Hiking Providence Canyon State Park

I often hear people complain how hard it is to lose weight.

Let me tell you, losing 100 pounds was easy!

What’s actually hard is maintaining weight loss and not slipping back into ages old habits! It’s so easy to have a cheat meal here or there that becomes weeks of poor nutrition, to become disillusioned or bored with the gym, discover a new series on Netflix, or decide to take a little break because we can just jump right back in.

Believe me, I struggle with this a lot, and since moving to Atlanta two years ago it’s been a continual struggle as I emotionally ate my way through the move, MacKenzie’s wedding, Bradley’s enlistment, and now sheer boredom and loneliness has become my worst enemy. Thankfully I have an amazing husband who has dove into his own fitness journey and is now my “let’s get off the couch” motivator.

hiking Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

My handsome Spartan running motivator.

For the first time in years Audley is working 40 hours a week… a Monday-Thursday schedule. It’s so nice, but it didn’t take long for us to go stir crazy in the house on his off days. While scrolling through Instagram one day I saw pictures of this gorgeous location right here in Georgia; Providence Canyon.

Providence Canyon State Park / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

We decided to take a short road trip and get our rear ends off the sofa and away from the pantry.

Located about 2 1/2 hours south of Atlanta, Providence Canyon is actually the result of poor farming practices 200 years ago (many lessons learned), but it’s also a beautiful location for picnicking, exploring, and photographing.

in the base of Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

The stunning red, white, purple and pink sandstone walls that form the canyon might have you thinking you’ve gone out west, but I promise, you’re still in the South!

The canyon makes a gorgeous backdrop for hiking and exploring.

Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Hiking Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

There are roughly 10 miles of trails you can hike throughout the beautiful canyon. These various hikes range from easy to moderate in difficulty. Choose wisely for your level of fitness and health.  Each can take a couple of hours to five or more. You’ll be amazed at the different scenery as you wander through the canyon. One minute you’re in a lush forest and the next sandy desert. It’s a beautiful result from costly mistakes generations ago.

Overlooking Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Providence Canyon Wooded Trails / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

When hiking Providence Canyon you need to prepare accordingly. First, this is a state park, so there is a $5 fee to park. If you purchase a Georgia State Parks pass you can find all kinds of adventures throughout the state and only pay once! While strolling around the top of the canyon is relaxing and easy, going into the canyon is a little different. The grounds throughout the area are sandy and wet. Trails take you down and up hills, through forest areas and into various rocky fingers of the many canyons. Wear appropriate shoes for these trails; shoes made for hiking and that you don’t mind getting muddy and wet are best. Smalls steams of water flow all through the canyon floor. You also need water for drinking. Once down in the canyon there are no bathrooms or water fountains. We packed a small backpack with bottles of water.

And don’t forget bug repellant.  Mosquitos love wetlands.

Hiking Necessities / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Our lightweight Kavu bag holds several bottles of water and snack packs of nuts for a trail hike. Audley is partial to his Salomon trail shoes, and I love my Merrells. Shop for hiking/trail shoes that fit your feet well and work for various weekend adventures. Protecting your feet is so important if you are going to hike!

Hike Providence Canyon / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Dress comfortably for your hike. I wore leggings and a tee-shirt even-though it’s hot, just because of their water wicking ability. You don’t want blisters on your thighs from hiking and sweat rolling down your legs. It is NOT comfortable. Wearing pants also leaves less places for mosquitos to nail ya.

There is a longer hike through the canyon that you will need to pack snacks as well as extra water to take as it is pretty long. We plan to go back and do that one in the fall.

Canyon Floor at Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

img_6459canyon bottom at Providence Canyon / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Nature at Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Providence Canyon Lumpkin, GA / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Audley and I hiked over five miles in and around the canyon, then enjoyed a yummy picnic up on the rim.

Providence Canyon Picnic / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Providence Canyon was one time a thriving town. Remnants can be found throughout the park including an old wooden Methodist church building and cemetery dating back to the mid-1800’s. There are also old rusted out cars along the trail up to, but we didn’t explore that area to see them. We will definitely add that to our hike in the fall.

Providence Mothodist Church / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Providence Cemetery / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Cemetery at Providence Canyon / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Providnce Canyon Cemetery / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Methodist Church Building / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

If you are looking for a quick weekend adventure and an opportunity to get off the couch, a trip to Providence Canyon is definitely worth making! I won’t say hiking is a way to lose weight, but it’s a great way to explore where you live (statewide or regionally), get in some fresh air, and get moving!

Being sedentary is hazardous to your health.

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Hooray for gorgeous days and beautiful places!!!

Enjoy the views and let me know what you think!

Looking down onto Providence Canyon Trails / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Providence Canyon State Park

8930 Canyon Road
Lumpkin, GA 31815
Stewart County

 

Summer with McDonald’s & Southern Belle Farm

Peach season is in full swing here in Georgia and I’m super excited! Honestly I look forward to peach season every year, and can not wait to savor that first juicy bite each summer! Over the weekend Tammie (Talking with Tami) and I ventured down to Southern Belle Farm to check out McDonald’s new summer treat: a sweet peach slushie!

McDonald's Peach Slushie / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Limited time this July sweet treat from McDonalds

Available for a limited time in July you should definitely take the kids through the drive thru for this peachy taste of summer because we all need something refreshing as this heat wave rolls on!

Peach Slushie from McDonalds / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

You’re a peach!

The event with McDonald’s at Southern Belle Farm was so enjoyable. Y’all know I’m a country girl at heart so I enjoyed every moment we spent on the farm. This beautiful place is operated by the 5th generation of the Carter family in Henry County, Georgia.

Silos at Southern Belle Farm / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Once a dairy farm, Southern Belle Farm is now a gorgeous picture of agriculture here in Georgia and a huge proponent of agritourism in the state. Supporting local farms and business is something I’m truly passionate about. Let’s face it y’all, our nation was built by farmers, and they are who keep us fed today! I love Georgia is promoting agritourism and definitely enjoy the fruits and veggies that have been locally raised.

Southern Belle Farm tour / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Daniel from SBF explaining the best peaches to pick

Southern Belle Farm / Of Fiddle Dee Dee

Growing peaches, berries, muscadines and corn, the farm is open for u-pick as well as maintaining a market filled with fresh produce, delicious jams and jellies, the best peach cobbler and homemade ice cream you’ve ever put in your mouth!

Southern Belle Farm Market / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Tammie and I were able to pick our own peaches on Saturday as well as tour the farm via hayride.

Southern Belle Farm Peaches / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Picking Peaches / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Peach Picking at Southern Belle Farm / Of Fiddle Dee Dee

Talking with Tami / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Picking Peaches / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

I’m planning to whip up a little peach salsa this week and then a pie or two for Independence Day, so hang on for some recipes you’ll want to keep!

Visiting Southern Belle Farm / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Have a Peachy week y’all!!

Old-Fashioned Vanilla-Laced Blueberry Jam

Summer is passing quickly, but thanks to a little time in the kitchen we’ll be enjoying some of our favorite summer flavors well into winter!

Preserving food has nearly become a lost art as the busyness of life has consumed every aspect of our being, but there is something so simple about slowing down, diving into traditions of the past, and savoring simple flavors all year long.  Making jams and jellies, canning fresh veggies; these are things that remind me of my childhood and my mother spending hours a day all summer putting away fresh food we could enjoy all year long.  She still does this and I love being able to have that bit of her in myself, even if so many think it’s out-of-date or old-fashioned.

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I would much rather savor old-fashioned traditions with my family, than get lost in the sad hustle and bustle of this modern world.  Y’all, we all need a little old-fashioned goodness in our lives to keep us sane and connected to all the amazing women in our lives from generations before.

Recently, after spending an afternoon picking blueberries with Madeline at Washington Farm in Bogart, Georgia, I took the time to do more than just freeze berries for cobblers, pies, pancakes, and smoothies; I also whipped up a batch of scrumptiously rich vanilla laced blueberry jam.

There are a couple of ways to make jam, from the simple very few ingredient SureJell recipe (don’t knock it, it’s absolutely delicious), to spending just a little longer on your recipe and relying on the natural pectin in the fruit for the gelling process.  While not using pectin does take longer when making jam, the longer time is going bring really bring out the flavor of the blueberries and give you a richer tasting jam.

I’m sharing my four ingredient blueberry jam recipe today using the fresh sweet berries  we picked which were just right for this method.  All you need is sweet juicy blueberries, sugar, a whole vanilla bean, fresh lemon juice, and time to relax, pretending its a simpler time so many want to forget!

Making the jam is time consuming, but actually pretty easy.  Wash your berries using a colander so they will drain, picking out any bad ones. Transfer your drained berries to a large bowl. I use a potato masher, but you can use whatever to have to squish the berries and release their juices, then measure out the exact amount of berries you will need for the recipe and add to the stockpot you will be using to cook the jam.  This particular recipe calls for 10 cups. Add the sugar you’ve measured and toss together.  This will sit for a couple of hours.  During this time you can make sure you have all your jar sterilized and the equipment you need to preserve the jam ready to go.

After a couple of hours you will begin to cook the mixture on medium-high heat.  During this process you’ll slice open the vanilla bean and scrape it into the blueberry mixture, and throw the bean itself in as well! The cooking requires your full attention as the jam comes to a boil, so do not leave the stove and stir the pot continuously.  When it is cooked to the cosistancy you desire (anywhere from 30-45 minutes) add the lemon juice and finish cooking.

When you’ve made this delectible treat, bake up some fresh buscuits and dig in!  Youre not going to want to wait!  The complete recipe for my jam can be printed here by clicking Vanilla-Laced Blueberry Jam.

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What are your favorite things to preserve in the summer months?

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Georgia Backroads: BJ Reece Orchard

After a long, hot summer, autumn is the perfect opportunity to venture outdoors and enjoy the cooler temperatures.  Of course here in the South it just means it’s 90 degrees instead of 98, but we still look forward to the seasons change.  Throughout our marriage Audley and I have found many things to do to enjoy the fall and relish a little us time.  From hayrides and pumpkin patches to NASCAR races, the fall is our favorite season to venture out for time outdoors.  We hit the road this last weekend with a road trip on some of Georgia’s backroads into the North Georgia mountians and an apple orchard for a little apple picking!

While we’ve visited apple orchards over the years, this was the first time either of us had ever actually picked apples!  We couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful day, and to top it off, Granny Smith apples are in season!

BJ Reece Apple House & Orchards are located off of Hwy 52 in Elijay, just a two hour drive from Atlanta.

Little did we know apple picking was such a popular activity as the orchard was very busy.  Since I’m planning several things to do with my apples, we paid our $5 admission and then paid for the large bags for apple picking where most everyone else seemed to be there for the novelty and the extra activities around the orchard for the family…. not that there is anything wrong with that!

Finding the best apples was a challenge and like an egg hunt as we are a month into apple season, so many of the trees have been picked over!  Using the map of the orchard, we found a group of Granny Smith trees that had not been hit as hard, and loaded our first bag.  Besides snacking, I love to cook with these tart apples.  We also gathered Golden Delcious apples and Rome Beauties.  Using a variety of apple flavors (tart, sweet, etc,,,) makes cooking with them so delicious.

Strolling through the maze of apple trees, guessing varieties while we walked along was really enjoyable as we were able to talk and take pleasure in each other’s company without the interruptions of work and home. Cell service is spotty, so there were no interruptions from our grown kids either!  It’s outage season in the power plant construction industry, so any time we have to ourselves is treasured and very valuable.  Audley was able to leave work behind as we laughed and even acted silly as we picked apples. These are the moments we value and have helped keep our marriage of 23 years strong.

There were several family related activities around the farm from a zipline over the apple orchard to pig racing, but since we were on a date, we chose to skip those things.

Before you plan a trip to an orchard in the fall, remember a coupe of things:

{There were quite a few things I observed}

**Prepare for it to be busy and be patient,  Apple picking is a novelity and many parents bring their kids out to participate which can make for a little chaos.  There will be a line to get into the orchard as well as to check out in the Apple House.  Be kind and patient; it’ll make the day go so much more smoothly.

**Pick only the apples that are in season.  You can always call ahead to make sure your favorite apples are ready so that you don;t arrive and find yourself disappointed at the selection.

**Don’t take a bite off of an apple and then throw it down; this goes for your children as well.  I was truly disappointed in the amount of waste we saw. Juicy apples on the ground are a welcome mat for yellow jackets.  They will rot quickly and stink badly.

**Also remember to throw your trash away in the waste receptacles.  No one wants to walk through your mess.  Leave the orchards well kept for people to enjoy for years to come.

**I’ve never been a perfect parent, but there is a certain level of respect you should have for others around you when you are out with your children.  Please keep your kiddos under control as you spend the day at the orchard.  It’s not your personal backyard, a playground in a park, or even a zoo.  Children running wide open can cause calamity as older people also visit the orchard; it would be horrible for someone to fall because your kids are fighting or running willy nilly!

**Oh yeah, one last thing…. if there is a sign that says don’t use any ladders you might find in the orchard, it might be a good idea to keep that in mind, especially if you are wearing white jeans.

{Not that I would ever break a rule!}

While Audley and I really had fun together, if you are wanting a date without squealing, screaming and even crying children, a weekend date at the orchard may not be for you.  But, if you are pretty good at savoring any and all any activities as a couple, you’ll enjoy the orchard as much as we did!

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