6 Things to do to Prepare for a New Season

Although it is still very steamy and hot out right now, the fall and winter season is coming up sooner than you think. I don’t know about you, but I am extremely excited for cool weather. Orange and red leaves, comfortable, layers clothes, and pumpkin everything. Just like most, fall is one of my favorite times of the year, and I’m especially looking forward to it this year, after the hottest summer ever! I mean, truly – it has been almost unbearable this year. And you know what they say? When we have an insanely hot summer, we will more than likely have a very cold winter. So, it’s time to gear up and prepare for the next season – the cool weather season. Here are a few things to do in order to prepare for a new season headed our way:

Check your wardrobe

Before the cool weather hits, check your wardrobe and make sure that you are prepared for the cold weather headed our way. Start with fall and do a simple run through of your closet. Do you have transition pieces and pants that fit? Fall is easier than winter because you do not need a ton, other than some warmer items, like pants instead of shorts. Winter, on the other hand, needs a little more thought put into it. You will want to make sure that you have a good weather-proofed jacket, hat, and gloves to be safe. You will also want to think about warm and waterproof foot gear – shoes, socks, and boots, if possible. 

Get ready to embrace the pumpkin

Pumpkin patches and pumpkin carving is one of the most fun, traditional home activities and for good reason, too – you need a pumpkin for Halloween! Don’t worry though, if you are not the Halloween type, there are so many great perks you can get from carving a pumpkin such as pumpkin pie, toasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, and more. There is also awesome soup recipes that you can make with a whole pumpkin…and once it is made, fill the pumpkin with the soup. Festive AND tasty! But really, one of the best family activities that you could do this fall is by heading to North Georgia and visiting a pumpkin patch. Have fun with it! Another way to embrace the pumpkin? Pumpkin spice everything!!!! 

Change out your home decor

Now, getting out new decor is one of my favorite things about a season change! When it comes to fall specifically, it is my favorite because the decor just seems so cozy and inviting. Fall decor makes me feel like my house is cozier, more inviting, and honestly, warmer (which is needed in the colder months, anyway). If you are slacking on your fall decor pieces, head over to Home Goods – they already have fall items out on their shelves (crazy, right?). 

Meal prep like a pro

I am sure that your meal plan could use a little sprucing up. Now is the perfect time to make some freezer meals to get ready for the cooler weather, when you are not going to want to go to the grocery store every few days. Grab some frozen fall veggies, start making broths and soups to have on-hand just in case you get sick, and start thinking about warmer meals that you are going to want to make.

Spend time with loved ones

When it comes down to it, the best part of this beautiful fall weather is the fact that you get to spend time with the ones that are important to you outdoors. Grab a few chairs, enjoy the weather, and sit outside and just talk, eat, drink, and have time. Ultimately, this is what life is all about, right?

Do a goal check-in

Last but not least, do a goal check-in and then find ways to get back on track, or progress even further towards reaching those goals. If you’re anything like me, you need a “tribe” or support team to help you through. If one of your goals is getting in better shape, make sure you find a gym that has that support team to help you. Places such as CrossFit Solid Orange are committed to not only great workouts that are fun and effective, but also creating a community, which is so important. This Murfreesboro Crossfit Gym has everything that you need to be successful and reach your goal of getting into shape.

Guest post by Alex Berger

Cheesy Pound Cake for Mother’s Day

After 5 1/2 weeks of many hours and lots of labor, our sweet new home is coming together into our forever dream.

Of course, when you have twenty-seven years of magazine articles in a notebook and Pinterest boards detailing home and garden plans it does come together rather quickly, much to Audley’s chagrin.

Even though we have been crazy busy around here, we have still managed to welcome spring and celebrate all the little things from Easter to birthdays and tomorrow, we will be hosting Mother’s Day here at our new home.

When deciding what I should prepare, I went way back into my archive of hand-written recipes that I began back in college and pulled out one of my favorites; a cheesy poundcake from Southern Living around 1994.

It’s probably one of my favorite pound cake recipes as well as one that is so versitle. With ingredients like sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese, all the butter and real vanilla this pairs well with coffee, berries, a chocolate sauce, a lemon cream, or cranberries soaked in a sweet red wine.

My favorite way to enjoy this cake though, is still warm from the oven, with fresh plain strawberries and slightly sweetened homemade whipped cream. The flavors pair so well together and with all the sugar in the cake (it IS a pound cake after all), you don’t need to add any more.

So let’s gather some ingredients.

You’ll need 1 1/2 cups of butter, 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, 3 cups of sugar, 6 large eggs, 3 cups all-purpose flour, salt, 2 cups finely shredded cheese (this recipe is SO much better if you shred it yourself. Trust me), and 1 Tablespoon high quality vanilla.

{I never said this recipe was healthy.}

While baking this recipe in a Bundt pan is perfectly fine and definitely less work in the kitchen, I used a flower cakelet pan from Williams Sonoma for my pound cakes just for aesthetics and a cuteness factor.

After baking, I trimmed the bottoms so that the cakes would set flat. That is Audley’s favorite part of baking, because he is a crust kinda guy. As I said my favorite way to enjoy this cake is with strawberries, so that is definitely the way we’ll be serving it up!

I’ll add the entire recipe in just a sec., but I would love to hear your Mother’s Day plans!

Check out this rich and scrumptious recipe below and have a fabulous weekend!

Welcome Back

“Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out
Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about”

To say we have been rather busy lately is quite an understatement.

You see, fifty-seven days ago, I was playing around on Realtor.com just as I have for the last several years, pondering the possibilities of the many listings that were up at the moment, when something caught my eye.

I mean something REEEE-ally caught my eye.

So, I did something that I had never done in all my years of looking; with Audley’s guidance I reached out to a VA lender for a preapproval.

“Well the names have all changed since you hung around
But those dreams have remained and they’ve turned around”

Fifty-five days ago, we canceled our weekend plans and took a little road trip into Alabama. There, we looked at two houses. One was trashed and definitely showed what a little staging for the internet can do. The other was nearly perfect; close to everything we had in mind for a home.

“Who’d have thought they’d lead ya
Back here where we need ya”

Fifty- four days ago we made an offer on a house, wrote an earnest money check, and the very next day it was accepted.

We were under contract with “closing in thirty-five days.”

{GULP}

Thirty-one days ago, I accepted a position to teach pre-k in a newly established Christian Academy this coming autumn.

Twenty-four days ago, we met with our realtor in the small town of Scottsboro, Alabama to close, and at the same time became first time homeowners.

“Yeah we tease him a lot ’cause we got him on the spot, welcome back
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back…”

Fourteen days ago, we moved to Stevenson, Alabama, just 3 miles from where Audley grew up and where we moved away from almost exactly ten years ago.

“…And I know what a scene you were learning in
Was there something that made you come back again”

There is a lot to the hows, whys, and whats of all this, but the Reader’s Digest version is Audley changed industries back in December and works from home, when he is not traveling. After nearly 27 years of moving with power company and paper mill construction, we have been given the opportunity to control our own path.

“And what could ever lead ya
Back here where we need ya”

Our “First” Home

We decided the time was right to purchase a home, but with the market what it is, this was not so easy. We looked near Atlanta (where we had been living). We looked in South Carolina (to be near our grandbaby). We looked in Tennessee. We looked in Alabama. But we weren’t serious until the right property became available. We really wanted out of the city, we wanted property, preferably not new construction, and a ranch style. We wanted character and potential. Something move-in ready that we could add our own spin on to turn into our home.

Who knew where it would lead us?!

The craziness, busyness, chaotic mess of the last fifty-seven days was an answered prayer in so many ways, especially with the ease of purchasing our first home. We stayed within our budget, worked with a great realtor and lender, and found what I hope is our forever home!

Back Porch Views

And the song lyrics scatter throughout my post? As we were driving on I-24 with a moving van, our pups and kitty I was listening to a 70’s station on Spotify. The theme song to “Welcome Back Kotter” by John Sebastion began playing on the radio. I laughed as I thought back to all the times we’ve left this area to chase our dreams, only to return.

“Yeah we tease him a lot ’cause we got him on the spot, welcome back
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back”

God sure does have a sense of humor.

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.