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!

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!

31 Days of Movies for October

Hello October!

Are you as excited for this new month as I am?

There is something special about the “Ber” months, especially October, November and December. It’s almost magical. My vibe, mood and attitude all improve which prompts me into celebrating all the little things this season has to offer …. even with an empty nest!

This attitude goes back a long way; 48 years to be exact.

When your Momma is a Halloween baby magical fun is always around the corner.

One of my favorite October traditions is 31 days of movies that are perfect for keeping your spirits up and setting the mood throughout the month. This isn’t Freeform’s let’s show the same movies over and over list, this is a movie a day that you can enjoy with your love, kids, neighbor’s kids, or while enjoying “me time” wrapped up in a patchwork quilt with a gourmet coffee you whipped up.

From traditional classics to a few shivers here and there, this 31 days of spirited thrills will have you excited for Halloween Night!

1. It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

2. Hocus Pocus

3. The Goonies

4. The Haunted Mansion

5. Private Eyes (a classic with Don Knotts!)

6. Edward Sissorhands

7. Beetlejuice

8. The original Ghostbusters

9. Practical Magic

10. Sleepy Hollow

11. Disney’s Halloweentown

12. Casper

13. Nightmare Before Christmas

14. Disney’s Ichabod Crane & Mr. Toad

15. ET

16. Addam’s Family

17. Hotel Transylvania

18. The Ghost & Mr Chicken (another classic)

19. Bewitched (with Nicole Kidman … cheesy but cute!)

20. Mr. Mom (1983 … just go with it)

21. Harry Potter (marathoning is highly recommended)

22. Monster House

23. The Original Friday the 13th

24. Wizard of Oz

25. Pirates of the Caribbean (believe me, it fits)

26. Twilight (Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?)

27. Sweeney Todd

28. The Corpse Bride

29. Scooby Doo (the movie)

30. The Mummy

31. Interview with a Vampire

I could go on, but if these don’t add magic and a little shiver to your October, it’s probably not your season! Obviously not all of these movies claim Halloween. The idea is to set a mood and this list will do the trick!

Many of the listed movies have sequels, so marathoning on the weekend is perfectly acceptable!

What’s your favorite October movie? I would love to hear from you!