Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like.....Thanksgiving!

I hear a lot of people complain that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all rolled into one big holiday. retail it certainly seems true.  A local radio station used to play Christmas music starting the day after Thanksgiving, but this year you can already hear it being played!  I personally can't start NOW with Christmas.  I need to savor each holiday as it comes and enjoy each for what it is.  So as for me and MY house...we are enjoying Thanksgiving now and saving Christmas for later! 

The Seasonal Tree
I even managed a craft night with my sister to work on a craft specific to Thanksgiving! 
Pinterest is amazing!  You can make your own Thom the Turkey...instructions here. 
Along with the Thanksgiving decorations I have also been checking off things from our Fall 2014 list...things like visit Carter Mountain and try a new winery.
Carter Mountain Orchard
The Blueridge Mountains of Virginia off in a distance

The vineyards of Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain Orchard, in Charlottesville, is a favorite for families during autumn months.  We visited last year and wanted to revisit but I knew better than to try going before Halloween.  It's just too packed with people to enjoy it.  We visited the third weekend in November and it was perfect.  No big crowds, no long lines, no Tonya screaming for people to MOVE!   Ha ha!  We scarfed down a dozen apple cider donuts and hot apple cider before going.  I also bought some fresh apples to take home for a couple recipes I want to try. 
After our quick visit at Carter Mountain we visited a couple local wineries, Blenheim and First Colony.  Trump Winery is also close but it was so busy that parking was hard to we skipped that one and figured we could visit there on a later day. 
Blenheim Winery-owned by Dave Matthews

Visitors willing to brave the chilly temps

The view from the deck at Blenheim

First Colony Winery

Our baby girl making friends with the winery cat

At Blenheim we bought a bottle of the Painted White.  At First Colony we bought a couple bottles of their 2013 Rose and a bottle of  2013 Zephyr. 
Both had ideal spots for picnicking and relaxing.  But if you are looking for a place with a view I would suggest Blenheim. 
I still have a few "Autumn" things to check off our list...I mean it's not fall unless you can say you hiked in the woods with all the fallen leaves...right?  This weekend we will celebrate Thanksgiving with a dinner at Mark's grandmothers.  Then next week we will celebrate again with dinner at my sister's.  I look forward to the time with our family and to time giving thanks for the many blessings in our lives. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Shot Tower State Park

Way back in August after biking along the trails of the New River State Park, our bunch, made a small detour to visit Shot Tower State Park, in Foster Falls.  You can either drive in through the main entrance or come up from the bike trails of the New River State Park.  If you drive in and park there is a parking fee, biking in is free. 

According to the official state website the tower was built over 200 years ago to make ammunition for early settlers.  Today it's on the National Register of Historic Places.  On this particular hot day in August it was a nice place to slow down and catch our breath. 
There are tours offered select weekends in the summer but this particular day no tours were going on.  There were placards with information about the tower to read and you could peek inside the tower through a door at the base of it.  This park marked out 21st Virginia State Park to visit.  Since our visit here we actually visited one more so that leave 15 in Virginia to go!

The view from the Shot Tower of the New River

Stairs leading from the New River Trail to the Shot Tower
Trestle crossing on the New River Trails right before the Shot Tower

The park does not have camping or overnight facilities.  It is strictly a dawn to dusk park.  There were picnic tables and bathrooms available for use to visitors.  But if you want to camp near by I might suggest here.  Happy exploring :-) 

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Back-To-School Seasonal Tree

Here at our house it's that time of year again...the air is starting to chill just ever so slightly, the leaves have a started to yellow and bus engines are cranking for the first time since summer...BACK to SCHOOL.  I am a self proclaimed dork....I admit it.  I love this time of year!  I love the start of school.  New pencils.  New pens.  New notebooks.  New free time because kids are into their activities.  And a newly decorated seasonal tree to celebrate.

Every kid in my neighborhood probably thinks I have lost my mind!  But we like to have a little fun with the back to school theme.

Mini lunch boxes from Michael's, Crayon ornaments, school bus ornaments, #1 teacher ornaments, flash cards with a hook through them and glass balls in the primary colors make up the decorations on the tree.  The flags I ordered off of Amazon a couple years back.  The pencil vase I made using a tin can and pack of pencils. 

Tuesday the kids officially start back.  This will be an exciting year since I will have a Sophomore and SENIOR! 

This Labor Day weekend we have a few plans in the works.  Hope you have a safe and happy holiday folks. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Biking at New River State Park

I told you last week about our camping experience at New River Trail State Park.  If you missed it you can read about it here.  But since the park is so vast I thought our biking experience should have it's own post.  Foster Falls is almost right in the middle of the 57 mile long park.  So we actually took a couple days to spread out the biking.  We in no way covered all of the park, in fact not even close.  So I can only show you a few miles of what the park offers.

Our first day we headed North to Lone Ash.  Along the way we saw a deserted house, caves, a cemetery, cabins and plenty of scenic river front.


In Lone Ash there is a vault bathroom and picnic area.

After day one we turned around and headed back to camp.  It wasn't until day two we realized by back break was rubbing which resulted in the baby feeling like a lead weight the entire trip!  Day two was MUCH smoother!

Day two we went North...and interesting fact: The New River is one of the very few rivers that runs North, not South.  This time we went as far North as Ivanhoe.  We again passed bathrooms and picnic areas. 

Heading over the New River at Ivanhoe

While out on this trip we passed through one of the old train tunnels on the trail.  While in there it started raining buckets!  But we figured we lucked out since we were dry inside the tunnel.  The ride back was a messy one! 

Going North on the trail from Foster Falls you pass behind Shot Tower State Park.  You can dismount and check out the park and it's gorgeous views.

See what I mean about messy!

View from Shot Tower State Park

It was a great experience and I would go back in a heartbeat. I know that there is so much more of the park to see and explore.

Monday, August 25, 2014


This past weekend Mr. Busy Bryant and myself visited Wintergreen Resort in Nelson County Virginia.  Wintergreen was playing host to the Super Spartan race and we were crazy enough to sign up!  Apparently though there were over 7,000 other crazy people so I don't feel so deranged.  Mark and I went with a team and staying in one of the most amazing places ever.  The view alone from the patio was worth going.

Our team mates are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met.  I can't say we did much running at the race.  It seemed like all we did was go straight up mountains and then straight down them...but we did laugh together...A LOT.  And I'm pretty sure we all cussed together the next morning as our sore muscles screamed for help!

Today we are back home...starting the work week, planning birthday parties, working on back-to-school projects and yes still nursing the screaming muscles.  Hope you had a great weekend my friends!