Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Vansgiving

We decided to do things a little nontraditional this year and for go the big hoopla of a meal and all that comes with it. Wednesday afternoon I was able to get out of work a bit early and make it home just in time to help the hubbs finish packing up the Westy. Shortly after we where on our way to celebrate our first holiday of what I am sure will be many to come in the Westy. Vansgivning!!!! 
We arrived at Montgomery Bell State Park just after sun set, set up camp (which in the Westy is seriously so easy.) While the hubbs worked on starting a fire I started getting dinner ready. Bean & Cheese Quesadilla with a side of chips and salsa. We are still trying to figure out what meals work for us on the road / camping and what doesn't so we decided to keep it as simple and easy this time around. We spend the better part of our evening around the fire just enjoying the evening. The weather was perfect not to chilly at all. We roasted marshmallow, made s'mores, and chatted with the In-Loves a bit. 
The next morning we, well I tried to sleep in some but the pups and my ever so lovely automatic alarm clock in my head just didn't let me. One beautiful thing about arriving to your camp site after dark is when you wake up you get to see the beautiful surroundings around you. The stream running right behind us, and the lush trees made for a cozy sight. Which simply put that pep in my step for a early start to our day. Sausage, Eggs and a bagel for breakfast while sipping on some Hot Chocolate. After breakfast we headed out to do a little exploring around the camp site with the pups. I managed to get in over 8000 steps before 10:30 that morning. It always fun to take the pups out walking along the trails, they get so excited. 
The plan was to have Thanksgiving lunch at the Park Resort. It was only 3 miles away so we knew we would just ride our bikes up there. Literally up, it was mostly up hill half way there. Around 11:00am we decided to make our way over to the Resort, knowing we'd probably have to wait a little bit we wanted to get a early start. Much to our surprise the Resort Restaurant was already packed full of waiting guest's to eat. We where told it would be about a 45 minute wait, which really didn't seem to be that bad considering the amount of people there. It gave us time to catch our breath and cool down from our ride. Lunch / Dinner was served Buffet style, with all the traditional Thanksgiving foods and then some. I'd never been to anything like this before and I asked the hubbs if he had either and he said nope. I didn't really know what to expected. I was so used to doing everything myself and or being with family. This was all so new to me, but let me tell you the food did not disappoint. It was simply fabulous, hot, fresh and kept us full. It wasn't a bad deal at all for $15.95 you could enjoy a feast till your heart desired and that we did, dessert included. Although I couldn't help but think about the fact that we had to ride our bikes back. 
We headed out to the parking lot and the hubbs mentioned he figured out a short cut. Ok, I'm all about that, although he failed to mentioned that we would first have to carry our bikes down a couple flight's of stairs ride across a bridge and then straight up close to 100+ stairs to get back up on the road. I wearing boots, blue jeans, a sweat and not to mention I'd just stuffed my face with loads of food. So to say I struggle just a tiny bit would be a true statement. 
The pups did so well staying in the Westy while we where gone. We didn't think we would be gone that long but I'm so glad they didn't mess anything up or get into anything.
 What else do you do after a full Thanksgiving feast, crash out. And that's just what we did. The four of us passed out on the bed. We left the door open to enjoyed the nice breeze coming through and the pups did so good, they didn't even get up to go out once. 
Later that afternoon we went on another little trail hike across the stream back behind our camp site. I loved how it was super dog friendly and yet gave us a pretty good work out at the same time. Gotta work off all that goodness we ate right. 
That evening our site-neighbors arrive, we chatted with them a bit, cooked up some skillet pizza's for dinner, made some s'mores and relaxed around the campfire.
We knew we wanted to head home shortly after breakfast the next morning and of course I did everything I could to sleep in but it just didn't happen. So up early again, I cooked us up some eggs, bacon and potatoes that we enjoyed and then we went on a little walk to get some of the pups energy out before heading out. 
It was the perfect Vansgiving, just the two of us. The weather was amazing the entire time!!! No hustle and bustle of trying to get a big meal prepped and cooked or being on a time schedule having to be at one place or another. I am very traditional and generally want to do things the old fashion way but this was perfect for us. As I grow and experience life I've learned and come to realize that its not all about doing things like everyone else or going all out but rather simply just about being with the ones that matter and that was just what we did this weekend. It was simply but it was perfect!!! 

I Hope You and Your Family had a Wonderful Thanksgiving and are Enjoying the Holiday Season. 


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cooking for Two: 4th Edition

French Toast Bites
Quesadilla Stuff Pita Pockets, Side Salad 
Veggie Loaded Chili, Homemade Cornbread 
Black Bean Soup : Fixate 
Homemade Pumpkin Dream Cake 
Chicken Noodle Soup 
Peanut Butter Pancakes topped with Banana's & Homemade Strawberry Jam
Homemade Pumpkin Rolls with Salted Carmel Icing 
Ground Turkey Veggie Skillet 
Black Bean Quinoa Bake 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

8 Years and Counting, Since We Said "I DO"

We celebrated our 8th Wedding Anniversary Yesterday. We spent the weekend in Gatlinburg, TN in a cute little cabin nestled in the woods. Life couldn't have been more perfect!!
We headed out Friday late morning after spending a unplanned hour+ getting the oil changed in my car. Never the less we where on our way. First stop was lunch before getting on the highway. Hubbs asked what I wanted, we agreed we'd grab something quick and easy. As against eating Fast Food any more I responded with Chick-fil-a. I hadn't had CFA since my Birthday back in April and for some strange reason it sounded like the best idea ever!!!! I mean it was our anniversary weekend after all so why not splurge a little.
We arrived in downtown Gatlinburg around 6pm that evening after sitting through traffic in Pigeon Forge for almost a hour. Talk about crazy, simply to go about 12 miles. At least it gave us plenty of time to plan out our day for Saturday. Looking at all the shops and sights we knew we had a packed day ahead of us. We found our cabin, looked around and decided since it was still early to head out on the town. The streets where crawling with people...locals and tourists from every where. There where so many cute little shops that we popped in and out of on our quest to find the perfect dinner destination. We ended up at a little Mexican joint right when you come into downtown by the Aquarium. The hubbs and I are all about some good Mexican food, even with the wait being almost a hour. We walked into the bar area which was our doors to get a drink while we waited and lucky for us it was open seating first come first serve. We snagged a table just in time and whelp there went that hour wait. Dinner was so tasty, I really don't drink all that often when we go out. Partly because I'm cheap and partly because I really try to watch my calorie intake and what I eat / drink but that Strawberry Banana Margarita was sounding pretty fabulous. I love anything Strawberry Banana Mixed so why not give this a try I though. Plus we're on vacay right!?!?! :) It lived up and was the best. 

We strolled up the other side of the street on our way back checking out the different stores before grabbing Ice Cream from MayPops on our way back to our cabin. I love love ice cream, my favorite is Peppermint and / or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Neither of which they had in stock but they did have Banana Pudding and Cookies' n Cream. I'll take two scoops, one of each in a cups please. If I would have known the size of their single scoop I'm pretty sure I would have only ordered one scoop I was huge. A double scoop was like almost 4 scoops for a normal ice cream joint. You better believe it was good, I couldn't finish it though. I would have been so sick. We spend the rest of the evening relaxing in our warm cozy cabin.

The next morning we strolled down to Crockett's Breakfast Camp for a tasty morning meal. I loved how everything was within walking distance. It made it so nice not to have to mess with parking. Well, Let me tell you they did not disappoint. Between the hubbs Eggs Benedict, my Create Your Own Biscuit and the FRIED Cinnamon Roll we split we where definitely happen Campers when we left. 

We spent the majority of the day in Pigeon Forge doing some shopping and random sight seeing. We had no idea there was a outlet mall there as well as 3 different stores that sold Fiestaware. We definitely made out good with some new finds. It a bit of a dreary day, kinda cloudy so at least we did have anything big planned outside. We where so busy with shopping that we kept pushing lunch back and before we knew it, it was almost 4:30pm and we where starved. Originally we where going to try out a place back in Gatlinburg near our cabin for dinner but we knew that would be at least a hour or so drive be time we got back to our cabin and walked down there. So we decided we'd try out Paula Dean's Restaurant we spotted earlier in the day. Hey its not 5pm yet there shouldn't be to long of a wait right?!??! Yea, that's what though. After having to park almost a half a mile away, (the shopping area it was in, include a hotel and lots of other sights so it was a huge area.) and finally getting to the restaurant we where told it would be almost a 2 hour wait. aaaaahhhhh you've got to be kidding me. Whelp, the hubbs stuck it out and said that was fine. I really would have been fine going some where else but he's such a good sport. We spent the next hour or so checking out the different shops and doing a little sight seeing there on what they called "The Island" before parking out booties in the rockers out front. Dinner was fabulous, or course did you really expect anything different. Although for the wait and price I'm not sure we will be going back but at least we can say we've been right. :)
We finally made our way back to our cabin and since it was still early we decided we would go ahead and check out the Ripley's Aquarium. I mean because we had done enough walking already that day. It was so nice though because it was later in the evening it wasn't crowded at all, there wasn't a ton of little kids running around every where and we were able to really take our time and look at everything we wanted to without having to wait for the little people to move. We always try to make a point to visit the local aquarium where ever we go since we where married in one. We did a bit more walking around downtown afterwards before, calling it a night and heading back. We where exhausted and my feet where killing me.
Sunday morning we went to FlapJack's for breakfast for some yummy pancakes. I had Peanut butter and Banana. They where pretty good but we both agreed we loved Crockett's even better. After breakfast we stopped in a local donut shop that we both had wanted to try out. yes Even though we had just eaten. We did pick up a little treat for later in the day. :) From there we rode the sky lift up to the top of the mountain right there in downtown. And since we got there so early we didn't have to worry with waiting. Which meant we literally walked right up and sat down in our lift chairs. I didn't have much time at all to think about what we where doing and we a little nervous on the way up. The view from up top offered such stunning sights. It was simply gorgeous. Looking down over the city, we could even see our cabin. We eventually headed back down and to the cabin where our day continued. 
 We spent the better part of our day driving through and exploring through the Great Smoky Mountains, a first for both of us. As we drove through the mountains to Cade's Cove it was simply beautiful. The trees changing colors and the different look out area's offered such breath taking views. I could have spent all day just wondering around within the mountains taking it all in. 
Eventually though we had to call it a day, the sun was setting and we where starting to get a bit hungry. So back to the cabin to freshen up before heading out to dinner at Cherokee Grill. And because my husband loves me, and supports my love of Ice Cream we went back to MayPops for a little after dinner dessert. Snug in bed, next to a warm cozy fire was the prefect way to end our last night away. 
Monday morning we woke up, Happily Married 8 Years. I can't believe its been EIGHT YEARS, since we said "I DO"!!! Some days it seems like it should be much longer and other days it seems as though we just got married last month. Either way I wouldn't change it for the world!! We decided to go back to Crockett's Breakfast Camp for Breakfast since we both loved it so much the first time. 
After a quick walk through downtown we decided to call it a trip and start heading back. It raining and we didn't want to have to drive home wet and cold so it worked out just fine. We made a stop in Knoxville and toured the Knoxville History Museum on our way back. The plan was to go to a fancy little Steak House in downtown Clarksville since it was our Anniversary night but thankfully on the way home I looked up the hours.... sadly only to find out they where closed on Mondays. No biggie we will go to such and such place in Hop-Town, womp womp they where closed as well. We couldn't decide where we wanted to go. I wanted something different a bit fancy but everything was closed on Monday nights. Yes we HAD to go Monday night because it was OUR NIGHT. So w agreed we go to  the steak house another night and ended up at Cheddars for dinner. Its ok, it worked out perfect, we had a tasty meal and where home early enough to relax and enjoy our Anniversary dessert we'd picked up earlier in the day. 

I absolutely love love celebrating our Anniversary together, we have been so lucky to have only missed being together for 2 out of the 8 years. Which being in the army life that's pretty rare. We've already talked about what we want to do to celebrate for the next two years and I can't wait!!! It was by far a fabulous weekend, we made so many wonderful memories. I cherish each and every moment we have together. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Our 1st LBL Camping Adventure

We took the Westy out for our first Camping Adventure this past weekend at LBL also known as Land Between the Lakes. Its a pretty huge recreational area that sits going through TN and KY and yes you guessed it, its surrounded by water. Although just driving through at first you wouldn't know that. There's so so much to do at LBL, this was only our second time out there. The first time was last fall before the hubbs deployed and then we just made a day trip out of it and drove around checking out different areas and what there was to do and see.
At the beginning of the week the hubbs mentioned going camping, kinda out of know where. I though it was kinda odd since we agreed we'd wait till we got the upholstery redone on the inside in a week or so. But hey, I didn't have school that weekend and we didn't really have any other plans so I mean why not. We booked a camp sight not really knowing where it was located and went with it.
Friday since the hubbs was off work he picked up a few things we needed to our little adventure. Also trying to see if could get the stove in the Westy looked at. It runs off propane and we are 100% sure it works and well frankly we don't want to cause any damage trying to start / light it. Not having any luck with the local shops here we decided we'd just get a little camping stove to take along with us. We'd planned on buying one at some point any how, so it worked out. He spent the rest of the afternoon loading up the Westy and getting everything ready, so when I got home I just had to change and we could head out.
On our way there it was raining, it had been raining the whole afternoon but I had hopes that since our camp ground location was on the opposite end of LBL that we'd be fine and that we where it had cleared out just shortly before we arrived. Although since it was the first time driving her out in the rain we did notice a leak in the sky light / sunroof on the top. It wasn't horrible but something we need to add to our todo list for sure.
Once we arrived and set up "camp" we started up a fire and made some dinner. Chicken Noodle Soup it was. We bought on of those packets that you simply add boiling water to and let it cook in the bag for so long and TADA its done!!! We enjoyed our first meal in the Westy followed by Hot Chocolate and S'mores over a nice little camp fire. I set up the inside bed while the hubbs and pups relaxed and took in the night stars. It was absolutely beautiful out there, so calm and peaceful. It was so nice to be away. We had no cell phone reception which was nice because we where able to disconnect from the world and really spend time with each other.
I'm the mean on between the two of us, I wouldn't let the pups sleep with us that night. I mean come on the bed is pretty much the size of a full size bed and when you have a 115lb dog and a 45lb dog plus the two of us that's quite a bit on one bed. We turned the passenger seat around and Dingo slept up there and I brought a old blanket and Bailey slept on the floor. Everyone made out fine and they didn't seem to butt hurt. Plus I really wasn't wanting them on our brand new bedding we had just bought. The hubbs took the night shift in letting them out to potty, because you know they just had to go. So, I kindly got kicked out of bed for the morning shift to take them out, and boy was it chilly. Lucky for him I had to use the restroom myself so other wise I would have not gotten my butt up outta bed.
We spent the morning making breakfast over our little camp stove and enjoyed the crisp fall air. Shortly after breakfast we decided to take the pups on a little walk about the camp grounds and explore the area some more. It was such a beautiful place, and the views of the lake at some of the camp sites where amazing. We definitely made note on a few sites we'd like to book in the future. After our walk we lounged around a bit, the hubbs rode his bike up to local store to check it out and over heard one of the workers about a walking trail. So we decided to leash up the pups again and take them for a walk. They did really good and lucky for them got in lots of extra exercise through out the day. Once we got back to our campsite I decided to fix lunch, Guacamole Shredded Chicken in Pita Bread with a Apple / Grape Salad. It was so tasty!!!! The hubbs decided he was going to be lazy and take a nap so I went for a nice little bike ride around the camp grounds, checking out the other side that we hadn't walked. 45 minutes later I finally made my way back. That's when the hubbs decided he was gonna go for a ride. We could have gone together but We really didn't wanna leave the pups alone in the Westy. I took advantage of the bed to myself and took a little nap. It was the best, I just laid there with the door open and even let the pups lay on the bed with me. Shocker I know!! When he got back he had the wild idea to go get ice cream at the general store up the road. We made it a family outing and the pups walked up with us, I had brought with us some special treats for them so I took a couple with us so they could enjoy something while we where eating our ice cream.

We lounged around a bit more that afternoon, played with a wooden airplane the hubbs had bought and decided we head back that evening, instead of early in the morning as planned. (hubbs had to be in Nashville super early Sunday morning) Not before dinner over our campfire, Chili Hot Dogs. I couldn't even tell you the last time I ate a hotdog, let alone a Chili Hotdog. Not my thing but there's something about camping that brings them out and makes it ok to eat. Of course since we had a fire going we had to make up some S'mores. It's not a camping trip without stuffing your with the yummy goodness of chocolate and marshmallows smushed and melted between two graham crackers.

It was the perfect way to end our much needed relaxing little get away.
We even took a different way home that evening so we were able to see a new to us part of KY and it was such a beautiful drive. I can't wait to go back out camping and for all the fun adventure we have ahead of us in our Westy!!!! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cooking for Two: 3rd Edition

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (Fixate)
 Strawberry Rolls w/ Cream Cheese Icing
 Breakfast for dinner: French Toast, Egg Scramble and Bacon
 Grilled BBQ Chicken Pita Pizza 
Homemade Sicilian Chicken Soup 
 Broccoli Chicken Mac n' Cheese (Fixate)
 Family Style Breakfast Biscuits, Homemade Sausage Gravy, Eggs and Bacon