What’s Up Wednesday: September 2020

I totally meant to have this finished and scheduled to post before we left for Tennessee…but then life 😉 I had so much to do to get ready for our trip so I didnt get to finish up this post. So here we are! Already in October but going to take a quick look back at September and what’s going on this week…

WHAT WE’RE EATING THIS WEEK:

I made this chart and laminated it so my boys would know exactly what they are having for breakfast and snacks throughout the week. It has really helped to stop the arguments about what is for snack (as my youngest always wants bars!). I use a dry erase maker and write everything out for the week and then can just wipe clean at the end of the week!

I am making Mixed Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna from Thug Kitchen, Pumpkin Chili from Thug Kitchen and Butternut Squash Enchiladas (again!) from ____. In addition, I am making homemade marina gar, nut cheese, pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins from Danielle Walker’s cookbooks.

Usually Saturday morning are for pancakes! I shared these delicious pancake recipe a couple weeks ago and this is what I make on the weekends. If you missed it, here they are again:

Purple Power Pancakes

A dear friend of mine created a version of this nutritious recipe for her family after needing to use a bunch of fresh berries that she and her family picked at a local farm. These pancakes are delicious and full of wonderful, healthy ingredients that your family is sure to LOVE! I have adapted this … Read More

WHAT I’M REMINISCING ABOUT:

I wish we could’ve really celebrated my grandmothers birthday in September, but we did a little porch celebration instead and brought her a homemade carrot cake. We had another lake day with friends which was so much fun! I will definitely miss our lake days and looking forward to next summer!

Locally every year, the Heard Museum has a special animatronic dinosaur trail and we love going! We spent a couple hours one afternoon in September walking the trails and enjoyed the day outside in nature! We also took the boys to a local skate park and they tried their bikes on the BMX trail there, too. My oldest said he likes the “concrete” better than the BMX trail..but this momma likes the soft dirt more than the concrete! Haha!

WHAT I’M LOVING:

I haven’t worn perfume in YEARS (hello stay-at-home-mom!) and so after I dashed into Sephora for more foundation, I asked the gentlemen to help me find a perfume…and he did not disappoint!! I am LOVING my new perfume: Juliette Has a Gun. I got the travel size to start and see if I really do like it! The scent is kind of woodsy and not overwhelming. Its different in a good way and I love it!!

WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO:

Unpacking and washing clothes! Haha! The joys of coming home from vacation! 😉

Other than that, I am editing articles for the November issue of Frisco STYLE Magazine and setting up photography appointments, working on all the miscellaneous writings for the issue and homeschooling the boys. Getting back into the groove of things pre-vacation!

WHAT I’M WORKING ON:

November issue of FSM! October is out and it is gorgeous and I am so proud of all of our hard work! Now we enter the holiday season and it is going to be so much fun!! We have holiday gift guides, a highlight of Frisco Purple Heart recipients, amazing recipes and so much more!! I can’t wait to share it all with you!

WHAT I’M EXCITED ABOUT:

October is my favorite month for a lot of reasons: 1) It starts cooling down and leaves start changing and ALL the pumpkins! 2) Its our wedding anniversary month! 3) Its my birthday month!!

So much fun in one month and I always love October 🙂

WHAT I’M WATCHING/READING:

We are a bit late jumping on the Alone bandwagon but I am hooked!! We have watched 5 episodes in two nights and we are here for it!! It is so interesting and I would NEVER survive in the wilderness! Haha!

Anyone have any favorites?? We haven’t watched any past seasons but this current season Donny has been a favorite, Ray, and Brady.

And my absolute favorite is BACk!!

Anyone else LOVE this show?!? It is so perfect to have on while doing other things, but I am also so glued to the TV to see what they are creating! LOVE my Brits!

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO:

While we were road tripping’ to Tennessee, I listed to the podcast Mom Struggling Well and absolutely LOVED these two podcasts and highly recommend you go take a listen:

WHAT I’M WEARING:

Every fall I look forward to busting out this adorable booties (but I desperately need a pedicure!!). I missed getting dressed up on vacation so my first day back into the office, I took the opportunity to put on my lashes and actually get ready!

I am loving this easy tee from Old Navy and this cute belt. And my Vince Camuto open toe booties I snagged on Nordstrom Rack a few years back.

My lipgloss/lipstick is a mix of colors – the LimeLife Enduring Lip Color in S’Mores and gloss is Too Faced Show Me Your Coconuts. And my lashes are KISS: Charm.

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND:

It is our wedding anniversary so we are going to celebrate!! Not sure what the plans are yet, but we will do something to celebrate! It is also going to be quite warm so we are going to take the boat out one day this weekend. Who knows…it may be our last time out so we are taking advantage of every warm weekend we have left 🙂

WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH:

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving with the family , more football games (come on ‘Boys! Don’t disappoint me this season!) and taking the boys to different “fall” activities, like the Arboretum and pumpkin patch.

WHAT ELSE IS NEW:

Not much else! My hubby is looking to take our oldest on a camping weekend soon so trying to find a place that has availability (everything is booked!) and today going to get some pumpkins and mums to decorate our home. We are going to move a few things around in thehouse and convert rooms to better suit us, but all in due time. Just working on house projects here and there.

That’s it for September!! Check back in Friday for another Tennessee recap (no Friday Favorites, sorry!) and I hope you all have a blessed Wednesday!


Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 2 (Days 3 & 4)

Day 3: Grotto Falls; Place of a Thousand Drips; Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster

Monday, September 28, 2020

Another gorgeous morning in the mountains! Seriously the BEST VRBO we have stayed in!

We decided to hike Grotto Falls and it was a much easier hike than the previous day (to see Part 1 of my recap, click here).

The Grotto Falls hike was a bit more crowded than the Spruce Flat Falls hike and we passed quite a few people on the trail. AllTrails states:

Grotto Falls Trail is a 2.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is best used from April until November.

After Spruce Flat Falls, I would say this trail is easy! 😉 All of the comments on AllTrails is that the trail is more of a walk than a hike and is crowded, which I agree. Either way, it was still a beautiful hike and can’t beat getting out in the woods and ending with a waterfall!

The longest part of our walk was from the car to the trail! Haha, not really but we had to park so far away!

We made it to the trail! Now 1.4 miles to the falls and then 1.4 back! Plus 10 to the car! Haha! 😉

Clark was giddy walking under the waterfall! He was jumping up and down and was so excited!

We walked under the falls and found a little spot to sit and had some snacks before turning around and going back to the car.

Clark was being very dramatic! 😉 Anytime we would pick him up he would act like he is asleep! And so many people that we passed commented on how he was asleep and how cute…sneaky kiddo!

We made it out! Now to hike to the car!

The next stop was the Place of a Thousand Drips and you don’t even have to hike to see it! We drove right by and there was a little parking spot off to the side, so we parked and walked over to this gorgeous spot! And perk: no hiking involved! 😉

By now we were all hungry for a late lunch! As we drove back to our cabin, we stopped in Gatlinburg and ate at Tom & Earl’s Back Alley Grill. The boys loved watching the cars go by from the patio!

After lunch, the boys got to pick their own ice cream at Kilwin’s Chocolates and I was so envious! Their ice cream and sweet treats looked incredible!! Clark picked the mint chocolate chip and Troy picked the Superman. Looked soooooo yummy!!

After filling up on lunch and ice cream, we drove back towards our cabin but stopped at the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. Y’all! It was so much fun!! Clark rode with Stephen and Troy rode with me and it was the most expensive 7 minute ride! Haha! BUT it was so much fun and I would highly recommend riding the coaster with your kids! They still talk about it and asked to go on it again and again. We didn’t get any pictures because we didn’t want to loose our phones, but here are a few pictures from their Facebook page:

We walked right up and got on immediately…no wait! We went at around 4pm and there was only a few other groups that arrived as we finished.

After the ride we headed back to our cabin on the mountain and Stephen grilled burgers and we watched another gorgeous, smoky sunset!

Day 4: Loudon & Vonore Drive

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

It was a rainy day in the Pigeon Forge area so we decided to drive out to Loudon and Vonore to see the rivers and eat lunch out on a golf course. We debated renting a boat for the day in Vonore but it was just too chilly so we just enjoyed the drive instead.

Well, that is it for days 3 and 4!

Check back in Friday for Part 3! Until then, have a blessed Wednesday!!


Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 1 (Days 1 & 2)

I should forward this with a note that this was a trip…not a vacation…because let’s be real…if the kids are going, it’s a trip! 😉 Haha! We were told that from a friend a few years ago and it always stuck with us because it is so true!! You can’t fully relax with kids in tow but it is ok! I absolutely love taking them on trips and experiencing new things through their eyes! The memories made are so worth every moment and I will cherish this trip forever! I will take trips with them anyway! 🙂 And we all absolutely LOVED visiting Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains stole our hearts!

Day 1: Travel Day

Saturday, September 26, 2020

We left our home in Texas bright and early at 4:45am! Obviously the boys were ready!

I packed breakfast, lunch and snacks for all of us, along with all the movies, games, coloring books and a little bit of homeschool work to work on during the drive. We managed really well and only stopped a couple of times.

One of our stops was in Nashville to visit the Parthenon. It was crowded and we didn’t go in, but it was a nice stopping point to stretch our legs and walk around outside. The grounds at the Parthenon are beautiful and the boys liked viewing the building.

We got back on the road and drove all the way to our cabin in the mountains, but picked up pizza for the boys for dinner at Geppettos Italian Restaurant on our way.

Our cabin did not disappoint!! The drive is something to remember and our little minivan made the step vertical trek quite well!

We arrived just before sunset and enjoyed the view before eating and taking showers…then we all climbed into bed and got some rest after the long day of driving!

Day 2: Spruce Flat Falls & Cades Cove

Sunday, September 28, 2020

The next morning we woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to tackle our first day in Tennessee!

I placed a Kroger pickup order and after breakfast (I packed pancake mix since I knew we wouldn’t have groceries yet), the hubs trekked down the mountain to grab our groceries for the week. Once he returned, we loaded up and hit our first trail: Spruce Flat Falls.

AllTrails states:

Spruce Flats Falls Trail is a 1.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Townsend, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is accessible year-round. Although short, this route includes some steep rocky sections that may require a bit of climbing.

A lot of comment on AllTrails states that Spruce Flat Falls is “a very hard trail and should be considered hard not moderate,” as well as “shorter trail and was more challenging but the end of the trail is totally worth it…the waterfall at the end is beautiful!”

I have to agree…this trail was definitely the hardest one we did as it was more of an incline, lots of slippery rocks and roots and very narrow trail in some spots.

We did purchase good hiking boots for all of us…kids included! I got the boys these cute boots from Carter’s and these for myself and so glad we did! We could not imagine hiking in regular sneakers as the arches of our feet were sore (even in tough hiking boots!) on some trails because of all of the rocks. We kept our hiking shoes in the car and swapped out our sneakers and boots whenever we needed.

Spruce Flat Falls was a gorgeous hike and we loved it! The boys even got in the freezing water and swam for a bit!

I packed lunches for us and so glad we did! We hiked to the waterfall, boys swam then dried them off and got them warm again and ate lunch on a rock overlooking the mountain.

After lunch, we hiked the remainder of the way back to the car and then drove to Cades Cove and drove the loop, stopping a couple of times to get out and check out the old, historic homes. Here is some info about Cades Cove:

The valley has a rich history. For hundreds of years Cherokee Indians hunted in Cades Cove but archeologists have found no evidence of major settlements. The first Europeans settled in the cove sometime between 1818 and 1821. By 1830 the population of the area had already swelled to 271. Cades Cove offers the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in the national park. Scattered along the loop road are three churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses, and many other faithfully restored eighteenth and nineteenth century structures. Pick up the self-guiding tour booklet available at the entrance to the loop road for information about the buildings you’ll see in the cove and the people who lived here.

https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/cadescove.htm

On our way home, Stephen picked up some moonshine cherries from Tennessee Shine Co. in Sevierville. One night he mixed it with sprite and he said that was delicious! I have to take his word for it! 😉

The sunsets at our cabin are incredible! We have so many pictures from the same exact spot…but we couldn’t help it!

Well, that is it for Day 1 and 2 of our Smoky Mountain Tennessee Trip! Check back Wednesday for days 4-6 recap, including our hike to Grotto Falls and a very unique one-of-a-kind experience…

See you all back here then! Have a wonderful Monday, friends!