Disney, Uncategorized

Our Disney World Trip

We recently made a trip to Walt Disney World.  It was wonderful but also super stressful. It’s hard when you prepare so long for a trip and try to plan out everything perfectly and then several things happen to throw monkey wrenches in your plans.  Disney can be difficult even during the best of circumstances. There is a lot of walking, the weather can be unpredictable and if you have kids, you never know how they’ll be feeling, which rides they’ll refuse to go on or how long they’ll agree to walk.  Also, there’s the needing to run to the bathroom and crying because you’re hungry (and you still have to worry about the kids LOL). Our trip was awesome but not without it’s hiccups.  The kids came down with strep right before we left and weren’t feeling 100 percent. We all got tired and sometimes didn’t make it back to the park after our afternoon break.  We didn’t make it to the pool as often as we had hoped and we missed the fireworks a few nights due to pure exhaustion. But we still had an awesome time.  We got to try different restaurants, go on rides we hadn’t been on together as a family and have some great experiences.  We stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter and it was amazing!  I honestly think I might want to stay there every time I go in the future, unless I can stay in Cinderella’s Castle Room. I loved being able to ride the boat to Disney Springs, seeing as how that’s one of my favorite places (Yay! Shopping!). The weather while we were there was absolutely gorgeous and I haven’t experienced such nice weather that many days in a row since (Hello? Spring where you at?)  Anyway, I haven’t posted in a while because I was planning for the trip, recovering from the trip and just trying to decide what general direction I want to take my blog.  I’ve been focusing more on Videos lately and I’m hoping to start putting more content on my Youtube channel.  I’m adding a link to my Disney Video. Let me know if you have any questions about it or leave a comment about what kind of video you would like to see. Thanks and happy travels!

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Uncategorized

My Absolute Favorite Photos From 2017

January-  I didn’t do a lot in January so I didn’t have a lot of photos to choose from but my husband and I did get to do something we don’t get to do very often, go on a date. We went to Fogo de Chao in Atlanta and this is a picture of their salad bar.  I love how the lights look like little fireworks going off and it reminds me of a rare and fun time. Pro tip: if you go to Fogo, get the candied bacon off the bar, my favorite!

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February- My family went to Disney in February and it was fun!  My youngest daughter was 6 and had never been and she had the time of her life.  I think she wants to live there now. We were all sad when it was time to go home.  We loved experiencing all the new stuff at the parks that we hadn’t done.  Magic Kingdom and the castle are gorgeous at night. We went on my birthday and it rained basically the entire day.  It was raining so hard during the fireworks that we had to leave but I did capture this picture of the castle lit up at night before the heavy rain started.

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March- While we were in Disney World, my oldest daughter was about to order a cupcake from one of the stores when a girl in front of her ordered the last one.  The cupcake was Belle themed from Beauty and The Beast.   I felt so bad for her, I knew she really wanted that cupcake.  March is also when the live action Beauty and The Beast came out so I decided to make these cupcakes. I think they turned out great! I rolled them in yellow sugar crystals and put edible red roses on top (I found them at Walmart, theory made by Wilton, they look cute but don’t taste the best).

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April- In April I went on my first ever tent camping trip with my husband.  It was an experience for sure.  We went to Jekyll Island Georgia and it was much colder than we had anticipated. We also had an opossum try to get in our tent at about 3 a.m. and the ground was a little harder than I expected so we ended up sleeping in our car, waking up every so often to turn the heat on to warm us up.  It wasn’t exactly all that we had hoped but it was fun and the camp ground was gorgeous! Here’s the view from our tent. It was a little rough but totally worth it.

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May- After our camping experience, we decided we did want to continue camping, but maybe in something a little more comfortable.  We decided to buy a camper.  We found a really nice one at a decent price but it needed a little work.  I spent a lot of May working on our camper. Painting, updating the kitchen nook, putting in new bedding (making up a bed in an awkward high bunk is really difficult!). It looks awesome now.  I really love our little camper!

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June- In June we took the camper out for it’s maiden voyage. We stayed at a campground in Columbus, Georgia. While we were there, we took the kids to hike the nearby Providence Canyon.  It was so gorgeous and definitely not something you’d expect to see in South Georgia.  It was probably one of my favorite things we did all year and I’d love to go back!

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July- In July, my husband and I took a childless trip to Savannah for a couple of days.  I absolutely love Savannah! The people, the culture, the food, the atmosphere… everything! The only thing I did not love was the extreme heat and humidity they had going on in July.  We had a lot of fun walking on Riverstreet, eating some amazing restaurants and exploring downtown. Here’s one of my favorite pictures from Savannah.

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August- In August the kids started school and I went exploring the little towns around me.  I found this amazing coffee shop and bakery with a little book nook in it. They have amazing homemade baked goods, great coffee and one of the cutest seating areas I’ve ever seen.  I just love going there.

September- September is when my family goes on their annual Beach trip. Every year my parents, my sister, my kids, my grandfather and I all go to Panama City Beach in Florida. We stay at the same condos ever year. They have a gorgeous pool area surrounded by palm trees. Although not the clearest picture, I love this one I took from our balcony one evening.

October- In October my family went for a hike at a local wetlands center. We like to go for walks on the weekends with our kids as a fun away to get some exercise and explore nature (and according to them, torture them). This place has some beautiful views and we always see different types of animals.

November- In November we took another trip on our camper. This time to a state park in North Georgia. The camp hosts at the park recommended we drive up Bell Mountain. I had never heard of it before but was excited to check it out after his description. The road up was one of the scariest I’ve been on but the view was so worth it. Another interesting thing about Bell Mountain is that the encourage you to spray paint on the rocks there. I love this picture that shows both the spray paint and the view.

December – It’s still pretty early in December (today is the 8th) and I haven’t really done a whole lot of interesting things so far. It has been gorgeous weather and the trees and fog are making the landscapes near my house eerily beautiful. Unfortunately I can’t really snap pictures in my car while driving (because I see some amazingly beautiful sites while driving around my town) but I did catch this scene when I got out of my car the other day.

I hope you like this round up of my year in pictures. Be sure to follow me on Instagram @SouthernCharmedKindofLife and drop your Instagram account below so I can follow you back.

I hope you have a great end to your 2017!

Uncategorized

Hacks for Traveling With Kids

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With lots of traveling going on during the holidays, I thought I would share some of the ways I (and other parents I know) keep our kids occupied in the car/plane.

First, you definitely want to be prepared if you are taking a tablet or a DVD player. Make sure to have freshly downloaded games and movies or a few new movies if you have a DVD player you’re taking.  Also, make sure to buy or pack headphones that are comfortable, you definitely don’t want to have to listen to Frozen for 12 hours straight!

Bring snacks!  Kids are always hungry and if you don’t want to be stuck buying overpriced junk at small airport stores or gas stations, make sure you have some healthy snacks bagged and ready to go like fruit, veggie sticks, pretzels, fishy crackers, squeezy apple sauces etc.  I’m going to link right here to foods that are and are not allowed on planes.

Bring small items that your kids can play with.  Try not to give them all the items at once. Some people even fill small bags with goodies and give the child a new bag every hour or two.  Some great things to include are cars, sticker books, coloring books and crayons (try to find triangle shaped crayons that don’t roll easily), felt, pipe cleaners, magnets and play doh (they can use plastic spoons and knives to make patterns).

Bring medicine just in case. Some kids are prone to headaches and nausea while traveling. Kids pain reliever and dramamine are good to have on hand. I ordered pressure point wristbands before our trip to Disney since my kids get carsick pretty regularly.

Looking up trivia games online or writing down trivia questions that pertain to your trip are good ways to pass the time.  We did Disney trivia questions that the kids really enjoyed but you could do the same with cities, places you’ll be passing through, planes etc.

If you’re traveling by car, it’s a good idea to find fun places to stop along the way especially ones that have a playground or place to run around. A lot of my friends recommend stopping at Chick-fil-A because they usually have indoor playgrounds. You can also check out the Playground Buddy app (it’s free!) to find playgrounds near you.

Trash- if you’re traveling by car or even by plane, kids and even us adults, seem to generate a lot of mess and trash. It’s a good idea to take a grocery bag, large ziplock bag or even maybe even a large cup you can put in the cup holder to collect trash in.

If all else fails, you can play “I spy” with colors or by trying to find all the letters of the alphabet on billboards or license plates.  Also, my daughter loves it when I ask her to draw animals or other things like that she’s interested in. If you can connect to the internet, finding simple drawing tutorials is another thing that is fun to pass the time. If you’re on the way home, you can ask them to draw (or write if they’re old enough) about their favorite thing they did or saw on your trip.

I hope some of these tips helped you. Let me know if I missed something or if there is something you like to do to do or you think helps when traveling with kids.

Happy and safe travels!

 

 

Gifts

13 Dollar Store Gifts (and Stocking Stuffers)

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Some of these will work as gifts even on their own, but pretty nice gifts when put together with a few similar items.

  1. Perfume/cologne. These imitation fragrances smell really good through the package. I think they’re going to make great stocking stuffers. Yeah, it’s an imitation scent but I’m giving it to my family and my husband and 6 year old won’t care.

2.  Crafts. My daughter saw this particular Sand Art Kit on a Youtube video and has been asking for it ever since.  She’s going to love it!

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3. Puzzles. They had all kinds of Puzzles at my Dollar Tree. A lot of these would go for $3+ at other stores. This one is a Lisa Frank brand Pegasus, How cute?! Pegasus and Unicorns are really popular with kids right now and this one is perfect for my daughter. I bought an extra one as a gift for a family member. They even typically have nice puzzles with more pieces that would work well for teenagers and adults.

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4. Sticker/Coloring books. This one is particular nice and looks like it would definitely be more than $1, but if you can’t find this one, they typically have coloring books and packs of stickers with multiple pages that would make great stocking stuffers or small gifts paired with crayons/markers.

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5. Calendars. Some of their Calendars even have 2 in 1 like the Cats and Kittens calendars I found. This will make 2 separate gifts, one for each of my children. I also found this really cute Farmhouse Calendar, I bought one for a friend and one for myself. These type of wall calendars typically go for $9 and up!

6.  Fancy Soap. They had several varieties of fancy soaps. I think this would make a great stocking stuffer or might be good paired with a candle or pair of fuzzy socks.  I love that this particular one is made in the U.S.!

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7. “Bath Sponges” as they labeled them or shower loofahs as I call them are a great stocking stuffer or paired with a shower gel or homemade bath scrub or bath bomb. This came with 4 for one dollar! That’s 4 stocking stuffers for a dollar, can’t beat that!

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8. Epsom salts or “Bath Soak”. This would be great paired with this fancier loofah I found with maybe a candle or eye mask as a relaxation gift or great to add to a stocking.

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9. Stationary like this magnetic “To Do List”.  This would be a great addition to a stocking or with a calendar and a couple of nice pens.

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10. Manicure/nail kit. This one definitely looks like it costs more than just a buck.  I love the pretty butterfly theme. It would be perfect for a tween girl.

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11., 12., 13.  Mascara, Makeup Blending Sponge, and Lip Stain.  Wet N Wild and E.l.F. are brands you can find in most drug stores or Walmart/Target. The mascara retails for around $3 – $5 and the lip stain for about $2. The blending sponge is the Dollar Tree brand but you can’t find these most places for less than $3 and this seems like it’s the same material so that’s pretty good.  These might be better as stocking stuffers or packaged together as a gift but would be great for any girl old enough to wear makeup.

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Uncategorized

Visiting Blairsville (North Georgia)

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We recently took a camping trip to Vogel State Park.  Downtown Blairsville was just  a short trip down the road from our camp site and I just loved how quaint and charming it was.  One day we were out exploring and decided to try a local spot for lunch.  We had been told that “Hole in the Wall” was really good but it only takes cash and that’s something we rarely carry so we decided to checkout the “Saw Mill Place”.  It had a nice little store inside and I really loved the decor.  Their menu looked yummy and decently priced. I was pretty hopeful, but unfortunately when my food arrived, the chicken was dry and the breading was soggy. The mashed potatoes were pretty good but everything else was just alright.  I would compare it to a nicely decorated, upscale Cracker Barrel.  The things I picked were hit and miss but not bad at $9 including my drink, just not as good as I had hoped. They also serve breakfast and I would recommend trying it if you’re in town, but I wouldn’t call it “can’t miss” or anything.

 

 

The morning before we headed back home, we went into town to gas up and stopped by a nice little coffee shop I had heard good things about.  I absolutely recommend “Cabin Coffee Co.” and would label it a “can’t miss place”.  The inside is so cute and clean, I love the fireplace and all the homey cabin type furniture. I also really liked the friendly employees, my coffee and the amazing cinnamon roll!  They serve made to order food and several patrons had ordered breakfasts that looked really good (we had already eaten breakfast at our campsite but I couldn’t resist ordering a cinnamon roll to split).  I’ll definitely be back when we’re in the area.

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One of the things I really wanted to do while in Blairsville, was to stop in at a store called Mountain Crossings. It’s a haven for people hiking the Appalachian Trail, in fact, the A.T. actually goes right through the property, it’s the only covered part of the trail. This store has everything one would need for hiking, but also has A.T. patches, cool stickers, magnets, shirts, books and gifts.

All of their employees are former hikers and have extensive knowledge of the North Georgia area. The property also has a hostel for hikers and has an area with picnic tables and a gorgeous view.  Definitely, don’t miss out on this store, just a short drive from Vogel State Park.  Make sure you “hike the width of the Appalachian trail”, bring a camera to get a picture of the view and grab some awesome souvenirs.

 

Bell Mountain, while technically in Hiawassee and not Blairsville, is a short trip from where we were staying in Vogel State Park.  We asked our Camp Host about places to check out while we were in the area and he told us to “get some spray paint and go up to Bell Mountain”. We thought surely he must be crazy, there’s no way we wouldn’t get in trouble for painting on the side of a mountain. He gave us really bad directions (luckily we found it on our GPS) and completely failed to mention the “road of death” you must travel to get up it.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever been that scared in my life.  We traveled straight up a one lane road with steep drop offs and blind turns.  I was praying and closing my eyes, white knuckled and basically having an anxiety attack all while hoping we weren’t going to die or have a head on collision.  We finally made it to the top and it was almost worth it.  The views of Hiawassie and Lake Chatuge are amazing, some say better than Brasstown Bald, and the experience of being able to spray paint on the rock is one of the coolest things we’ve done on our travels. I was really skeptical but there is actually a sign that encourages you to paint on the rocks, as long as you don’t write anything vulgar.

 

Here’s the view overlooking Hiawasse and the sign that encourages rock painting.

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The sign says “Painting on rocks is permitted, NO vulgar language, DO NOT Paint Platforms, Steps, Fence or Asphalt, Destroying this Public Property which is under surveillance is subject to Criminal Prosecution in Superior Federal Court.”

I guess not everyone followed the rules unfortunately but it is a really cool place (although the road to get there is extremely scary) and I highly recommend you go if you are a daredevil and aren’t afraid of dangerous roads.

 

 

 

Helton Creek Falls is another out of the way beautiful attraction.  If you blink, you might miss the turn off with the sign for Helton Creek Falls.  I kind of thought it might be right there, shortly after we turned on the road, nope! Follow a one lane back road (that is also scary!) with steep drop offs for over 2 miles before you have to hike,luckily a fairly short and beautiful hike, to get to the lower falls, then go up steep stairs to get to the top. My husband said it wasn’t worth the trouble of the drive and hike but we had just experienced the craziness of the road to Bell Mountain and had some recent stress with our camper. Looking back, I think it is worth it, because it is so secluded and beautiful. It’s just good to know that there is quite a drive and small hike.

 

If you’d like to check out my post about camping at Vogel State Park, click here.

Gifts

Homemade Lotion (Dollar Store Ingredients)

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I recently had a friend on Facebook that started getting a ton of comments on how amazing this lotion was that she had made.  She said it all came from Dollar General, so I thought I would use a similar recipe but buy all my supplies from Dollar Tree. She said she used 3 ingredients: Baby lotion, Vaseline and Vitamin E Oil.  I didn’t really love the way the baby lotion at Dollar Tree smelled but they had an imitation Aveeno lotion, so I decided to use that instead. I also found a Petroleum Cream that I loved the smell of, so I decided to add that in also.  If you prefer to use non petroleum products, you could substitute it for coconut oil.  I found these 4 oz jelly jars at my local Target that I thought would be perfect to store the lotion in and give as gifts.  This was around $9 for 12 jars.  I ended up filling only 6 with my homemade lotion.  I thought about using the other half for a homemade scrub, what do you guys think?

Here are the canning jars in case you are wanting the same ones and wondering what the package looks like.  The 4 ingredients are what I used to make my Homemade Lotion, feel free to substitute the Petroleum Jelly products with coconut oil (I saw that at my dollar store too, it was in the hair section I believe).

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I added the whole bottle of lotion, petroleum jelly and creamy petroleum jelly, then about half the vitamin E (I didn’t want it to be too oily) I used my Kitchen Aid mixer to blend them together quickly. I’m sure any hand mixer would work or even a whisk (they usually have those at the dollar store too if you don’t have one already).

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This is how my mixture ended up looking once it was all blended.  I then just scooped the lotion into the jars with a spoon.  I love the way these little gifts turned out! It gives a handmade touch to an inexpensive but nice homemade gift.  Because I often don’t care to read the stories or information on blogs (yeah I’m lazy) and just like to get straight to the recipe, here it is, for those of you who read none of the above 🙂

Homemade Lotion:

1 Jar Moisturizing lotion

1 Jar Petroleum Jelly (I used one with a “baby soft scent”)

1 Tube Creamy Petroleum Jelly

1/2 bottle of Vitamin E Oil

Mix with mixer or whisk until well blended and spoon into jars

I used 4 oz canning jars I picked up from Target.

This is my very first DIY blog post. I hope you enjoyed this inexpensive and easy gift.  Give me a follow on Facebook for more tips and ideas Southern Charmed Kind of Life (Facebook)

 

 

Southern Travel

Exploring North Georgia: Vogel State Park

img_8031              The kids had a week off school for Thanksgiving so we decided to make the most of it and a book an RV site for a few days of camping and exploring in North Georgia.  I’ve been wanting to visit the beautiful North Georgia mountains, so I decided to book a campsite at Vogel State Park. We hadn’t been before but I’d heard a lot of great things about it and it was high on my list of state parks I wanted to visit.  We arrived at dusk, right before their general store closed and were able to check in and get a bundle of wood.  I’m glad we arrived when we did, because I wouldn’t have understood the “choose your own site” system they have.  You basically have an area of sites to pick from and just find an open one you like, park and hang up a little tag they give you.  The sites were pretty roomy, you definitely have people around you but not too close.  No sites really had what I would consider a “nice view” but they were pretty and surrounded by trees. The camp hosts stopped by shortly after and were very helpful in answering in questions we had and letting us know what site they were at in case we needed anything.   There was a concrete picnic table, fire ring and charcoal grill located on our site. We had electric and water hook ups but no sewer, which we were not prepared for! I thought I remembered reading that the sites were full hook-up, they are not.  There are dump stations at the front of the park so that was convenient.  In the morning we figured out that we were right next to some slightly hidden bathrooms/showers. There weren’t any signs for them and we were only able to find them because of the map they gave us at check in.  The restrooms weren’t the greatest, just two showers that are a little old and dingy and I definitely recommend shower shoes.  There were several dead bugs in one shower stall and a live and very large spider in one of the bathroom stalls (eww). There are other bathrooms in the park we came across but they had shower curtains instead of locking doors and I’d rather have a dingy locking shower than a nicer shower with only a curtain. There is also tent camping and cottages located in the park, if you want to check it out but don’t have a camper or RV.  And FYI, the roads there are a little scary so beware if you aren’t fond of curvy roads with steep drop offs. We actually encountered that several times in our travels in that area, you can read more about that here

 

 

We went during the fall, but there is also a sandy beach and kayak, paddle board and peddle boat rentals that you can take advantage of if you are there during the warmer months.  Besides the amazing view at the lake, my favorite thing had to be the waterfall.  There aren’t a lot of signs for it, but its a pretty easy walk. You just follow the trail around the lake, headed away from the parking lot and you’ll come to a path near the spillover in the center.  You just follow that a short little ways and it will bring you straight to Trahlyta Falls.  It’s about a mile round trip and the skill level is listed as beginner so it’s pretty easy and is something that all people of all ages and activity levels can enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Overall, it was a really great experience but I don’t know that I would go there just to camp if you weren’t planning on doing activities around town.  I’m not sure there would be enough to keep you entertained, except maybe during the Summer when you can swim at the beach and rent things to play in the water. There wasn’t a lot offered at the campground except a playground and a mini golf course, but it was pretty cold when we went so not very conducive to those kinds of things. Also, not having a sewer hookup was a big turn off. We’re a family of 4, so just using the sink to wash our hands and rinse our dishes off uses a fair amount of water.  I did love the area, and do plan on coming back for a visit, if you want to read more about the area, check out my post about Visiting Blairsville. We passed a fair number of other campgrounds, so I might check into places that are a little nicer for our return trip, but I will definitely stop in at Vogel State Park to hike around the lake and visit the waterfall!