Friday, September 19, 2014

DIY: Simple (and Cheap!) Soccer Goal

Hello! Today I'd like to share with you an inexpensive and super easy soccer goal that I made for the girls using this tutorial from the Six Sisters Stuff blog.



I had some PVC pipe left over from [K]s fifth birthday party that I never ended up using so while surfing the web trying to find plans for a kiddie car wash (I'm still going to do this some day because how fun does that look?!?) I came across this soccer goal and thought, "That looks quick and fun!" Thankfully I already had the right length of PVC pipes so all I had to do was get the 90 degree elbows and "t"s from our local hardware store, some kind of fabric for the net, and zip ties.



Originally I went with the suggestion from the original blog post to use inexpensive tulle fabric from Walmart (~$1.00 per yard) and after one use it ripped in several places. I ended up going to JoAnn Fabric and  replaced it with this mesh fabric. I think the most common use for it are those garment bags you use for your delicate washing. It was a huge improvement.


The girls really seem to enjoy using it. The other nice thing about the goal is that it's very lightweight making it portable enough to bring to the park if you happen to have a very hilly backyard like we do.
The purple fabric in this photo and the one below is the tulle that ripped immediately.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

K's 6 Year Photos

At the end of August [K] turned six. I have a birthday party wrap up blog in the works for you but in the meantime, here are her latest yearly photos. I'm also including her past photos for a yearly comparison. Since I wasn't blogging when she was one I have to dig out our external hard drive and update this post another night.

Two Years


Three (and a half) Years


Four Years


Five Years


Six Years


Oh my gosh, how did my baby get so big?!? I was SO impressed with her during her photos. She did so well; listening and taking direction, smiling naturally, posing just so... I don't normally buy into their collage photos because (A) they're more expensive, and (B) Usually I prefer the individual photos. However this time, there were so many great ones that I would have ended up with 7 different poses. And that's on top of the fact that she just had her school photos taken.

Here is the first collage followed by the individual photos so it's easier to see them:






Here's the second collage followed by the individual photos:




The girls had a ton of fun eating that cupcake after the photos were done. Me, not so much. First of all, the frosting was starting to melt all over the place under the lights of the photo studio. Secondarily, the dye in that frosting made EVERYTHING blue - tongues, lips, teeth, fingers... It was a hot mess, literally. But, they had fun, nothing got on their clothes or on the studio props and I got some great photos. Yay! Thanks for another year JCPenney Portrait Studio.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tennessee Vacation - Day 4

Wrap it up, I'll take it... That's right, I'm about to wrap up our trip to Tennessee!

If you recall from my last post, I mentioned that the lovely host, Janice, from the B&B where we were staying recommended a hike for us to take. She prepared a delicious picnic lunch for us and off we headed to Big Creek and Mouse Falls. The Ponies, of course, came with us.


The hike to Mouse Falls is two miles and it's a relatively flat and easy hike.


On the way to the falls you hike next to Big Creek where there is a wonderful swimming hole. Or so we were told. Our host mentioned the fact that the water is freezing so we opted not to go in but maybe next time.


The thing I love most about Big Creek is that it's absolutely littered with these enormous boulders the whole way. We had a great time climbing around on them.


Along the walk, on the forest side (as opposed to the creek side), it was filled with beautiful white rhododendron flowers. My sister in law loves these so I was sure to send her a photo text while we walked.



Selfie :)  I've never really been a selfie kind of person but since it was just the two of us and I didn't want all of our pictures to be just nature or just [A] or just me, selfies it was.


When we made it to Mouse Falls we ate lunch while dangling our legs over a huge boulder. While there these tiny white/blue butterflies kept us company and one even landed on my shoulder and stayed with me for a good part of our walk back.


The next morning we were headed home but before we left we spent a bit of time walking around the property at Whisperwood Farm and Chapel. I love our reflection in the door.


Right next to the door is a Shalom sign and when we were leaving, on the sign was this amazingly huge, furry moth. It was beautiful.


The chapel on the property is rustic and gorgeous. And then to learn that Janice and her husband built it themselves makes it that much more meaningful.


Thank you for coming along with me on this journey. I know there were a lot of pictures and too many days in between posts but I really wanted to get this done and in a format where I'll be able to go back and look at it again and cherish the memories we made together.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tennessee Vacation - Day 3; Part 2

Oh my gosh, if I don't wrap up this five day vacation, I don't know what I'll do when it comes to our 10 day beach trip. A birthday has passed, the first day of school has come and gone, and I'm still stuck on a mini getaway from back in June. Ugh. Sorry. I'm long winded and I use lots of pictures. I guess I look at this blog as a journal for myself to remember the big and little things we do over the years. I hope you enjoy it but if not, thank you for indulging me.

Anyway, to continue from the last post, after we left Lookout Mountain we headed across the state to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Our first stop was Clingmans Dome.
I think my favorite thing about the Smokies are the layers of mountains.

At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is Great Smoky Mountains National Park's highest point. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the second highest point east of the Mississippi. Only North Carolina's Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) rises higher.


Clingmans Dome is a popular Park destination. Located along the state-line ridge, it is half in North Carolina and half in Tennessee.


The peak is accessible after driving Clingmans Dome Road from Newfound Gap, and then walking a steep half-mile trail. A paved trail leads to a 54-foot observation tower.


The cool, wet conditions on Clingmans Dome's summit make it a coniferous rainforest. Unfortunately, pests, disease, and environmental degradation threaten the unique and fragile spruce-fir forest.


Dead trunks litter the area, and dying trees struggle to survive another year. Berries thrive in the open areas, and a young forest will replace the dying trees. (http://www.clingmansdome.com/)


I loved this cloud formation. It reminded me of a baby elephant lifting its trunk.


When we left the sun was beginning to set so we stopped at a pull-off where a very nice couple had set up some lawn chairs and were having wine and cheese while watching the sunset. We struck up a conversation with them and funny enough, it turns out we have the same anniversary except we're one year later.



It was a lovely way to end our first day in the Smokies. From here we drove to our Bed and Breakfast in Cosby, TN. If you ever find yourself in the area and looking for a place to stay, please let me suggest the Creekwalk Inn at Whisperwood Farm. Janice runs the place and is just a wonderful woman with great stories, a kind heart, and great hiking recommendations. We took one of her recommendations on an amazing hike I'll show you in my next blog post. Until then, have a fantastic night!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tennessee Vacation - Day 3; Part 1

The first part of our third day was spent on Lookout Mountain. Our first stop was to take a ride on the Incline Railway.

Built by John Crass in 1895, The Incline is a technical marvel. At its apex it reaches an incline of 72.7%, making it the steepest passenger railway in the world. The building at the top in the middle is the upper station. You can just make out the black tracks going up to it.


The Incline Railway is run on a single track except for a short two-track stretch at the midway point allowing operation of two cars at one time. Steel cables are connected to both cars, so that one counterweights the other.


At the upper station you can see the giant wheels used to pull the railcars. There's also an elevator-style braking system to stop the cars, should a cable ever snap. Below, the view of Chattanooga.


Today, The Incline still attracts people from around the world and has carried literally millions of residents and tourists up and down historic Lookout Mountain. (Take My Trip)


From there we continued around the mountain to Rock City in Georgia.

Rock City is a 4100-ft walking trail on the brow of Lookout Mountain. The attraction combines scenic overlooks separated by peaceful walks along winding paths through rock gardens and into narrow passageways created by massive granite outcrops.



In the 1920's a man named Garnet Carter began purchasing land at the top of Lookout Mountain. His wife, Frieda, set out to develop the property into one big rock garden, taking string and marking a trail that wound its way around the giant rock formations, ending up at Lover's Leap.


Garnet realized that Frieda had made an attraction that people would be willing to pay for and made Rock City a public attraction in 1932.


By 1935 visitation had dropped dramatically. Carter wanted to increase advertising by offering to paint local barns near roadways for free, if his painter, Clark Byers, could paint three words on either side of the roof - "See Rock City." Byers painted over 900 barn roofs in nineteen states from 1935 to 1969.


One of my favorite spots in Rock City was Rainbow Hall, seen here from the outside.

This is the inside. Isn't it beautiful? [K] would have been mesmerized. I could have stayed here and taken shot after shot but of course I was holding up the line so unfortunately I had to move on.


At the end of the trail you come to this big gate called Fairyland Caverns. Being a huge fan of fairies, I was particularly excited to see it. My first tip off that it wasn't going to be what I expected should have been the metal depiction of Little Red Riding Hood above the sign.

As another blogger put it (quite aptly, I might add) "Fairyland Caverns is Frieda's masterpiece, where Rock City abandons the real world and ventures into its own wobbly realm of fantasy. You descend through a long series of cave-like galleries. Elves and gnomes leer at you from above, perched on trapezes and simulated rock shelves. The ceilings are covered with coral and fake stalactites, all painstakingly glued into place.

Set into the walls are a series of dioramas of children's fairytales. All of the characters are hand-painted in garish fluorescent colors, lit only by ultraviolet light. Each shines in the darkness with a brilliant, radioactive rainbow glow. It is the greatest black light showplace on earth -- and it's terrifying. Frieda has put distorted old peoples' heads onto healthy children's bodies. Huge goggle eyes. Bloated lips. Exaggerated lines and creases on every face.

Fairyland Caverns climaxes at Mother Goose Village, a dark room the size of a small auditorium. It stretches into the black void -- an alien ultraviolet landscape of dozens of intermingled nursery rhymes, topped by a ten-foot-tall castle. Families shuffle through like zombies, barely illuminated by the glowing tableaus. There's Humpty Dumpty. And Little Miss Muffet. And a dish running away with a spoon. Hushed voices mingle with prerecorded children -- or maybe adults trying to sound like children -- singing nursery rhymes over hidden loudspeakers. Who needs drugs? Life doesn't get any freakier than Mother Goose Village and Fairyland Caverns." (Roadside America)

Honestly, I didn't even take any photos in this area. All I wanted to do was get out of the hot, smelly oven of a room where this was all held. It was a horrible way to end a very beautiful and scenic walk through nature. Thankfully I've found that there's a shortcut way to avoid going in there and because of that alone, I would come back to Rock City.