Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Shovel Serenity

Today was the perfect day to visit my friend on her farm. She's been posting the dreamiest pictures on Facebook-roaming chickens, a quaint pond, family farming boots, and the cutest brown calf.  I invited myself out there, which turned into a big party where a bunch of moms and children were going to visit. The weather is a bit warmer today, and the colors on the trees are brilliant. Party. Warm weather. Bunch of kids at the farm. What could be more perfect? Except I backed out last night. I needed a day where I didn't have to be anywhere at a certain time. I wanted a morning of relaxed playing with my kids. 

We made it outside about 11 o'clock to play for a bit. Everything was normal: Fern set up her chairs side-by-side, just her style, and Burl got straight to work. 

Here's some advice that I've received from several different moms: kids need a special place in the yard where they can dig a big whole. (Just don't pull a Meg-a mistake and pick the rockiest spot in the yard to the point that the kids need you to do most of the work.)

Within a few minutes, the kids got wild and Burl said he was too hot for a shirt and Fern followed suit. I took it as a sign that staying home was a good idea. 

Burl has big plans for this whole. It's about 4 inches deep, and he's already turning it into a run-and-jump in it game. It's going to blow his mind when we get it "bigger ever."

One day of not being anywhere and I'm relaxed and recharged and basically fixed. And, I got a long stretch of time to play with my kids when they were in charge of the playing, and that is something I'm always wanting to happen but can't always fit in. 

While I kept thinking about the fun that my friends were having, I knew that staying home to dig in the dirt was the best decision that I made this week. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Buffalo & Longhorns

I spent this misty, foggy, dreary morning at Eagles Rest Ranch. I laughed, I got dirty with manure, and I was blown away at a simple gator ride through the woods. I'm fighting the urge to go into detail about every minute that we spent there, but I have a few things that I would like to share:

First, if you want to visit Eagles Rest Ranch, then contact the name on the website. This place has buffalo, Angus cows, longhorns, a huge equestrian program (they have therapy sessions for kids everyday), 400 acres that go to the top of Lookout Mountain, a 200 year old cabin, a pond with canoes, a playground, spots for camping, and a path that used to be a railroad line stretching all the way to Florida. It's amazing.

Second, I got to know this place by the owner, Burton Brown. He used to come to the downtown bookstore where I worked and we had a great time talking about books. I knew what he liked to read, and his wife would come by while he got chemo and have me pick out books for him. One year, he gave everyone at the bookstore buffalo meat for Christmas. He was Chattanooga's version of the Marlboro Man. I hadn't talked to him in years, but I called him up a month ago to see if we could visit and he was more than accommodating. He told me to make myself at home and I was welcome anytime, so naturally I brought a friend and we had a huge adventure.

Disclaimer: if you go on an adventure with me, just know that it might turn into a production. I told John everything that happened to find the place and get close to the buffalo and he said that Kate was a good person to go with. We laughed at all our antics. 

I'm completely in love with this place. I've never seen a buffalo in person. Before I met Burton, I thought that buffaloes were roaming the range far away from Tennessee-ya know from that one song...but now I know differently. They are huge, quick animals, and I'm impressed. 

I wish I would have brought a picnic and let the kids have time to dig in the dirt while I sat still for a bit. This trip was more exploratory to see what they have to offer, because I have big plans to return and spend some more time here. 

At the end, Burl said, "Mama this a fun adventure you brought us on, but we didn't bring all our friends." That boy is just like his mama-wants to go on adventures and include all his people. We had a great Monday morning adventure and I'm so glad that we got to go.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

This Week's Menu

Today I prepped my kale salad for the week right beside the ice cream that I bought for John.
The yin and the yang, people, at it's best. 

Jenny's roast, sweet potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts
Roasted chicken, rice styled cauliflower, steamed broccoli
Butternut squash soup, salad, fruit
Pesto meatballs and noodles, peas (leftover cauliflower for me)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Yard Work & Apologies

This weekend's outdoor activity was yard work. This might be the kids' favorite thing to do outside. Being outside, at their own house, playing in their own space...they are totally content and independent. 

-accomplishing a lot of stuff.
-watching Burl find his own place in the work.
-meeting friendly faces at the dump.
-cutting down trees with John. (He saws, I pull with a rope, it starts to fall, and we run.
Not safe, but very exciting)
-digging a little bit more of Burl's hole with him
-driving with the kids riding shotgun to the front of the house.
-unloading a lot of brush.
-spotting Fern waving eagerly from her window after her nap.
-John telling our neighbor that I was an awesome hauler. (brush, that is).

Low-lights: All the apologies I had to offer. I was a hard-worker, but I wasn't the nicest wife.

We're on our way to a neater yard. We've come a long way since we first moved into our home, and in the name of Progress, we're slowly getting there. Those little babes of ours don't know the difference, they just have fun with us being together.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dude Construction Zone

How perfect is this construction zone? My friend Kate sacrificed her ideal of a sweet little garden in the corner of her back yard. Instead, she went to Home Depot, put together these signs, threw some random toys over there (see: pizza box and egg cartons) and made a perfect spot for boys to get dirty and get some work done. Burl and some other little dudes were invited over for some working time.  

To top it off, Kate made pizza for the boys and they got to eat it in the fort. Basically, it was perfect outside spaces for these worker-boys. It was a fun morning for Burl and "all his friends."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Six & 1/2 Thoughts

We have plenty of outdoor adventures coming and going through our schedules, not as activities that clutter the calendar. Instead, I'm noticing that the outside is inviting us, well, out. I have been organizing little trips, but I'm trying to fight the organization and let our lives gravitate towards the things we love doing. Here are six things that my mind is slowly drifting to today:

1. I'm still "vibing" off our camping trip. Seriously, that trip was extremely relaxing and amazing for us. I can't believe that a one night camping trip has such lasting effects. Outside + hanging with John = it's put me in a very slow pace that I am enjoying.

2. Saturday we had a last minute, unplanned family yard day. We were clearing our brush, loading it on the street, picking up broken yard toys, and chopping wood. We each got dirty and I got some poison ivy, but it was fun to be in our yard as a family. I've been doing yard work since I was a teenager, and it never fails to disappoint. The combination of being outside and accomplishing a task is hard to beat, and joining with my family of four in the backyard is what my dreams were made of as a child. 

3. Before the camping trip, I was terrified of being too cold. John talked to me and my basic problem is that I don't wear enough layers. I just ordered some extra tall tees to layer, and I'm excited to have long sleeves that actually reach to my wrists. Check out Old Navy and Gap for lots of clothes available in tall. I just got this shirt for $10 on clearance. Holla:

4. I'm trying not to be afraid of the cold because see #3, but there has been several rumors that we're going to have a "hard winter" which terrifies the humidity-loving southern gal inside of me.

5. I made this little movie on my iPhone from our camping trip and I must have watched it 50 times. We made some solid memories cooking on the campfire (that John tended to so well) hiking around Fall Creek Falls kid-free and I can't.stop.watching. (Click to my homepage to watch it.)

6. I've finally printed some of my pictures for a little decorating thing in my house that should come together soon.  It's taken me a long time to pull the trigger and bring this project to completion. 

ps...I'm loving the ease of a bandanna in my hair. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Midweek Getaway

John and I had 24 hours away while my mom had the kids. Yesterday to today. In the middle of the week. For one night of camping. The trip was ignited by John's solo trip to Fall Creek Falls-he found several cool trails that weren't kid friendly. I was eager to see them and he was eager to return, so a one-night, kid-free camping trip was our solution. 

Waking up. 

I read some vacation advice a while ago that has always stayed with me: Expectations can ruin a vacation if they're not met. Lowered expectations and speaking up can help things go smoothly. Now, John and I always talk about what we envision for our trips. Sometimes we have too many hopes and dreams, and we have to bring each other to reality. For this trip, I wanted a slow morning and to go to the base of the waterfalls and to an overlook spot. For John, he wanted the same hikes and to not talk about work and the kids (the entire time). It didn't take us long to really relax. Camping without kids is a breeze. We were all "can you throw this away for me?" and the perky reply, "Absolutely. Not a problem at all. Anything else I can throw away for you?" We were one cotton candy moment away from singing kumbaya. 

The whole trip was short, but it felt exciting to get away in the middle of the week.
We really had a lot of fun, and we came back very relaxed. And eager to see our babies.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Few Inspirations

National Wildlife Federation has amazing photographs for sale for reasonable printing prices. This picture of canoers in Alberta takes my breath away.

The Peace of Wild Things & Psalm 23 by Little Family In The Big City (a personal friend and my biggest outdoorsy inspiration)

Click over to watch this video. The only thing I can understand is "leave your troubles at the gate" and their excitement and energy that make me want to do just that...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

This Week's Menu

I'm feeling great on the Whole30 diet, except for this bad cold I have. I got some feedback on Facebook, and everyone ok'd my dinner of Campbell's tomato soup and crackers. I swear, I think it fixed me. I've barely sniffed since then. I'm hoping for a full recovery in the morning (a little name-it-claim-it faith right here), so I can get back to the fun stuff we have planned this week. John asked me if it was worth it to feel sick and go off my diet for the night, and I told him no, that I like how I feel on the diet. Like I said last week, I feel like a super human. Whole30 people, try it for 30 days. I highly recommend it. As for the rest of our food, we've got lots of veggies and meat:

Smoked BBQ, sweet potato fries, grilled okra
Paleo pancakes with blueberries and almonds, bacon
Roast, sweet potatoes, green beans
Burgers, chips and guacamole

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tote Winner & My Dad's Words

Before I share the winner of the giveaway, I thought I would share my dad's comment on his ideal picnic:

Grilling out on the farm with my sons, daughter, best son-in-law, and the grand children. Nature is part of everything. Connecting with animal which provides me a calm I wish I could describe and I see it's affect on all. The open space with all it's borders edged with nature ever changing beauty. Watching the grand kids look on their faces as the fish pops out of the water. The best part of all is watching all the expressions of love and having the deep sense of family.To me this is the best of life. This is one of the reason we take the time and effort to go on a picnic. -Pops

For a man who doesn't take pen to paper much (or keystrokes to the computer), I thought those words were so beautiful. Dad, thanks for taking the time to write that. Very sweet.

Thanks for all sharing your picnic dreams with me. The winner of the giveaway is Jennifer N, so please email me your address and I'll send your sweet tote to you. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Drop

It's taken me years to realize that the outdoors are a part of my life in so many ways. Most of those ways are small and simple, but my city has won me over. Chattanooga has great things going on-big and small, dangerous and simple-and I'm embracing it. 

Enjoy this video about some of those big, wild adventures that happen in Chattanooga:

The Drop - River Rocks Closing Ceremony
from Silvey Huffaker Creative on Vimeo.

The Drop premiered at the closing ceremonies of River Rocks 2013.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Our new tradition has to be the most relaxing outdoor adventure with babies. 

The kids think it's a big treat, and we have been known to dangle this carrot in front of their face to get them through our nighttime routines. ("Let's hurry so we can have time for Flashlight!") It's simple: get them bathed, teeth brushed, jammies on, and head outside for flashlight timein the front yard. 

The kids alter between snuggling in our laps and shining the flashlights in the grass, the air, the house, etc. We lounge around and it stays surprisingly serene and easy. Outside after baths and jammies sound crazy, but it works for us right now. 

Don't forget to checkout the canvas tote that I'm giving away!