Simple Cream Cheese Icing

Usually when the summer heats up I bow out of the kitchen or take a lot of shortcuts, but this season has been quite the opposite. From cakes and cupcakes to jams, jellies, and pickles, as well as many a lovely supper our kitchen has been quite busy!

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One of the most delicious things to leave my kitchen was cupcakes frosted with cream cheese icing. While quite tasty, I will admit they were a challenge with all this Southern heat!  Cream cheese is not a fan of heat at all.

I actually cheated when making the cupcakes by using a box mix. When I resort to box mixes Duncan Hines Butter recipe is my favorite. I use a full stick of butter for each box and it makes for deliciously light cupcakes that are normally devoured. Top with cream cheese icing and you have an easy summer delight everyone will love!

Ingredients for the icing include cream cheese (use the full fat stuff for best results), a stick of real butter, vanilla extract, powdered sugar. I’m a firm believer in using quality products to maximize flavor, so go for the grass fed butter and a reputable brand of vanilla!

The icing is quite simple to whip up. First, I blend the butter and cream cheese together until smooth, then add the vanilla and combine. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until all ingredients are blended well. Due to the heat, I usually refrigerate my icing about 30 minutes before putting it into a bag to pipe.

You can grab the entire recipe and instructions for the Cream Cheese Icing here.

Since one box of Duncan Hines cake mix generally makes 24-30 cupcakes, I double this easy cream cheese icing in order to make decorative swirls on top.

After your cupcakes are iced, dress them up with fresh berries or colorful sprinkles that fit your special occasion.

I love simple, and these cupcakes combine both the ease of a boxed cake mix and the flavor of homemade cream cheese icing will have your guests thinking you’ve spent HOURS on dessert!

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Georgia Backroads: Watson Mill Bridge State Park

Audley and I have been making plans for weekend adventures this summer since it’s mostly just the two of us.  Unfortunately there are people who were not blessed with the gift of common sense who insist on bending the rules, so Audley doesn’t always get the days off he is expecting.  The plus side to this is he always has a job when it comes to construction safety which has now run into most of our weekends.

Being ever the spontaneous people that we are, we turned our recent two days of plans into just one as we threw our empty picnic basket and a blanket into the car, made a stop at The Fresh Market, and continued with a road trip heading up Hwy 78 through Athens, Georgia to a sweet little state park.

Now, when most people think of Georgia, the traffic bogged city of Atlanta filled with people that do not know how to savor the simple things, who would rather run over you than accommodate you, mostly ignore you rather than speak, where people seem so angry and bitter and a town that seems to have forgotten its southern graces immediately comes to mind.

Y’all, I spent most of my youth here, and Southern charm and hospitality are not what comes to mind when I think of Atlanta these days!

Truth is, there is so much more to Georgia than Atlanta and it’s metro counties, and you don’t have to venture too far away to discover it! Just hit those Georgia backroads and start exploring!

Just two hours northeast of the city are beautiful farms and quaint little towns.  This is Georgia.  It is here you can escape the hustle and bustle of Atlanta and where you will find Watson Mill Bridge State Park; a 1018 acre park in Comer, Georgia.

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When Audley and I arrived at the park it was so peaceful and quiet, a true break from the craziness of metro-Atlanta!  The park attendant was probably one of the friendliest I’ve ever encountered and was eager to share this historic and picturesque piece of Georgia with us.

{Small towns y’all; that’s where that Southern hospitality thrives!}

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Watson Mill Bridge State Park is home the longest covered bridge in the state of Georgia, a bridge that spans 229 feet across the South Fork of the Broad River in 1885.  It’s one of twenty covered bridges left in Georgia, but unlike the majority of the remainder, this one sits in its original location.  The bridge is well maintained and you can walk or drive across it.  It is truly a beautiful setting!

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According to the Georgia State Parks website the bridge was built in 1885 by Washington (W.W.) King, the son of freed slave and famous covered-bridge builder Horace King.  It is supported by a “town lattice truss system held firmly together with wooden pins.”  Originally there was a mill in the area, but there are no signs of it remaining.

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Although the park is small there is plenty to do for a relaxing day away from the city.  If you are into camping, there are sites available for both tent and RV camping.  Hiking is relatively easy as you can walk down to the old power house built in 1905, but long since abandoned.   There are also trails for riding bikes and horseback riding as well.  There is a stable for boarding, but you have to bring your own horses though.

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We watched families and adults alike play on the rocks and in the water of the falls.  We even witnessed a baptism!  For the kiddos there is a nice playground, but we stayed away from those areas since the focus of the day was on us without kids. While there are plenty of tables and shelters to picnic,  Audley and I were more than content to throw our blanket down under the trees and enjoy the beauty of the falls and the covered bridge away from the small crowds that were arriving as the morning turned into afternoon.

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There is also the option to rent kayaks and canoes, or you can bring your own and put in above the covered bridge.  Rental for the park owned canoes and kayaks is just $10 for an hour and they do provide life jackets.

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Audley and I rented one of the canoes and had the upper branch of the river to ourselves for paddling.  It was quite lovely, peaceful, and quiet enough to hear so many different sounds of nature the city tends to mask!

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We truly enjoyed this piece of Georgia and Audley has already decided a weekend camping here is just what we need …. when this heat and humidity lay off!

Oh my it’s hot down here y’all!

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Sometimes you just have to sit back and let someone else do the paddling!

If you are looking to escape the city or just want to discover some of Georgia’s backroads definitely add Watson Mill Bridge State Park to your agenda.

Watson Mill Bridge State Park

650 Watson Mill Rd, Comer, GA 30629

706-783-5349

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From Veteran’s Wife & Momma to Military Mom & Empty Nester

Bradley left for Parris Island last Sunday.

This is no picnic on a beach; my son is training with the best to become a United States Marine!

Y’all, Audley & I are so proud! I’ll admit, I am a wee bit nervous. I know how hot Southern summers are; the heat index is 103° today here outside Atlanta! Can you imagine the South Carolina coast? He’s a tough kid choosing to leave this time of year. Audley went to Oklahoma for Army boot camp and then when he changed branches went through boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois for the Navy (yes, my hubby served in both; thought the Navy had better schools & made the switch), so his weather experiences were a whole lot different!!

Serving & supporting our country is very important in our family.

Leaving Day … June 10 from the recruiting center in Athens

Bradley’s going to answer to a whole new level Of authority, a level that as strict as I was on my kids, he can’t fathom! He kept telling everyone I prepared him for the DI’s.. yeah he doesn’t have a clue!

The 12 weeks he has remaining ( it’s hard to believe one has already passed!) are going to be weeks of massive transformation; he’s going to learn to make a “rack”; an epic #momfail based on the condition of his room after he left!

{Y’all it was BAD!!}

While he is transforming into a Marine, Audley & I will make the transition into empty nesters. We have never never experienced “just us”. I became a full-time Momma the day we said “I Do” and for 23 years my identity has been Audley’s wife and eventually the mom of four amazing kids! It’s kind of exciting to discover the adventures hubby and I will enjoy together without having to plan every detail around lacrosse, wrestling, band, color guard, soccer, baseball, and youth group.

Unlike so many couples who fall apart at this stage of life because they cant adjust I am sure we are going to be just fine and dive into adventures we never experienced as newlyweds! We have worked hard over the last 23 years to keep us and our marriage first so that we aren’t two strangers living together. It’s kind of exciting.

Out in a canoe at Watson Mill Bridge State Park over the weekend

Now that graduation and the busyness of the spring has passed I’m planning to do a much better job of blogging! So for those who have stuck around, thank you!! I hope my summer content inspires you to dive into adventures and enjoy where you are in life both at home and out and about!

Graduation 2K18 & the Future

For the third time in three years and fourth time overall we have celebrated another graduation in our little family.  Last weekend was so special as siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends all celebrated this youngest child of ours.

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Audley and I couldn’t be more proud of the four children we’ve raised and the young adults they have and are becoming.

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If you follow me on social media (you really ought too!), you know our Bradley has enlisted in the Maine Corps and leaves in just 6 days for boot camp at Parris Island, SC.

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This was not a decision made lightly, but one Bradley has carefully weighed and considered.  Bradley’s decision was made in part because honestly, the military is in his blood.  Audley was a Navy submariner, his grandfather in the Army national guard, his great-grandfather & that whole generation of great-great uncles on both sides of the family were in the Navy, Air Force and Army serving in WWII and the Korean Conflict, and his great-great grandfather served in WWI, with other direct descendants fighting in the Civil War and the Revolutionary War.  Service for what one believes in and in this country is in Bradley’s genes; it just comes natural.

Bradley’s decision was also made because he absolutely despises school and he realized that there was no reason to borrow or pay money to be somewhere he didn’t want to be. He isn’t interested in trade school right now either as he isn’t bent that way.  Bradley is a natural born leader, a protector, and a servant.  He desires to take care of others and a college classroom is most certainly NOT going to satisfy that need!

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I applaud his decision.  Not everyone is cut out for college, yet society (or the student loan companies) seem determined everyone needs to go!  As parents we should not make our kids into what and who we think they should be in their careers, but lead and guide them in the direction their personality and desire takes them.  Bradley has chosen service to his country; a country he is actually very proud to live in.  As a matter of fact, about 20 of his classmates have made that same decision!  They are joining the guard, the Navy, Army and a total of five will be Marines with my son; one just left for boot camp just three days after graduation!

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Some of Bradley’s friends have chosen trades.  Kudos to them!  You do NOT have to have a four-year degree to be a success in life!  Ask my husband who works with welders, steelworkers, and the like everyday and are making 6-figure salaries.

Now before you start passing judgement, I am not anti-college.  First, I have a bachelors degree (although I’ve never used it) in Public Relations and Mass Communications.  After serving six years in the Navy,  Audley, first studying to be an EMT & Paramedic (these are both license programs), now has his Master’s degree and a list of letters from professional certifications behind his name that have benefitted him greatly in his career of construction safety.  Our oldest, Samantha, has an associates in general ed which allowed her to sit for certification programs, giving her a career in the medical field that she absolutely LOVES!  MacKenzie will graduate with her bachelors next year in Exercise Science (a field which she is passionate about) and plans to sit for a couple of certifications, one allowing her to train athletes.  Madeline is also working on her 4-year degree although I’m pretty sure she’s majoring only in Lacrosse right now, but having a lot of fun on that scholarship!   Each of our children chose their own paths into adulthood, including two who married at 20 years old!  We’ve encouraged them to follow their dreams , supported them and offered guidance when we saw they needed it.

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Samantha & Justin; December 2012

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MacKenzie & Michael; June 2017

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Madeline looking fierce in white!

When I graduated college the keynote speaker made the statement that “if you don’t love the field in which you are working, get out of it and find a new path”.  Unhappiness in a career affects you not only at work, but in your personal life as well.

So here’s to you Class of 2018!  Don’t let societal peer pressure dictate which path to take.  Follow your passions and your heart into a career path you love.  Be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher.  Become a personal trainer, a welder, a photojournalist.

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Bradley with his recruiter

And if your heart says be a Marine, by all means, BE A MARINE!

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