North Georgia Thanksgiving

My family frequently gets together for Thanksgiving in North Georgia. We absolutely love the area but especially in Fall. 

This year, as in many past years, instead of spending Thanksgiving Eve waiting in a store, we went for a hike in beautiful Tallulah Gorge. If you haven’t been it’s worth it. Those who know me and many who’ve followed me for awhile know well that I’m not the biggest outdoor girl. Bad luck tends to ensue (insect bites, run in with venomous snakes, etc) but this time was lovely. The Moose and I are proud parents of a seven year old and an 18 month old at this time. We use one of our backpacks from Ireland (Osprey, non-sponsored but just love their products) as our diaper bag and have for about 6 months now. It was perfect for our short hike. When lil bit was Lilo’s age we bought a carrier to be used for hiking and the Moose was thrilled to finally put it to use. The leaves changed later than usual this year so the Gorge was well gorgeous! We spent a few hours and went to Inspiration overlook as well as the North Rim trail (I think). I do recommend Tallulah Falls and the area as a whole. 

Downtown Clayton is full of wonderful little small-business shops and fantastic restaurants. Our favorite food stop this time was The Farmhouse Donuts and Decor (on Facebook as The Farmhouse Clayton). The cow pie and their well all of them really were delicious I just love peanut butter. Their coffee was great with the donuts, very fresh on a particular cool day.

Blue Ridge Toys was an awesome little local toy store with wonderful German and French hard-to-find brands. We got the girls some VERY cool presents for Christmas. The shoppe was wonderfully helpful and even helped us hide the gifts, a worker with elf ears walked with my husband three blocks back to our car carrying a rather heavy wooden kitchen in the cold and then refused to let him tip her. You don’t get costumer service like that many places IN N AMERICA everyday anymore. I hope they do well and we can have the pleasure of buying from them again next year.

Another wonderful, more tourist place we love to go to is Goats on a Roof. It’s a very cute family owned mini-tourist spot with a yummy little cafe and nitro-ice cream. The gift shop inside is fun to look through but toasting marshmallows, drinking hot cocoa and of course feeding the goats is the main attraction. You can also pay a very reasonable fee to get a picture with Santa Claus and a baby goat as well as cocoa and a cup of goat feed. And before you go calling PETA the goats are very well loved and kind of respond to their humans like large house cats. One was roaming around the room visiting with everyone and rubbing up against its Elf trying to get in her lap and have her head scratched.

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Treasure Hunting: Family Adventures

Every year for the past three years at least, our family tries to make our way over at least a few times from Jan-Feb to one of my favorite spots on the GA coast, Jekyll Island. If you are unfamiliar with the island its a small island off the Southern coast of Georgia that was once a vacation spot for big names such as Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Pulitzer, etc who built “cottages” there and had an exclusive hunting club. The island is now a State Park and home to both historic landmarks and beautiful beaches.

During the cooler months when tourism is down, we find it the best time to partake in the many trails/bike paths all over the island as we don’t have to become food sources for the insect population. It’s also this time of year (Jan 1- Feb 28) when the island hosts its annual treasure hunt!

The treasure hunt is based on a hobby from the 1950s when beach-goers would collect hollow glass balls/floats that fishermen would use to mark their nets when they broke free and drifted on shore.

As you may have read in my New Year’s post, the Moose and I have made a joint decision to disconnect this year and spend more time outdoors with the girls. We took the somewhat warmer day (above freezing) as a sign to do just that. We packed up the girls and dressed them and ourselves warmly and went on an adventure.

We went along the trail leading towards the historic district keeping our eyes out for treasures and stopping along the way to read and discuss some of the historic sites with Little Bit.

We did make it all the way to the historic district but the wind had picked up, the clouds started to come in and the girls were cold. We headed back, walking about 3 miles round trip and having a lot of fun!

While we didn’t find any treasure this weekend we hope to come back soon with better luck!

I’d love to hear from you! What adventures do you like to go on with your kiddos or significant other?

The rare cold day

We took Little Bit and Lilo on a hike at a state park on New Years Day. I️ haven’t always been an outdoors woman to say the least. I️ mean bugs, snakes (many poisonous around here) and the sun are not exactly in this pale girl’s friend list. I️ am trying to find it more enjoyable especially when the weather assists me in blocking my three aforementioned enemies as in Georgia “Swinter” or the extreme mixture of weather we have between late October and March. I️ mean, y’all, my idea of a great day is curled up in my pjs or yoga pants reading a good book and drinking some hot tea on a “cold” day.

We had decided if the Seattle-style weather subsided on New Year’s Day and the weather was above freezing we would #optoutside with the girls as my husband is very much an outdoor kind of guy and since Ireland I’ve found a bit more of an adventurous side to my soul.

With much difficulty we mustered enough layers to be somewhat warm in the just above freezing temps (it’s the South y’all, I️ didn’t even get to wear a sweater last “winter”) and threw some things in a daypack.

We were pretty much the only people in the park other than employees. I’ve already learned a lot about dressing warmly after this one trip lol. It was frigid. I didn’t have true mittens for the baby and vowed to crochet some as soon as possible. Especially, as I suspect, we will be doing this more often. We hiked down the pioneer trail until the temp started dropping and we decided to turn around. It was amazing but not entirely unsurprising how well Little Bit took to the hike. She found area where the wild boar in the area had been digging, saw hoof prints from deer and the boar along he way. The Moose was an Eagle Scout so had camped at the park before and took her to view the campsites which she thought was awesome. There are few benches along the trail and we stopped and let Little Bit assist Moose in using the campstove to boil water for one of those rehydrated meals to try. It was actually delicious for camping food and the warm slightly spicy meal was welcome to cut through the cold, almost wet chill.

We decided as we made our way back to the car to do this more often during the year as disconnecting from screen time and the more modern world felt good. The connection we made with the girls and with each other on this brief hike left me wanting more. The-not-so-outdoorsy girl in me finding very little room to complain about anything other than her desire for a warm bath.

So as we begin 2018 we start with true family time and have already done a little treasure hunting on Jekyll Island (see next post).

Tralee & County Kerry

Let me just say that I have been fortunate to be in some beautiful places in my life. I even live near a few, but little prepared me for the tug on my heart strings of County Kerry and the town of Tralee. It wasn’t just the sights—even the beautiful pictures can’t exactly do justice to it; the entire vibe and atmosphere just felt like home to me. There are very few places I feel connected to in the way I felt connected to County Kerry, I tend to be more connected with people rather than places; however I could have just stayed there and become an expat—at least until winter.

Tralee is a fairly small coastal city/town? with one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever visited. The playground was also just fantastic and I wish we had something half as nice near our home. We just so happened to be fortunate enough to be there when the 200th festival was going on and the day after we arrived so did festival stalls, music, and giant semi-scary puppets for the kids.

Down the road a bit further from the park is a museum which was definitely worth a visit. The adults enjoyed the history and scenes set up while the kids enjoyed the dress-up and mini-excavation pits set up inside the museum. Because of the festival, the museum was free I believe but we gave a donation and had the OPK card from Dublin.

We stayed at an absolutely BEAUTIFUL bed and breakfast, The Park Georgian Guest House, owned by a lovely and accommodating couple, Joe being the one who primarly took care of us. Breakfast was insanely delicious and freshly prepared every morning. The few mornings we left early Joe got up early to cook for us. He and my husband bonded over StarWars filming stories and Joe and his wife also own an inn in Dingle which is where a good bit of the crew and cast stayed when filming in Dingle and on Skellig Michael. We also went to Great Blasket Island which is deserving of its own post later and we could see Skellig Michael on the boat trip. Very steep. Not for small children. Joe had recommended for our leisure day (a.k.a. Explore town day/take it easy day) to try Mucross House.

It was worth it. The estate itself is so postcard-perfect but there were more than enough activities to keep my little one entertained who is happy so long as she can roam around outside. We did the “farm tour” and were VERY glad to have brought rain gear and to have worn comfortable hiking style shoes. Some of the pathway was fairly steep but as you can see, totally worth it…

The farm tour was lovely and we would have enjoyed it more had my sister and I not been separated from the Moose and Lil Bit. Apparently they had gone into the first little house which was off to the side of the road which we thought might be a place we weren’t supposed to go. Turns out we missed out on fresh, hand-churns butter and stone ground wheat bread hot out of the wood-burning stove. I also had no idea how large Irish Wolfhounds were, wow!
Overall the getting separated bit was one of the few stressful downsides to the whole trip. Rain in Ireland was far less torrential than what we were expecting as even when it was “heavy” per the locals it was mild compared to GA/FL summer downpours we are accustomed to here. (Sometimes I feel we need an arc)

We ended the beautiful day by driving partially around the Ring. It really is worth it folks although I’d hate to be on a tour bus and the drive seems somewhat treacherous because of them. We saw beautiful Irish Countryside, met some sheep (my Lil Bits happy place), loved the free-spirited Irish cows (they were running y’all, running–no wonder all of the beef there was to die for) and saw some ancient architecture along the way.
If I hadn’t already been in love that day sealed it for me. And we hadn’t even gotten to probably my favorite/soul-moving experience yet…

Dublin Part 2

It is sooo incredibly difficult to narrow down our adventures to a few photos for you guys but I’m trying to limit it to things you don’t typically see in the travel magazines or on travel sites.

After we left Trinity we headed towards Guinness but stopped by a very hole-in-the-wall pub where we had some amazing food and beer.

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Mmm..brown bread and Guinness beef stew….

I saw some awesome historic buildings along the way (I’m a sucker for the old school architecture and the modern lines just don’t work for me)

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We also found this place hilariously (and aptly named) as it was super tiny on the inside.

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We became side-tracked by passing alongside the Dublin Castle and were intrigued so we stopped and did the tour. Of note, if you are looking at doing several historic sites while there, it may be worthwhile to consider the OPW card for 25 Euros that includes many of the sites we visited and you don’t have to worry about paying each place you go and is good for 1 year. The castle was interesting and the manor area was also worth seeing once but I really loved the cathedral best.

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As you can see, little bit was less than excited about the dank underground castle wall. The view from the courtyard, inside the manor and then the beautiful church and some of its intricate detailing is shown next. None of the people are us or related so nevermind them. 🙂

The Guinness tour followed and by then we were both excited but tired. It had been a long day and because it was staying light so long compared to where we live, we lost track of time and it was getting late.

If you are quirky and have a good sense of humor you will enjoy some of the exhibits (yes, that is a whistling clam and a fish riding a bike), if not you will probably still enjoy the 360 bar with your free pint at the top. The best view in Dublin by far. We stayed up there until last call and when everyone started migrating back down the stairs. It was just lovely. (For those of you like me who don’t really do dark beer, they did have Stella Artois Cidre there and it was yummy!)

The next day was a little less fun as we were driving across country to Tralee and before we could even make it out of Dublin we got in a fender-bender. Everyone was ok (and thank God for rental car insurance) but we had to wait forever on another car at the rental car agency and the family was tired and cranky as we made it out of Dublin until we hit the countryside. Another post for another day though! *Suspenseful music plays in the background*

 

 

Airplane Travel with Lil Bit

I told you I would let you know what worked well for us and what didn’t.

What we’ve tried:

Snacks

  • dried apple, pear and strawberry/banana slices that are in individual serving packs
  • almonds
  • carrots
  • raisins and craisins
  • a cheese stick
  • animal cookie/crackers
  • Cliff Bars

I packed most of her snacks into a plastic, clear “tackle box” that we bought for just this purpose.

Toys

  • Ipad with:
  • Her small pillow
  • Nintendo DS with a few age appropriate games
    • Nintendogs
    • Horsez
    • Cooking Mama (I even like this one)
    • Spyro
    • A few others like Mario and Kirby that she likes to try but can’t really play well
  • Coloring/activity books
  • Highlights High Five magazine x 2 (for younger kids)
  • A few small story books
  • Child headphones
  • A “comfy” animal (stuffed)

I left the tackle box in the fridge on the way to the airport but the dried fruit and cliff bars as well as the bags of crackers and animal cookies were awesome both there and the way home.

The Disney movies and iPad games were life-savers. She slept most of the long flight to Europe but on the way home really needed the iPad. Every 30 mins she was asking if we were there yet :). She did play the Nintendo some but honestly Josh and I used it to play retro nintendo games on there more than she utilized it. The coloring and activity books helped as well while we were actually in Ireland. She colored when she was up while everyone was getting ready and packing.

I don’t feel like we shouldn’t have brought any of the things we did but I maybe think there were some better choices. We also bought a lot of stuff while we were over there because it was way cheaper than we had planned for originally. I had packed an extra travel duffle and we ended up buying a second with wheels there for all of our souvenirs (many).

Exploring Dublin

We’ve officially spent our first full day in Ireland and Dublin. We arrived to the airport and then went to pick up our rental car which took quite awhile. Little Bit did AMAZING on the flight there and slept most of it (unlike the 3 adults). This was our first peak out the airplane window!

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We don’t plan on using it much through Dublin but will be using it to drive to Tralee in 2 days. My first impression once we got to our hotel was that the food was way better than anticipated. We drove to find a hair dryer and straightener from the pharmacy and it took 3 tries before we ended up all the way in St Stevens Green shopping centre where we then met a nice merchant who suggested we get out of Dublin ASAP and head towards the countryside, lol. We told him our plans and he made a few recommendations and suggested we avoid Kilarenny and go ahead towards CO Kerry that there was some beautiful places to visit and see “although the roads aren’t brilliant” and the drive might take closer to 5 hrs than the 4 we thought.


We left there and swung by the mall at St Stevens Green which is another beautiful piece of architecture. We found it especially humorous that TJ Max is TK Max over there. Not sure why they feel the need for the letter change but there you have it.

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On the way out we stopped by Butler’s Chocolate Cafe where I bought one of the best cups of hot chocolate I’ve had in my entire life for €3.50. They also gave me a free chocolate to go with it and I got the Butter Praline which was good as well. The next day however when we stopped by and ALL got a cup (The Princess, my sister, got a white chocolate and Moose a Mocha which they use the hot chocolate with the coffee)we tried the shaved white that was phenomenal.
We were exhausted by the time we got back to our lovely, rather nicer than expected room with a Queen bed and two singles. We didn’t really eat dinner and all of us proceeded to sleep 11-13 hours each.

We woke up the next morning and were at it again bright and early to try to get both breakfast and to make it to Trinity College and Guinness to play true-to-form tourists for the day.

I loved Trinity College but then again I’m a nerd. Here you can enjoy the back of my head along with views of the courtyard facing those gorgeous 200+year OREGON oaks. Lol.

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It was beautiful, the tour was fun, interesting and I got to go to the library…the only thing I cared about why we were in Dublin.

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Incidentally, we have discovered a new challenge. Apparently this gold snitch-like sculpture has brothers/sisters around the world.

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My family and I hope to have our pictures taken with them all at some point or another. At least we like the idea of it. We very much enjoyed the tour and left to explore some more of downtown Dublin and head towards Guinness.

To Be Continued….