Monday, October 20, 2014

Amicalola Falls


As I mentioned last week, we visited Amicalola Falls State Park a couple of weekends ago. Craig had read that the falls were pretty impressive and we were anxious to explore yet another beautiful spot in our new home.


We have been studying up on the Appalachian Trail lately because...well, how cool would it be to hike the whole thing?! I mean, you would have to take at least 6 months to do it. Ok, I would have to take that long. An experienced backpacker could do it in a much shorter time, I am sure. It follows all the way from Georgia to Maine...2,108.5 miles! We found out that this place begins the 8.5 mile hike to Springer Mountain - which is the southern end of the Appalachian Trail. That obviously made us legit because we were basically starting the AT right then and there. #badtothebone



Though I have begun to suspect that the really dramatic color changes don't begin until around mid-November here, I am absolutely loving the few bright pops of red, orange, and golden yellow that I do see. Fall is my favorite season for shooting, I think. I just cannot get enough of the colors.


Attention all botanists and green thumbs : what the heck is this?! It is awesome and reminds me of King Koopa from Super Mario Brothers.




Along with the beautiful and unusual flowers that we came across, we also spied some larger-than-my-foot leaves. Seriously, huge.


I'll be honest with you. I may like these small falls throughout the creek more than I do the giant falls. I don't know if it is because there aren't as many people congregating around them so I can enjoy them more or if I just like the sound and peacefulness of them. They are really lovely.




For scale. These rocks boulders were large and in charge. Just call 'em Charles #80sthrowback


Canon is an avid rock collector and found this little gem {no pun intended} to add to his stash.


We finally made it to the falls, and they were beautiful. Of course, you have to stand on metal grates in front of them which freaks me out, but they are worth the time.


Do you notice the glassy-eyed look of this little one?


Yep, his daddy had to carry him up the 425 more stairs {after the 175 that we had already climbed to see the falls above}. 



Craig's reward for carrying a 40 pound little dud up an obscene staircase? This view. Though really we only saw it for a moment because it began to rain. Not hard, but enough that we hurried to our trail connector to ensure that we saw everything before the storm rolled through. {Spoiler alert : it never actually came. Mother Nature is such a tease.}





We walked into the Amicalola Falls Lodge, which boasts breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys. Of course, it was so beautiful that I immediately felt out of place and embarrassed that we looked like such a hot mess after hiking all day.Silly, I know, but true. We didn't stick around long, but Craig and I did decide that we are going to stay there at least one night just to experience it.

On the way back down the mountain, we took a different trail for two reasons. 1} We could potentially see more and different beauty on a different trail and 2} we couldn't bear the thought of walking down those 600 stairs. Lucky for you this means that you get a little glimpse into how Canon hikes...he dances. And runs. And jumps from rock to rock. Are you beginning to understand why Craig has to carry him so often on trails? Four year old energy at its best.



We thoroughly enjoyed Amicalola Falls, in spite of the treacherous stairways. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? And anyway my thighs will thank me.

One day.






Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bonus post


In honor of our upcoming weekend explorations...


Find a photographer
Image courtesy of: SnapKnot - Find a photographer


I can't wait to fill you in.

Drop-dead depot



A few weeks ago we took our explorations to Amicalola Falls State Park. I will tell you more about the park later because I wanted to show you what we discovered on the drive to there.You see, we passed an old railroad depot in Tate, GA and it yelled at me. More precisely, I saw it and really, really, really wanted to take pictures of it. I didn't have to ask to stop though because my dear, sweet husband heard its call and pulled over before I even had a chance. Good man.

The paint was peeling perfectly and the colors blended to create a beautiful scene. I mean, this is one sexy situation going on. 



I know that when paint colors and types of wood are chosen that they don't take into account how they will look once the years have weathered them down. Seriously though, these choices were superb.





Does anyone else look at this and think of Alice In Wonderland? I can't not see it. "See for yourself!"



So you see, I had to stop and capture this place before we even made it to our actual destination. It was totally worth it.





Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wanderlist Wednesday : Provence


I'm in the mood for a little french twist today. Et tu? Let's travel to Provence, France to see the gorgeous lavender fields and quaint town that beckon me so.

Can you just imagine how good this place smells?! Holy cow.




You can just go ahead and leave me at the farmhouse in the bottom picture. I will make myself at home and live out the rest of my days there. Happily.









Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Impromptu Family Fun


First of all, no I am not going to address the proverbial elephant in the proverbial room. Proverbially. I didn't blog last week because we had a LOT going on and, quite frankly, I was exhausted every day. And no, for the record, I am not pregnant. Just busy. Not to be confused with "gettin' busy". Man, this went downhill quickly.

Back to the post at hand. As I am sure that you know by now, my family is really close. Just this morning, I was video chatting with my brother and his family because well, why not? Anyway, a couple of weeks ago we brought some tools to our house from my mother's house in Alabama with the intention of getting them to my brother in North Carolina. We are the halfway point for everyone now so it made sense. So he made arrangements to come pick them up at our house and spend the night before heading back home. He would be bringing my niece with him so she and Canon could play. Great, right?

Well, my mom caught wind of the situation and decided to come up because both of the grandbabies would be in one place at one time. Cool. Then my dad wants to join in the fun. And of course my younger siblings who live in Atlanta decide to come over too. One big happy family reunion weekend decided in less than a week.

Any other husband/son-in-law/brother-in-law might have cringed at the outlaws spending the weekend, and at such short notice. My guy, though? He actually loves my family and was excited at the prospect. He began thinking of ways to fill our time. Hiking! Kayaking! Swimming in lakes and rivers!

The thundering hordes arrived Friday night and the excitement ensued. What did we end up doing? I know you are at the edge of your seat. Wait for it...

Hiking? Kayaking? Swimming in lakes and rivers? Nope, nope, and nope.

We went to Walmart. Twice. We went to a shoe store. Twice.

No, I am not kidding. Craig was mystified. How could we do absolutely nothing in this beautiful area?! The reality was it didn't matter what we were doing. We were together and having a blast. We laughed and played together, even in the store aisles. We ate together as a family around our table and just spent time together. It was glorious.

We did manage a little "down time" while the kids played outside in the front yard, though.


Canon, being Canon, played soccer with his Uncle Walker. Anderson, however, decided that rocks - or more precisely, concrete - were her thing. She played with the loose rocks all.day.long.


Can't you see how much fun we were having. We were, I swear!


She would gather the rocks...


...and then sprinkle them in a new location. Needed. Obviously.


Occasionally, she would show me what she gathered. "See!"


I know this must look awkward to an outsider, but this was actually pretty funny. You see, my sister decided to be my dad's arms. You know those Helping Hands skits from Whose Line Is It Anyway? Well, those happen a lot around here and it is hilarious.


Vogue. Strike a pose.


Dude looks like a lady!



Flower power, man.


So you see? We had a fantastic time doing nothing. I didn't even take that many pictures. I was actually asked if my camera was broken since I hadn't pulled it out for anything. We went to Walmart, people. Not really photo worthy. I kid, I kid.




Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A More Natural Lifestyle : Essential Oils


Let's talk essential oils. Yes, I know. Everyone's using them right now. The thing is, though, they work. It's not a new fad. They have been used, and have been proven to work, for thousands of years. Why? Because they are natural, God-given remedies for everything from sickness to cleaning and everything in between. They are referenced in the Bible as being used for everything from washing feet and preparing foods to healing ailments and masking odors. Frankincense and myrrh anyone? They are very powerful and potent, not to mention better for you than man-made chemicals that we put in our bodies everyday.


On my path to a more natural lifestyle, I was introduced to essential oils by a number of people. I was initially only intrigued with the idea of making homemade cleaners with them or making my house smell good. Adding lemon to a recipe for dish soap or spritzing some peppermint in my room at Christmas time seemed normal enough to me. I wasn't ready to replace my medicine cabinet with them or anything, but I figured it was worth looking into these natural remedies for their many uses.

It is, coincidentally, the part of this lifestyle change of which Craig likes to make the most fun. He calls me a hippie, an alchemist, or a witch doctor pretty regularly. The one thing he hasn't called me regarding these oils? Wrong. Because despite how it seems and how it looks, it works.

What I am learning about these oils truly amaze me every day. Now, I know there are a couple of big company names in this industry today and you are likely being bombarded with either of them pretty regularly. So let me just let you know : I am not trying to sell you anything. I simply want to share one more facet of my "more natural lifestyle" with you and I feel like this is a huge part of it. I did a lot of research and found that there are a ton of companies out there that are selling them. Several of my friends use oils from "competing" companies* and I researched the heck out of all of them. I finally decided on doTerra because I like that the oils come only from plants naturally grown where they are intended to grow - such as lavender in Provence, France - instead of in a lab or "secure facility". I also loved the idea that they could safely be taken internally and used for children or pets without harmful side effects.

*Note : I do not like the term "competing" companies, in this sense. The thing about oils is that you have to find what works for you, your lifestyle, and your family. I don't care which company you use, and I am not here to judge anyone who uses a different one from me. 

The coolest thing about oils is that they aren't a "miracle drug" or anything like that. They are simply extracts from plants - and nothing else - that help your body do what it is naturally supposed to do. That cold that you are trying to catch? If you arm your body with oils like Frankincense, Melaleuca, or Oregano you will give your body the stuff that it needs to fight that cold quickly and naturally instead of just masking the symptoms with over-the-counter meds. For example, Canon started at a pre-k program a couple of weeks ago. We all know what that means, right? Kids bring sickness to school and my child brings it home. Story of our life. This go-round, though, I have been armed with my oils. I began diffusing a blend of oils like the three mentioned above as well as Lemon and OnGuard {a doTERRA essential oil blend} and his runny nose becomes nothing more than that! Even that is gone within a couple of days. This is the kid that, upon catching a cold, would immediately spike a fever. The cold would move to his chest within 24 hours and we would have to begin breathing treatments with albuterol for days to keep him out of the doctor's office.  I am telling you, this stuff works.

On the flip side, the hardest thing to remember is that they aren't a "miracle drug" in that your ailment isn't going to miraculously disappear after one dosage. Don't get me wrong - you will immediately notice relief and see the different they make - but you will not upon simply touching the oils become completely healed from the flu. They are not Jesus, after all. Your body will, however, begin to heal itself faster and more completely than if you were to pop OTC drugs that contain a bunch of other crap that you probably shouldn't be ingesting anyway.

So that's all great and wonderful, you say, but where do I start?! There are a ton of oils out there. Which are the most versatile - the ones that will give me the biggest bang for my buck?! Well that, my friend, is what we are going to talk about today. Now, I have a small arsenal of oils that I use every single day. I put them in a veggie capsule every morning and take the allotted dosage to help my body get into fighting shape. I would suggest, for someone who just wants to test the waters, that they begin with just a couple of oils to see their many benefits. Keep in mind that the examples that I give are not all of the uses of these oils. I am simply listing a few that you could use in your everyday life.

Lavendar


Lavender is one of those one-stop-shop oils. Think of it as the everyday workhorse. It can do it all. The soothing fragrance will calm you when you want to relax. I put this on Canon's feet and back at night to help him go to sleep. It doesn't put you to sleep, it just helps you to settle down long enough to drift off. It also relieves itching and helps heal minor scratches, scrapes, and rashes. Anything from insect bites to skinned knees - and everything in between - are immediately soothed with a bit of lavender oil. {Moms of little boys, can I get an amen?!} Trust me, we have used it all summer. In fact, while visiting my grandmother one month, she ended up with something that was itching her forearm so badly that she would scratch until it broke the skin. I broke out the lavender oil and she was so amazed with the results that she ordered some for herself. I used it when, on our Labor Day trip to the beach, a couple of my brothers got sunburned. I applied it to both of them a couple of times during the weekend. It took the sting out and neither of them peeled at all. Lavender is also good for allergies, odors, or even used as soap. Like I said : one-stop-shop.

Lemon


Lemon is a fantastic oil, not only for it's health benefits, but also for it's use around the house. Add it to your dish soap and not only will your dishes smell fantastic but they will also be so clean that they sparkle. This oil is great for detoxing your body of things that are harmful to it, be it bad foods or alcohol it will help to clean your system out. I drink at least 5 drops of lemon in my water every single day. It is great for healing cold sores and soothing coughs or other respiratory issues. It can give your hair highlights with just a few drops and the sunlight. It can help to preserve any leather that you have as well - couches, jackets, etc.

Peppermint


Peppermint oil is great for headaches. Trust me, I know! I have my fair share of headaches so when I feel one coming on, I dab a little on my temples, forehead, and the back of my neck to rid myself of the pain. It is also a great oil for cooling yourself down. This goes for anything from fevers to just being outside in the summer heat. Rub some on the back of your neck for instant a/c. Toothaches, tummy aches, and allergies {especially when mixed with lemon!} stand no chance against this oil. Also, spiders hate the smell of this stuff {winning!} and ticks can be removed so easily with it. Oh, and if you are dragging, peppermint helps to wake up your body and increase oxygen intake. 

Melaleuca


Melaleuca is one of nature's most powerful anti-fungals, which makes it invaluable against everything from the herpes virus {like canker/cold sores} and fungal infections {like athlete's foot} to diaper rash and acne. Eczema and other irritated skin conditions don't stand a chance. Dude, even staph infections can be healed with it. I mean, really healed. It is extremely effective against lice, cavities, earaches, and even in removing warts.

This group of oils represent the most basic, versatile oils that you can own - at least in my opinion. Of course, knowing all that I know now they are simply the tip of the iceberg. Alas, I always feel that it is imperative for people to do their own research and form their own opinions about things, so don't take my word for it. Give these "voodoo concoctions" {as my dear husband would say} a try. You won't regret it.


It is very important to note that you should dilute these oils in something like fractionated coconut oil when applying topically. This is two-fold. First, if you applied the oils directly to your skin without using a carrier oil, you would lose the benefit of some of the oil because a large majority of it would evaporate. The other reason is because some {though not all} of the oils, for instance Oregano, are especially potent and could feel "hot" on your skin.

Another very important note : not all companies' essential oils are safe to take internally. I love doTERRA essential oils mainly because they are safe to consume. My thoughts are that if they are safe enough for even my child to take internally, then they are a fantastic thing. 

Like I said previously, I use essential oils everyday. My lower back pain? There is an essential oil for that. Stress Reliever? Definitely an oil for that. Sleep aid? You guessed it. I even take them on our hiking adventures and vacations because...you never know. I have found them to be an invaluable tool in my journey towards a more natural lifestyle.



As I stated, I am not trying to sell you anything, but if you would like more information on these oils, please contact me or visit my doTERRA site. It has valuable information throughout, including the history of essentials oils and an insight into the oil extraction process itself.