Fall Favorite Family Activities, part II

I could NOT forget Cades Cove. I know I’ve written about it before, but it really is one of our favorites. We go several times a year, but our fall trip is a MUST. We went this last weekend to see the fall colors and hopefully see some critters. Didn’t see much all day. Then right before sunset, we saw several deer and a black bear. This was one healthy bear, too. Bordering on fat, I’d say, which is exactly where it should be this time of year I suppose. It crossed the road a few cars in front of us and we all got a pretty decent view. No matter how many times we see a black bear, it never gets old and is always exhilarating.

We drove the loop twice, had a picnic, the kids played in the stream, and snacked in the car. I’m thankful for the family time-without electronics of any kind-that we get to enjoy up there. If you live anywhere within driving distance, I would highly recommend you make the trip. If you need more information or want to see even more pictures from this amazing piece of the national park, find it here: http://www.smokiesinformation.org/

I am so blessed to live in beautiful East Tennessee!


Fall Favorite Family Activities, Part I

We have a few things at our house that we MUST do during fall, before the leaves are gone and it’s too cold. The first favorite fall activity is camping. There is nothing better than spending the night in a quiet campground with the windows on the camper open (or in a tent!) listening to the nighttime critters and feeling the cool breeze. The campfires are more magical in fall, the s’mores taste better, and the down time is more restful. I’ve included some pictures from our favorite campgrounds here in East Tennessee. Top three picks are Frozen Head State Park, Fall Creek Falls State Park, and Standing Stone State Park. I’d love to know your family fall favorites and your favorite campgrounds. Please share them with me!

P.S.-Notice one of our favorites is Frozen Head State Park. This real-life park is partially featured in my novel Callum’s Compass


Loads and loads and loads of apples. So many, I’m not sure what to do with them all. What a blessing!

We harvested two huge laundry baskets full of apples from my mom’s house a few weeks ago. My goal: learn how to can. Boy, did I ever! I’ve made (with my sister in law’s and daughters’ help) apple butter, apple preserves, apple cider, applesauce, apple pie filling, apple cake, and apple cookies. Guess what? I still have apples! The chickens, rabbits, goats, and skunk have all had apples (not on purpose for that little stinker). At times through this process, I’ve felt a little overwhelmed. But, I’ve reminded myself this is truly a blessing.

What have I learned?

  1. Canning is a group ‘sport’. It is a huge undertaking and I can understand why people do it in together.
  2. It is fulfilling to preserve food that would otherwise go to waste and have a pantry full of home-made goodies.
  3. Our ancestors, who gathered, prepared, canned, preserved ALL their food, really worked hard. I have a new respect for them.
  4. The hard work is worth it.