Cathedral Caverns State Park

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This trip was not planned as an escape, but that is what it became. I will forever remember this trip as a breath of fresh air after nearly drowning. I had just dropped out of school. I wasn’t sure if it was for the semester or for good yet. I just knew that I needed out and I didn’t really want to talk to anyone about it yet.

Cathedral Caverns is one of those places that you never know about unless you did some research, live in the area, or know someone that went there. Cody and I were looking for a place to take a small camping trip in early November 2019. We wanted to go somewhere nearby with interesting scenery and plenty of things to do. We were not expecting to go tent camping during a hurricane or to find a beautiful cave in the middle of the Appalachian mountains.

We planned on staying for 2 nights, but it somehow ended up being a week. We never really reached a point where we wanted to come home, but just got to a point where it was necessary because we had jobs. We had my car loaded down with all of our camping gear and even decided to bring both of our dogs along with us. We knew we would be there late, but that didn’t bother us. Later that night we found ourselves coasting through the winding roads of northern Alabama in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. It was pouring outside and even with our headlights on, we could barely see the roads.

Once we finally found the state park, we drove around aimlessly looking for a spot to set up camp. The rain did not seem to be letting out and with no lights anywhere, it was hard to see what spots were open for camping.

We finally wondered up on a decent looking piece of land and waited for the rain to ease up…it didn’t. After waiting in the car for an hour, we decided to toughen up and pitch a tent in the rain. Once all the necessities were loaded into the tent ( both dogs, the sleeping bag, and our blankets) , we found out that the zipper was broken. That’s right! Our tent was wide open allowing all of the rain to pour into our tent. Once we realized that it wasn’t going to fix, we huddled up in our sleeping bag and under our blankets to stay dry and warm.

When I woke up the next morning, I extended my foot into a puddle of ice cold water. I immediately shot up to see our entire tent under 2 inches of water. Everything was wet: our towels, blankets, and clothes. We got dressed back in our freezing, soaked clothes and started packing everything up.

After everything was packed up and we had changed into dry clothes, we headed off to a lauder-o-mat to use the dryers. It took hours and half of our money was eaten by dryers that didn’t work. It was an experience that I never want to re-live. We decided to take a trip to Wal-Mart afterwards to buy a new tent. The tent we found was MUCH nicer than I ever expected. It is a 6 person tent that stands at about 5 feet. It is complete with LED lights and an IPAD holster for when we want to watch shows before bed. We went ahead and got a small space heater to keep the tent warm and purchased a campsite with electric, too. We were now glamping and did not care one bit, because we deserved it after the night we had just endured.

The rest of our trip went pretty smoothly. We would drive up to the main office in the morning to sip on a cup of coffee on their porch while using the signal to get in touch with family and friends. We took a couple of small hikes around the park during the day, took naps in the after noon, and collected fire wood in the early evening. Over all, it was just a much needed, relaxed trip.

We didn’t leave the park much, but when we did, we found some diamonds in the ruff. Huntsville isn’t a very large town. There aren’t many great places to go, but we did happen across 2 great restaurants in our time there. We ate at Joe’s Pizza one day, which didn’t look like much, but it had some of the best pizza we have ever tried for a great price. When you go inside, it looks like a run down pizza hut on the inside, but the pizza had a great flavor and had just the perfect amount of cheese on it. We chose this place because it was the closest restaurant to the Cathedral Caverns State Park, but we were not disappointed with it at all. We even left talking about how we would recommend it to anyone in that area.

The other place we ate is somewhere that I would personally travel all he way to Huntsville to visit again. Pints and Pixels is a restaurant, brewery, and vintage arcade. We split a burger for lunch and each got a flight of some of their tasty beers before hitting the games. The arcade has every game you can think of from pac man to mario cart to pin ball and they even have a wreck it ralph game inspired by the movie. It is a great place to grab lunch and spend the day as a family and after dark it turns into an arcade bar for adults only.

The park has some fun things to do there as well. There are a few easy walking/hiking trails you can stroll down during the day, but the main attraction is the Cathedral Caverns. Cave tours are open and can be purchased during the day. The tour lasts about 2 hours and goes through the fun history of the caves while letting you see its beauty.

I haven’t found an excuse to stop by Huntsville, Alabama again, but I always check to see if it’s on our route! If you’re looking for a little escape or just want to make a pit stop during a long trip, I highly recommend stopping by the Cathedral Caverns or Pints and Pixels. All of the locals are extremely friendly and will go out of their way to welcome you and show kindness. (The best example of southern hospitality) Thanks for reading along!

5 Easy and Popular Party Foods

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I know I have been talking a lot about food lately, but it IS the holidays and good food is everywhere ! I just can’t help myself. I won’t be sharing any recipes today but I will be sharing some easy, fun foods that I love enjoying at any holiday party! I always have great ideas for parties and party foods, but when it comes down to it, I just procrastinate a little too long. These are some party foods that I can always turn to if I am running behind and looking for a treat that will be loved.

1.Pepper Jelly Dip.

My first pick is so easy, yet so good. Pepper Jelly Dip is perfect for when you are throwing together a quick party or forgot to make a dish for tonight’s Christmas party. All you need is a block of cream cheese, a jar of pepper jelly, and some crackers to dip in it. Go ahead and bring a serving knife or butter knife because cheap plastic knives and a cracker won’t cut through the cream cheese easily.

2. Bacon Wrapped Smokies

Need I say more? So easy & you can find the recipe online for cooking instructions. These take a little more time to prepare, but they don’t require a lot of ingredients and they are a crowd favorite at every party we serve them at. You just need bacon, a pack of smokey sausages, brown sugar, and tooth picks.

3. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Cody’s mom always makes these around the holidays. They are great if you have a sweet tooth . I have made them for teachers as Christmas gifts and we have served them at parties. You just use chocolate chip cookie dough and a peanut butter cup and place them in a mini muffin pan & POOF!! You have a perfect sweet treat for any holiday event.

4. Deviled Eggs

Okay, so these are kind of hit or miss but my family and I love them. They are a staple at any family gathering. Once the eggs are boiled and peeled, the prepping process is so easy. They are a great finger food to have at any party.

5. Cake Balls

Homemade cakeballs are always a hit. Never fails. You almost can’t mess this one up. They have to be baked and frozen, but they are so simple. The hardest part is the chocolate coating, but even if they look bad they are still usually a hit because they taste so good.

I hope some of these holiday food ideas save you at this year’s holiday parties. We love these items at almost every party and they are usually the things that people gather around and clear out before the party ends. If something caught your eye and you do want me to make a recipe post, leave a comment. Happy holidays !

Easy Green Bean Cassarole

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Time for another pre-Thanksgiving recipe! I can literally shovel this stuff into my mouth at any time of year…Green bean casserole! This is by far my favorite Thanksgiving food of all time.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

. 1 (10.5 OZ.) can of condensed cream of mushroom.

. 1/2 cup of milk

. 1/8 TSP. of ground black pepper

.2 (14.5 OZ.) cans of green beans (I prefer cut green beans, but any type will work)

. 1 1/3 cup of crispy fried onions.

LET’S GET COOKIN!!

1.preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit

2. Mix pepper, milk, and cream of mushroom in a 1 1/2 quart baking dish.

3. Stir in green beans and 2/3 cup of crispy fried onions.

4.Bake for 30 minutes. Stir.

5. Top with remaining onions. ( I never measure this part. I just cover the top on the casserole completely)

6. Bake for 5 minutes or until onions are golden brown.

That’s it! Such an easy recipe and a crowd favorite for any holiday (or enjoy it any time of year!) I hope your family enjoys this dish as my as my husband and I do!

Easy, Budget Friendly Pumpkin Pie Recipe

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November is here, which means that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Thanksgiving holds a place as one of my favorite holidays. The food, the family gathered around the table, remembering to be thankful (something that I need daily)… how can you not love it? In honor of Thanksgiving and all the yummy food we are going to be enjoying, I will be sharing one favorite Thanksgiving recipe of mine each week. The first recipe is a Thanksgiving must have: pumpkin pie.

I am a firm believer that some things aren’t worth the time, trouble, or money to be homemade… sometimes a cheater recipe is just as good. You can also do this recipe without a crust, in a pie pan to make it gluten free.

INGREDIENTS :

.frozen pie crust (or not if you are making it gluten free)

.15 oz. can of pumpkin

.14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

.2 eggs

.1 tbsp of pumpkin pie spice

.1 tsp of sugar

LETS MAKE IT !

1.preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.Mix pumpkin, condensed milk, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, and sugar in a medium sized bowl.

3.Once ingredients have been mixed well, pour the mixture into the frozen pie crust. (or into the empty pie crust if you are trying the recipe gluten free.)

4.Put the pie in the oven and let it bake for 15 minutes.

5.After the pie has baked for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking for 40 minutes.

6.Once the pie has browned slightly, allow it to cool on the counter or a cooling rack before serving. (& don’t forget the cool whip when you are ready to serve!)

Thanks for reading along. I hope that this pie finds it’s way to your table and can be enjoyed by all of your friends and family. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be hard or expensive… just keep that in mind. Happy baking! Make sure to follow the blog to get updates on future posts!

How I threw My Sister a Sweet 16: Games, Food, and Decorations on a Budget.

What does every girl think of when she turns 16 ? Yes , everyone thinks of driving around their 16th birthday, but girls specifically think about their sweet 16 party. It is actually something that most girls used to fantasize about. The car, the party, all of their friends and family, a huge celebration. Nowadays, it is less of a celebration and just turns into another birthday. I decided to change that for my sister. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing why I threw a sweet 16 for my sister, where we bought everything, and what we did during the party.

The idea came to me during a Monday night bible study. We were talking about our 16th birthdays and how we dreamed of a sweet 16 party that never happened or had a sweet 16 party that no one showed up to. We all shared one memory of our 16th birthdays, disappointment. I decided that my sister would not share that same fate. I began to plan that night. Ideas spun through my head and to pinterest I went. I texted her to let her know that I would be throwing a party and not to have plans.

Kaylee’s mom helped me out with the decorations while I was in charge of food and games and our dad was in charge of the cake. The cake was a red velvet cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes. These cake always taste so good and they even hook you up with decorating it with your choice of decorations!

Our decorations turned out so good. Most of the decorations were from the online story: Shein or Amazon. We went with burgundy, gold, and pink as the color scheme instead of the typical pink and gold “princessy” colors because it fit my sister’s personality better. The balloon arch was made so easy with a balloon arch cheat that allows you to just poke the balloons into place and then drape it where ever you want.

The food was from all over. My sister requested Canes chicken fingers for dinner, which is what she got. I may have gone over board with the desserts. I picked up rice crispy treats with sprinkles, brownies, candy, and strawberries( that were supposed to turn into chocolate covered strawberries, but we aren’t going to talk about that) from walmart. The cake balls were from Candace’s Cake Balls. Candace is local and supplies the cake balls at the coffee shop I work for so I knew they were quality and the money was going somewhere local. I am pretty sure they can be shipped if you aren’t in the area, but they really are the best. Upon request, she even does specially designed ones !

Game time!! I love coming up with and leading party games (if you hadn’t already noticed.) I decided to do 3 games for this party. Why three? I wanted to entertain but not overwhelm. The prizes for the game were simple and they loved them: starbucks gift cards. They ended up being cheaper than anything else that I got them and what teenage girl doesn’t like starbucks?

The first game was a baby food taste test. The girls were told the names of all the baby food that I had bought. Then they all put a blindold on and took turns tasting. I had 10 flavors, but only made them taste 3 each. Each girl had 3 guesses for each flavor and for each one they guessed correct they got a point. Two of the girls tied, leaving them to go head-to-head in another round. My sister ended up winning the game. (and eating the baby food out of the jar willingly)

The next game was a blind makeup game. (Since there was an odd number, one of the girls that didn’t want to get her makeup done sat out.) The girls paired up and one girl put on a blind fold. I turned on a new song and they had until the song ended to do the makeup on their partner the best that they could. We did two rounds of the by letting the girls switch places in the second round.

The final game was ‘What’s in your overnight bag’ I left a picture of my template below. But the rules for this game was they each girl bring her overnight bag and go through it to see if they have any of the items. Each item is worth a certain number of points and once it is over, the points are added up to determine the winner. Kaylee came in second, one friend came in first with 25 points more and another came in third with 15 points less.( I made Kaylee pack a fake overnight bag before playing the game.)

We ended the night by watching Clueless and talking and laughing. Overall, I think it went well and now my sister won’t be in her twenties looking back at her sweet 16 with disappointment.

Thanks for reading along with me and I hope this gave you some fun tips for throwing a party for teens. Have a great week!