14 Places You Must See in the North Georgia Mountains

 

 

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“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going homes; that wilderness is a necessity…” – John Muir

My happy place is in the mountains of North Georgia/Western North Carolina. The area is so unique because you are on the border of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Just a short drive can take you to so many different and unique places. Since our family has been going almost every year for as long as I can remember, I have rounded up some of the must see places in this beautiful region!

1. Nantahala River

Located outside Bryson City, North Carolina, the Nantahala River is great for white water rafting, zip lining and hiking. We have been white water rafting here several times and the rapids are mild but can be a little tricky (we have had a few riders bounce out of the rafts). More info about the Nantahala River can be found here: https://noc.com/plan-your-trip/nantahala-river

2. Andy’s Trout Farm

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Andy’s Trout Farm is a fun little day trip for families. My grandfather took us here when we were very young, and repeated the trip for my son’s 3rd birthday this year. Lots of special memories in this picturesque place. They have several fully stocked trout ponds and even a place to get married! Andy’s is in Otto, North Carolina and you can find out more info here: https://www.andystroutfarm.com

3. Wayah Bald

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Wayah Bald is a high-altitude treeless open area in Nantahala National Forest, near Franklin, North Carolina. The Wayah Bald Observation Tower is located at the area’s highest point (5,385 feet) and the was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 for fire detection. The Appalachian Trail and Bartram Trail cross at Wayah Bald. It is a short easy walk to the tower and the view is absolutely breath-taking and is always a must-see for us.

4. Goats on the Roof

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Real talk, I love goats. Goats on the Roof in Tiger, Georgia is a fun family stop to feed some goats, eat some nitro homemade ice cream and do a little shopping. Check them out here: http://www.goats-on-the-roof.com

5. Lake Rabun

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While we have never stayed on the lake, we have gone there several times. Lake Rabun in Lakemont, Georgia is a beautiful lake with some beautiful houses. There are hotels, rental houses and restaurants around the lake and it is very close to a bunch of other great attractions.

6. Clayton, Georgia

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Clayton is usually the closest town to us when we stay in the mountains. It is full of cute little shops, restaurants and bars. The town has gotten decidedly more hip in the last 10 years or so. We always have a good time in Clayton.

7. Helen, Georgia

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Helen, GA is a really unique town that is a must-see in Georgia. Located on the Chattahoochee River, Helen is a Bavarian Village­ in the Georgia mountains. It is a lot of fun when decorated for Christmas or to explore in summer. You can even grab an inner-tube and float right through town on the river!

8. 12 Spies Vineyard

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While Georgia isn’t necessarily known for its wineries,  12 spies Vineyards is a little taste of the west coast in Georgia. Located in Rabun County, 12 spies has some uniquely southern and delicious wines. Some of my favorites are the Muscadine Wine and Front Porch Peach.

9. Highlands, NC

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In addition to a multitude of outdoor activities in the surrounding Nantahala National Forest, Highlands boasts exquisite restaurants, fabulous shopping and a great cultural arts scene. The “postcard” downtown offers plenty of art galleries, antique stores and upscale boutiques. Five of the restaurants have been awarded the coveted Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. In the middle of downtown Highlands is Old Edwards Inn and Spa, a resort consisting of the historic main building, a full-service European–style spa, Madison’s Restaurant and Wine Garden.

10. Secret Falls

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Just 6.5 miles from busy downtown Highlands is this hidden oasis that is definitely a secret to many. Secret Falls (also known as Big Shoals Falls) is a gorgeous 50-ft. waterfall on Big Creek that cascades into a serene pool. We had a lot of fun playing in the water at the bottom of the falls.

It’s a moderately easy half-mile hike, but there are no signs to the parking area. So, this remote area is mostly visited by locals. There’s one lone stake in the small parking area at the start of the trail that says “Secret Falls.”

11. Minnehaha Falls

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Located on Lake Rabu, Minnehaha Falls is a short, easy hike to a beautiful, towering waterfall.

12. Anna Ruby Falls

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Anna Ruby Falls is a beautiful  and rare double waterfall. Located near Unicoi State Park and Helen, GA, it is a fantastic kid-friendly, stroller-friendly and dog-friendly hike (I have even done the hike while pregnant!).

13. Tallulah Gorge

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Tallulah Gorge is one of the 7 wonders of Georgia, and there is a reason why! The gorge is approximately 2 miles long and features rocky cliffs up to 1,000 feet high. Through it, a series of falls known as Tallulah Falls drop a total of 490 ft in one mile. There are 6 separate waterfalls to hike through and a suspension bridge! While it is a tough hike, it is certainly worth it.

14. Chattooga River

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The Chattooga River has quickly become one of our favorite places to hang out. It is a very short drive from Clayton and is short easy hike down. There are two separate parts of the river and both are very cool. The top part is fast moving and has lots of rapids (and rafters!). The bottom part of the river is very slow moving and is almost like a beach with its sandy shoreline. Our son loves playing in the shallow water and we spend hours hanging out!

 

These are just a few of my favorite places in the North Georgia mountains. Let me know what places you love and which ones I am missing!

 

 

 

 

10 Inspiring Quotes for Moms

Being a mom is hard, ya’ll. And this week has been especially hard.

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My tiny best friend has been a trooper this week when the world was pretty hard on him too.  I made some difficult calls this week knowing I was putting my things ahead of my son and I feel incredibly guilty about it. Honestly though, as parents, we have to make these kinds of decisions daily. I am being hard on myself this week and I needed some reminders that we are all just doing our best. I have rounded up some of my favorite quotes that have helped me put life into perspective.

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Deep breaths, momma. We got this. ♥

10 Things for Fall

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Took a longish break but I am back at it with my top 10 favorite things right now!

  1. Cowboys love fat calves – or so the Bandit once said. Lucky for me, there are some really great wide calf riding boots out there these days. I live in this pair all Fall. The color is a deep maroon and matches EVERYTHING.
  2. I picked up a plaid cape in Scotland a few years ago, and it has become my all-time favorite Fall/Winter staple. Wearing a blanket in public and looking cute while doing it? Sign me up. You can pick up a similar one here.
  3. I am so jealous of those women who can let their hair air dry and still look put together. I, on the other hand, look like I just walked out of a wind tunnel when I let my hair air dry. Blow drying my hair typically takes me about 30 minutes, plus another 30 minutes with a curling iron or straightener. I recently heard about the Revlon Salon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer and it is a Game. Changer. It blow dries and straightens my hair at the same time and takes 10-15 minutes TOTAL. I have been completely blown away at how awesome this tool is.
  4. It’s Fall, ya’ll. And if you are from the South it means one thing – football season. In my town, we bleed Garnet and Gold and I cannot wait to watch the Florida State University Seminoles on the field this year. Go Noles!
  5. My book goal for this year is 150 new (to me) books. I am well into the 100’s right now but this book has been one of my favorites. The Weight of Lies is a creepy, atmospheric thriller that plunges its heroine into the mystery behind a cult classic horror novel. The book is a fascinating tale of secrets and lies that I couldn’t put down.
  6. In this super digital world, it is really nice to go analog every now and then. I have gotten into bullet journaling (BuJo) this past year and I love my Leuchtturm 1917 notebook. The blank pages are numbered and dotted so I can stay organized and get creative with my layouts.
  7. Fall typically means PSL, but those can get pricey. Some of us need all of the caffeine, all of the time. I am a double-shot-of-espresso-a-day kind of girl and I am obsessed with my Nespresso. The shots are always strong and delicious. You can sweeten it up with pumpkin syrup, if you’re into that kind of thing.
  8. I jumped on the bandwagon and purchased an Instant Pot during a big sale on Amazon. I have say, this thing is pretty awesome. I have been trying some super basic recipes and every single one has turned out great. It is pretty great to throw everything in the pot and walk away. There is zero babysitting involved and meals cook pretty fast. I will be doing a post of my favorite Instant Pot recipes soon so stand by!
  9. One of my favorite Bloggers/Instagrammers, Helene in Between, tipped me off to this mascara. I love it so far. It makes my lashes long and defined without a ton of build-up or clumping. Effortless makeup is always a win.
  10. Last but not least is Smith’s Rosebud Salve. With dryer weather, comes chapped lips. This salve makes my lips super soft and has a really pretty rose hue to it. It also is great to clear up dry patches on your skin!

What are your favorite products right now?

10 Things

10 Things Spring.pngSpring is in the air! This warmer weather is giving me a serious case of wanderlust. Whether you are traveling and taking insta-worthy pictures, laying on the beach with a good book or need some other inspiration, this is a list of my current must-haves.

1 . This dress is perfect for Spring. I got it a few weeks ago and the compliments have been non-stop. Plus it’s so comfortable! Is there anything better?

2. Spring gives me serious hat-envy. I picked this one up recently and keep looking for excuses to wear it.

3. I am a terrible girl, and never could quite master the curling iron. I have been loving the beachwaver curling iron. Takes zero skill, and my hair is amazing.

4. I have read dozens of books this year, but this one has been my favorite so far. It has a little sci-fi feel to it, but it is done really well and the story kept me really engaged. This author also has another series that I really loved too called The Chronos Files.

5. This is my current must-have app! It is perfect for editing travel pictures and is super easy to use.

6. Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray is an essential for summer hair. A part mousse (but way lighter), part salt spray (but less gritty)—for big, beachy texture.

7. How cute is this iPhone case for when the travel bug bites?

8. I have been living in this shirt lately. Slightly oversized, jersey material and super flattering. This is a Spring staple when paired with boyfriend jeans and sandals.

9. Ridiculously adorable weekender bag. I have been lusting over it for weeks!

10. My new favorite website! I recently used it to update my resume and it was amazing. I have been using it for graphic design at work and even for this post! It makes being creative really easy.

 

 

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Mason’s First Year

When I had my son two years ago, I knew I wanted to do monthly pictures of his first year. It seems like everyone does these now, so I wanted to do something a little different but also captured his personality and ours.

I merged several ideas I had seen online and came up with these little gems!

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To start, I went to JoAnn Fabrics and bought several yards of different color felt I would need for the whole year. I got colors like light blue, green, black, white and brown that I knew I would be able to use every month. The other props came from just random things I had laying around my house. For this month, I used the blue for the background sky and the green for the grass. I used some big pieces of brown kraft paper that came in a box as packing material from Amazon. The leaves on the tree are just some green t-shirts I grabbed from my husband’s closet! The clouds are long pieces of cotton.

Mason was born a month early, after I had already spent a month in the hospital leading up to his birth. Even though he had all of these things working against him, he has been a beautiful, happy, healthy baby and he is my little super hero – thus the inspiration for month 1!

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Month 2 had a hot air balloon theme! We used a basket we had lying around for the bucket  and some old red and blue construction paper for the balloon. I reused the blue for the background and the cotton clouds from month 1.

Pro Tip: Lay out the whole scene before you put down your crying infant!

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Month 3 started getting into the holiday season, which made themes a lot easier to come up with! For October we did a Fall/Scarecrow theme. I used the blue background and green grass. I used construction paper to draw pumpkins and then cut them out. I also used construction paper to make the stand the scarecrow is on. The crows are some left over Halloween decorations from a Martha Stewart kit I had a few years ago. The “straw” is actually just some raffia I usually use to add decorations to wrapped gift boxes.

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Month 4 was November so obviously we had to go with a little turkey theme ♥ Again, I used the blue background. I used some more kraft packing paper to make the tree. I found a bag of fake leaves at the dollar store and used some of the more colorful leaves from my yard. The turkey feathers are just construction paper – so are the turkey legs!

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Month 5 was just in time for Christmas! I used the blue background for the sky and the brown for a house roof. I used construction paper to make a chimney and my trust cotton rolls for chimney smoke. More construction paper for the snow flakes and Christmas trees. I actually did order the Santa costume on Amazon, because I do not have any sewing talent at all. This would probably be an easy project for somebody with more talent than me!

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Daddy gets the best smiles 🙂

January was a little more difficult. There really wasn’t a holiday theme that I could think of to tackle. Instead, I thought a space theme would be cute. I used the black background for deep space and construction paper to make the stars and planets. The astronaut costume was another outfit I ordered off Amazon.

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February had to be a Valentine’s day theme! I used paper plates to make the wings and sticks and construction paper for cupid’s arrows. The blue background was probably my most versatile color – I used it All.The.Time.

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March’s theme for 8 months was blessed with a little luck of the Irish. I used the blue and green felt for the sky and grass. I cut out the pot of gold from some construction paper. I actually got super stumped on how to make this rainbow work, and in the end just cut up a bunch of little pieces of paper so I could move them in an arch. It was pretty tedious and a serious distraction for tiny fingers. The gold is some gold chocolate coins that may or may not have been eating immediately after. He is wearing some PJs from Target!

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Month 9 we wanted to do a little pirate theme. I used some kraft packing paper for the sand/beach and a dark blue towel as the waves so that it was set off enough from the blue sky. I cut out the trees, boat and chest from construction paper. The pirate hat we already had!

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May in Florida is HOT. So for Month 10 we decided to head straight to the beach. This was one of the easiest shoots but I think turned out as one of the best. I used the blue background for the water and a baby inner tube. That’s it. (I did put a blanket under his head to prop it up). Pro Tip: We did this one immediately after waking him up for a nap. It was the easiest way for him to be a little more still and for him to be really happy!

 

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In month 11 we went fishin’! I used the blue background for the sky and blue towel for the water. Two pieces of kraft packing paper for the pier and some construction paper fishies. Stick and string fishing pole and we were ready to go!

 

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Month 12 took a little more planning. We wanted to do a Crossfit theme for this and I wanted to make him a bar and some weights. I used a dowel rod that I painted grey and some round pieces of Styrofoam that I painted black. I made the kettle bell from construction paper.

I LOVED doing these photo shoots every month! I hated that I had to stop when he turned a year, but I thought it would a little silly to keep doing them until he is 20. I am so glad that I have something so fun to remember his first year and to see how much he changed every month!

Let me know what you guys think!

 

**Huge shout out to my hubby and my friend Sarah – never could have done these without you guys! And thanks to Mason for being such a good sport 😉 **

 

 

London is always a good idea

969792_529826093739937_947906313_nLondon. If you have ever been there, you know what I’m talking about. London has my heart and it calls me back every day.

We spent several days exploring London and I don’t think I could ever get enough of that beautiful city.

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Some must visit places for the history buff are the British Museum and the National Gallery. The National Gallery houses one of the greatest collection of paintings in the world. I can nerd out on some art, so this was a great experience. Vermeer, Titian, Cézanne, Monet, van Gogh. You name it, they have it.

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National Gallery

The British Museum was even more impressive than the National Gallery. There is an insane amount of artifacts preserved here. Almost every ancient civilization is represented. It is pretty awe-inspiring to see ancient artifacts first hand. Did I mention that it’s free? Because it is!

We also took a tour of the Tower of London (this was not free). The old fortress part of the Tower is really cool. You can walk through all of the old cells where they kept various people throughout London’s history. Except for the house where they kept Anne Boleyn – that “house” us guarded still. Super weird. Then there are new buildings inside of the tower, including the building where they keep the crown jewels. It was pretty surreal to see such a mixture of old and new inside of the ancient fortress.

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Guards keeping watch outside of apartments where Anne Boleyn was held)

From the Tower of London, you have a great view of Tower Bridge. I kept mistakenly calling it the London Bridge. Oops!

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Harrods, Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace are also must-sees!

But my most favorite part of London was the Underground. I don’t know why, but riding the tube was so much fun for me. Navigating the lines and feeling the rush of wind as the train pulled into the station made me feel like I was part of the city.

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I can’t wait to get my feet back on British soil! What was your favorite part of London?

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies”

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I hate New Year’s Resolutions. They create a lot of pressure and expectation, and honestly I never live up to it. I struggle to stick with diets and work out routines.  But last year, I made a resolution I thought I would for sure be able to stick with. I challenged myself to read 52 new books for the year (one a week). I have always loved to read, but I thought with a full time job, a husband and a toddler, this would be a struggle for me. To my surprise, I hit 52 books before the end of June. So I challenged myself further – read 100 books before the end of the year. By December 31st, I had read 134 new books.

One of the hardest parts of this challenge is to read a NEW book. One I have never read before ( I could read the Harry Potter series over and over again).

This year, I want to surpass that incredible achievement. The goal for 2017 is 150 books! We are a month into the year and I have already read 12 books. I have been using Kindle Unlimited (since books can get expensive!) and have loved it so far. What books are you reading? What is your favorite book?

 

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