September 11: 20 Years Later

It’s been 20 years.

Twenty years since I dropped my oldest daughter off for school and drove home with our other three little ones.

Kennesaw Mountain Field of Flags: one for each person killed on 9/11/2001 plus 13 extra at half mast for the Marines, Sailor & Soldier killed in Kabul two weeks ago.

Twenty years since I heard the breaking news of a plane flying into Tower one of the World Trade Center as we were just minutes from our house.

Twenty years since I rushed into the house and turned on the news only to watch in horror as a plane flew into Tower Two on live TV.

Twenty years since the stories of hijacked planes rang in my ears as I hugged my three little ones.

Twenty years since a plane crashed into the Pentagon.

Twenty years since brave men and women stopped a plane from crashing into another target, but lost their lives in a field in Pennsylvania.

Twenty years since I checked my oldest out of school.

Twenty years since I called my husband nonstop while he was working out of town on a construction project. He didn’t know and I begged him to come home.

Twenty years since my daddy opened the doors of the church building and brought the community together for hours of prayer for lives lost, our nation, our government.

Twenty years since we held hands and hugged necks of strangers in our community because we were all shocked, saddened and confused.

Twenty years and my heart breaks for these families and our nation now as much as it did then. It doesn’t seem that long, yet here we are.

A lot has happened in twenty years. My babies are grown. They remember. They’ll always remember, just as I do. That day impacted their lives forever and helped mold them into the young adults they are today. They grew up in a different world than I did. We talked a lot about how the world changed after 9/11. As I said, we have not forgotten.

Unfortunately many of our nation have forgotten and we are not very United. I do not feel very secure and do not trust our government. 9/11 was tragic, but I miss 9/12.

Do you remember?

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!

10 Things August

Would someone please explain to me how it is August already?  I know I’ve been absent on the blog (I stay much more active on my social media), but where has this year gone?

In an effort to share a few going-ons in our life, I thought I would share ten things that I’m loving right now as well as give you an idea into our year!  Who knows, maybe this will become a permanent addition to the blog.

 1. It’s farmer’s market season and I love visiting our little local, Saturday market here in Cartersville.  Audley & I do very little grocery shopping during the summer, choosing to focus on supporting local farmers and small businesses.  If you have a chance, check out your own local markets.  Eliminate the middle man and find much better quality food to enjoy!

2. Hit the outdoors and enjoy a waterfall hike.  Our health is one of the most precious things we have, and it’s up to us to protect and nourish our health.  One way to do this is get outside more, taking in natural Vitamin D, breathing in fresh air, and exercising our body, both internal and external.  The North Georgia Mountains are abundant with waterfalls to choose from, but I’m sure there is one near you as well.

Helen, Georgia

3. One of my resolutions this year was to dig a little deeper into Bible Study.  I am loving Candace Cameron Bure’s devotional books geared towards women.  From dealing with our own brokenness that we often don’t want to face, to discovering power in kindness, these little studies are simple yet impactful.  I found my copies on Amazon and  Dayspring and they are definitely worth investing in.

4. Another resolution I had for this year was to write more personal notes and remembering to send cards.  This beautiful stationary from American Stationary really makes that goal easy, as I love the beautiful colors and textures of the paper.  

5. Graphic tee-shirts for all occasions are all the rage right now, no matter your age.  I love these cute shirts from Kelley & Co.  Of course when your daughter is Kelley & Co you can’t help but love her work as well!  Check her out on Facebook or Instagram

Less News, More Nature
Girls trip anyone?

6. I have 6 pounds of fresh huckleberries arriving  tomorrow, so its time for a little jam session.  Huckleberries aren’t native for us here in Georgia, but hopefully the ones arriving from Idaho will satisfy my craving for this sweet berry!

7. Head out one Saturday morning to catch sunrise on the lake/river/creek/secluded field with someone special.  A thermos of coffee, fresh donuts, and a blanket are all you need for this inexpensive but romantic date.  Audley and I love taking our canoe out for sunrise, but believe me, a blanket and viewing point are all your need!

8. From Kindergarten on I’ve maintained a summer reading list every year.  I may not earn a free personal pan pizza or tickets to an Atlanta Braves baseball game any longer, but the satisfaction of finishing another great read is great in itself!  This summer I’ve finished Mary Kay Andrews The Newcomer, The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House by Adrian Tinniswood, When the Astors Owned New York by Justin Kaplin, The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters by Nancy Schoenberger and Sam Kashner, Below Stairs by Margaret Powell, and The Glitter & The Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt.  I also purchased several books about Laura Ingalls Wilder while on our road trip (see my social media) last month that I can’t wait to dive into.

9. Summer gardens are at their peak and even beginning to fade away, so now is the time to plan and organize your fall garden/container gardens with cooler weather vegetables.  Start your seeds for sugar peas, collard greens, brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach, parsley and the like for fresh veggies through the next season.  Hopefully some of the summer heat will begin to loosen its grip soon and help make for a productive winter. 

10. Finally, if you don’t know already, I’m going to be a grandmother in just two months!  It’s a girl!  I’ve spent several weekends up in South Carolina helping Gracie and Michael pull together the nursery this summer using paint and *gasp* wallpaper.  The color scheme is just beautiful and I’m loving this gorgeous mural from Photowall that pulls everything together.  It adds so much color and personality to this sweet room.  I can’t wait to see everything completely arranged after her showers.

I hope August is full of simple pleasures and you find joy in the small things as we roll through the last days of summer!

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!