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.

September 11: 20 Years Later

It’s been 20 years.

Twenty years since I dropped my oldest daughter off for school and drove home with our other three little ones.

Kennesaw Mountain Field of Flags: one for each person killed on 9/11/2001 plus 13 extra at half mast for the Marines, Sailor & Soldier killed in Kabul two weeks ago.

Twenty years since I heard the breaking news of a plane flying into Tower one of the World Trade Center as we were just minutes from our house.

Twenty years since I rushed into the house and turned on the news only to watch in horror as a plane flew into Tower Two on live TV.

Twenty years since the stories of hijacked planes rang in my ears as I hugged my three little ones.

Twenty years since a plane crashed into the Pentagon.

Twenty years since brave men and women stopped a plane from crashing into another target, but lost their lives in a field in Pennsylvania.

Twenty years since I checked my oldest out of school.

Twenty years since I called my husband nonstop while he was working out of town on a construction project. He didn’t know and I begged him to come home.

Twenty years since my daddy opened the doors of the church building and brought the community together for hours of prayer for lives lost, our nation, our government.

Twenty years since we held hands and hugged necks of strangers in our community because we were all shocked, saddened and confused.

Twenty years and my heart breaks for these families and our nation now as much as it did then. It doesn’t seem that long, yet here we are.

A lot has happened in twenty years. My babies are grown. They remember. They’ll always remember, just as I do. That day impacted their lives forever and helped mold them into the young adults they are today. They grew up in a different world than I did. We talked a lot about how the world changed after 9/11. As I said, we have not forgotten.

Unfortunately many of our nation have forgotten and we are not very United. I do not feel very secure and do not trust our government. 9/11 was tragic, but I miss 9/12.

Do you remember?

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!

A Candy Cane Christmas

It’s just thirty-two days until Christmas.

Can you believe it?!

There were times I thought this year was never going to end, and suddenly it’s Christmastime!

After this long and often stressful year, I’m really excited for the holiday season and will definitely savor every moment with our family and friends and especially the quiet, peaceful nights in with Audley.

Today, I’m teaming up with some of our favorite bloggers for the 4th Annual Christmas Tree Blog Hop hosted by Michelle from Our Crafty Mom. You’ll have the opportunity to visit 28 talented bloggers for plenty of Christmas tree decorating inspiration, so turn up the Christmas music, grab a cup of peppermint hot chocolate and get lost in Christmas inspiration galore!

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Here in our home we are crazy for candy canes.

For as long as I can remember we have decorated our home in some shape, form or fashion with a candy cane theme. It might be a tree… or two, it might be the top of my kitchen cabinets or the dining room, but ribbon or garland or ornaments or the real deal are always featured. It just “fits” us as a family.  Not only have my kids come to expect it (they would be so disappointed & try to “borrow” my decor if I didn’t), but Audley wouldn’t have it any other way!  

Are there more husbands out there who actually love decorating for Christmas?

This year the candy cane theme is adorning our living room tree. It’s our first Christmas season as empty nesters, so it is a great way to pretend the kids are close (all of them live out -of-state now).  They will all be in and out through the season … our Marine is home for Thanksgiving/Christmas leave this week … so I want them to know it’s still home when they come to visit.

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This is the second year I’ve used a flocked tree, and I really do like it.  The colors of Christmas pop and smaller ornaments stand out as well.  Besides, living in the south, this is the closest to a white Christmas we’ll get!

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From top to bottom I tried to incorporate the joy  and traditions of Christmas that are a part of our family.  We bake a lot, so there are plenty of nods to hours in the kitchen cutting out cookies, whipping icing, and indulging in fabulous holiday treats.

Audley and I tucked in ribbon and marshmallows and gingerbread and springy things all around our ornaments to create a full and festive tree.  

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Our tree incorporates twenty-six years of ornaments collected from all six states  we’ve lived in (14 moves total) to carefully chosen floral picks and ribbon plus a few whimsical elves tumbling down the side,  I can tell you just about everywhere we lived as we hang specific ornaments on the tree; lolipops from Rome, Georgia, peppermint teardrops from Clinton, Iowa, a Christopher Radko from our time in Bridgeport, Alabama, a handpainted treasure to reember our years in South Carolina and more recently a very large Mark Robert’s Elf from living in Loganville.   There are so many beautiful memories, in this candy cane themed tree.  I love how it all came together this year. 

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This year I have a sweet addition to my decor … this adorable crate created by my youngest daughter.  It’s so much fun and fits in just perfectly.

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The candy cane theme is wrapped-up (pun intended) with our presents under the tree. 

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I just love incorporating gift wrap that compliments whatever theme we are using, and Audley does a fabulous job with a lot of our wrapping!

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Buttercup seems to think it all looks perfectly delicious, and I’m a bit hungry after talking candy canes, so it’s off to grab a snack and visit all the fabulous bloggers who are sharing their holiday with us!

Check out their links below.  Be sure to leave a comment letting me know you stopped by!  I would love to hear from you.

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Christmas tree graphic (1)

 

Welcome To The Fourth Annual Christmas Tree Decor Blog Hop

Be sure to visit all the participating bloggers below for gorgeous holiday decorating ideas for your Christmas tree.

tree hop collage

Our Crafty Mom // Sustain My Craft Habit // Red Cottage Chronicles // Celebrate and Decorate

Christmas tree decor blog hop collage

Jenron Designs //  2 Bees In A Pod // Virginia Sweet Pea // From House To Home

Christmas Tree Collage

Tribe of Burton // Across the Boulevard // Intelligent Domestications // Simply Beautiful By Angela

Christmas Tree Decor

Modern on Monticello // Redneck Rhapsody // Purple Hues and Me // My Pinterventures

tree hop collage of 2Zucchini Sisters // One Thousand Oaks // Raggedy Bits // Southern Yankee DIY // Fiddle Dee Dee

Christmas tree hop

My Sweet Home Living // Pretty DIY Home // Michelle James Designs // Daily DIY Life

Christmas tree collage of four

Happily Ever After, etc. // Kippi at Home // Simple Nature Decor // Design Morsels