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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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.

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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

Trick or Treat: Caramel Apple Cocktails

Happy Halloween!

Things are a little different this year without the kids at home for this fun holiday. Trick or Treating went by the wayside years ago, but you’re never too old for a bonfire or holiday themed food with teenagers.

But here we are; our first empty nest Halloween!

And Audley and I plan to treat ourselves!

One of my favorite fall highlights is apple season. This year I didn’t get to pick my own, but I still made a trip up to my favorite north Alabama orchard with Momma. Crow Mountain really has the best apples!! It’s always fun to decide how to use them, and this year I changed it up from dessert to a delectable and over-21 grown-up Halloween treat ….

Caramel Apple Cocktails

The ingredient list is short: large apples (I love a Granny Smith) that you’ve hollowed into a “glass”, melted caramel to rim your apples, apple cider (try to find local), Crown Royal Vanilla, Ellington Reserve Salted Caramel Whisky (use airplane bottles), and brown sugar.

Wash and dry your apples, then slice the tops off and hollow out the inside of the apple. Don’t go all the way to the bottom or your cocktail “glass” will leak. I used a spoon for hollowing out the apple.

Rim the edge of your apple with melted caramel. Since you will be working around juicy apples, this works best when spooned around the edge. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Also sprinkle a little brown sugar inside the apple.

To mix the cocktail (for 2) heat 5 ounces of apple cider, then add 1.5 ounces of the caramel apple whisky, 1 ounce vanilla Crown, and stir. Pour into the apples you’ve made into glasses.

Pour into the apple glasses, garnish with a cinnamon stick and enjoy!

These take just a few minutes to prepare; keeping you in a Halloween frame of mind while toasting an empty nest!

And don’t waste your apple! When you’ve finished your drink, slice the apple to eat for a spiked caramel apple treat!

A Fall Bucket List

At last! Autumn has arrived, not only is it calendar official, but you can feel it in the air in the south! This is my favorite season and I’ve been rather impatient waiting on it to arrive this year.

Thanks to the coronapocalypse, fall is a little different this year. Audley and I are skipping football games and missing tailgating, there aren’t any county fairs or rodeos, among other things, but there is no reason to not enjoy it! We have a “bucket list” of things we are looking forward to do this season. It got me thinking Maybe I should share it in case you were at a loss of how to enjoy the season in this crazy time. Almost all of these keep social distancing guidelines in mind.

* Go for a sunrise canoe ride

* Light autumn scented candles all through the house

* Pick apples and make apple crisp

* Make all the soups

* Bake a pumpkin pie using fresh pumpkin

* Visit a pumpkin patch

* Take a drive & enjoy a little leaf peeping

* Light a fire and make s’mores

* Celebrate National Coffee day ( September 29)

* Go camping or glamping

*Watch fall & Halloween themed movies

* Carve a pumpkin

* Pull out the patchwork quilts & get cozy

* Enjoy a girl’s day or even road trip

* Take a leisurely bike ride on a scenic trail

* Drink apple cider

* Meet your spouse for a coffee date

* Decorate your porch just a little extra this year

* Star gaze

* Make & eat caramel apples

* Go hiking

* Visit Starbucks for at least one Pumpkin Spiced drink

* Plan an autumn picnic

* Run through the leaves

Being outdoors is very good for boosting your immunity system, so many of our plans involve fresh air and sunshine, even with a few cooler temperatures. Take advantage of this anytime you can in the coming months! It’ll keep your spirits up as well.

What’s on your bucket list this fall? I would love to hear what you’ve been up to!

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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