 years since our country was violently attacked by terrorists killing thousands and sending us into a war that ended with tragedies as well. We should never forget and take time to honor those who were killed or gave themselves in sacrifice. From diginified memorials to climbing stairs as many of our first responders did that day, there are plenty of ways to “Remember” the anniversary.

Kennesaw Mountain Field of Flags honoring those killed on 9/11

4 – Take a late summer hike. Get outside. It’s good for your health, both physically and mentally. Here in metro-Atlanta I love going over to Kennesaw Mountain or Sweetwater Creek to hit a trail, but my favorite trail in at Foster Falls SP in Sequatchie,Tennessee.

Beautiful Foster Falls State Park

5 – Indulge in pumpkin spice. Yes, I am one of those girls, but y’all I really do love all things pumpkin! Whether you hit up Starbucks for a cold brew or whip up you own at home, take time to savor and enjoy. Add a pumpkin cupcake or muffin for an even more delightful treat.

If you want to make your own pumpkin spice coffee check out my recipe here.

6 – Decorate for fall. Go all out with mums and pumpkins and wreaths and witches hats…. Decorate to match you home or just have fun and keep it whimsical. There are no rules to decorating for holidays; just have fun & give the neighbors reason to talk.

7 – Tis the season for the county fairs to begin! Load up and head out for an evening of rides, exhibits, and competitions while celebrating summer’s end.

Gwinnett, Georgia County Fair

8 – If you want something bigger than the county fair, head down to Walt Disney World and Epcot for the Food & Wine Festival. Purchase a gift card to make life easier (cashless and touch-free) and enjoy delectable tastes from Around the World throughout the park! You might find a new taste you enjoy or inspiration to be creative in your own kitchen.

9 – I’m loving Bath & Body Works Sweater Weather candle. It’s still fairly hot in Georgia, but when I light a couple of candles and fix a cup of tea … I feel fall in the air!

10 – Lastly, take time for tea (or coffee). We stress ourselves out so easily with busyness, news, and the like so take time to unwind, gather your thoughts and relax. I’m loving Tevana’s Lavender Citrus tea. Add a little fresh lavender and honey to your cup and curl up with a good book. No one can take away your stress but yourself. Take time to do things to create peace in your life.

I found my Tevana at our local Ingles … and for a delightful read, pick up a copy of Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell

What is on you agenda for September? Let me know in the comments!

10 Things August

Would someone please explain to me how it is August already?  I know I’ve been absent on the blog (I stay much more active on my social media), but where has this year gone?

In an effort to share a few going-ons in our life, I thought I would share ten things that I’m loving right now as well as give you an idea into our year!  Who knows, maybe this will become a permanent addition to the blog.

 1. It’s farmer’s market season and I love visiting our little local, Saturday market here in Cartersville.  Audley & I do very little grocery shopping during the summer, choosing to focus on supporting local farmers and small businesses.  If you have a chance, check out your own local markets.  Eliminate the middle man and find much better quality food to enjoy!

2. Hit the outdoors and enjoy a waterfall hike.  Our health is one of the most precious things we have, and it’s up to us to protect and nourish our health.  One way to do this is get outside more, taking in natural Vitamin D, breathing in fresh air, and exercising our body, both internal and external.  The North Georgia Mountains are abundant with waterfalls to choose from, but I’m sure there is one near you as well.

Helen, Georgia

3. One of my resolutions this year was to dig a little deeper into Bible Study.  I am loving Candace Cameron Bure’s devotional books geared towards women.  From dealing with our own brokenness that we often don’t want to face, to discovering power in kindness, these little studies are simple yet impactful.  I found my copies on Amazon and  Dayspring and they are definitely worth investing in.

4. Another resolution I had for this year was to write more personal notes and remembering to send cards.  This beautiful stationary from American Stationary really makes that goal easy, as I love the beautiful colors and textures of the paper.  

5. Graphic tee-shirts for all occasions are all the rage right now, no matter your age.  I love these cute shirts from Kelley & Co.  Of course when your daughter is Kelley & Co you can’t help but love her work as well!  Check her out on Facebook or Instagram

Less News, More Nature
Girls trip anyone?

6. I have 6 pounds of fresh huckleberries arriving  tomorrow, so its time for a little jam session.  Huckleberries aren’t native for us here in Georgia, but hopefully the ones arriving from Idaho will satisfy my craving for this sweet berry!

7. Head out one Saturday morning to catch sunrise on the lake/river/creek/secluded field with someone special.  A thermos of coffee, fresh donuts, and a blanket are all you need for this inexpensive but romantic date.  Audley and I love taking our canoe out for sunrise, but believe me, a blanket and viewing point are all your need!

8. From Kindergarten on I’ve maintained a summer reading list every year.  I may not earn a free personal pan pizza or tickets to an Atlanta Braves baseball game any longer, but the satisfaction of finishing another great read is great in itself!  This summer I’ve finished Mary Kay Andrews The Newcomer, The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House by Adrian Tinniswood, When the Astors Owned New York by Justin Kaplin, The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters by Nancy Schoenberger and Sam Kashner, Below Stairs by Margaret Powell, and The Glitter & The Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt.  I also purchased several books about Laura Ingalls Wilder while on our road trip (see my social media) last month that I can’t wait to dive into.

9. Summer gardens are at their peak and even beginning to fade away, so now is the time to plan and organize your fall garden/container gardens with cooler weather vegetables.  Start your seeds for sugar peas, collard greens, brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach, parsley and the like for fresh veggies through the next season.  Hopefully some of the summer heat will begin to loosen its grip soon and help make for a productive winter. 

10. Finally, if you don’t know already, I’m going to be a grandmother in just two months!  It’s a girl!  I’ve spent several weekends up in South Carolina helping Gracie and Michael pull together the nursery this summer using paint and *gasp* wallpaper.  The color scheme is just beautiful and I’m loving this gorgeous mural from Photowall that pulls everything together.  It adds so much color and personality to this sweet room.  I can’t wait to see everything completely arranged after her showers.

I hope August is full of simple pleasures and you find joy in the small things as we roll through the last days of summer!