Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Reynolds Handi Vac

This year I am trying to save money by freezing my fresh fruits & vegetables that I get from my in-laws. I don't have a garden but they do. I don't know how to 'can' and buying all the equipment necessary to do so would negate the whole saving money point. I've been looking at vacuum sealers as an alternative, but they are also very expensive. I found some reviews on the Reynolds Handi-Vac; some were favorable others not so much. What I'd like to find out is if any of you have used the Reynolds product and if you recommend it.

I appreciate your help!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Gatlinburg 2008

Rocky Top you'll always be Home Sweet Home to me...

Have you ever wondered why the song Rocky Top has that name? The Rocky Mountains are in the west, and the song is written about the Smoky Mountains, right? hmmmm, my family, for generations and generations is from East Tennessee, and I've always wondered that....

Well, needless to say I've spent many a' weekends in Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg, but I've never felt the desire to spend a vacation there until this year. With minimal cash I begin to look for an economical solution for a very much needed vacation, and I found it right out my back door! Thankfully we had a great time!

Charlie & I left for Gatlinburg on Wednesday about 5pm. It usually only takes about an hour to get there from our house, but it didn't even seem like it took that long. That was the best hour Charlie & I have spent together in a long time. It was a great time to reconnect. Once we checked into our hotel room, which was very nice for the price. We decided to walk the town! Charlie loves to walk, me not so much! We walked and walked and walked and walked....you get my point. It was a lot of fun, but I was extremely tired by the time we got back to our hotel room. Thursday we were still by ourselves, and we spent the day looking over the town. Thursday night we ate at The Peddler. I remember as a child my parents going there for special occasions, but I'd never been. My parents always said it was an expensive restaurant and they couldn't afford to take the entire troupe of children! It was very expensive, but worth it. Charlie thoroughly enjoyed his meal. I enjoyed my meal too much. I ate so much that I was sick the entire night. We walked back to our hotel down River Rd. The night before Charlie had been trying to show me all the trout that was in the river, but I just couldn't see them. Well, they stocked the river on Thursday morning, and Thursday night you could see thousands of little trout. We spent about an hour just watching the river and the fish. I remember as a child going to Gatlinburg and seeing all the "old" people standing looking over the river. I remember thinking there are so many fun things to do why are you wasting your time just looking at the river?!?!? Well, I must be "old" now! I had fun just looking at the river and watching the schools of fish. I think I forgot to mention that our hotel terrace was about 100ft from the river. It was very peaceful, and beautiful. Thursday night or should I say Friday morning, anyway at Midnight between Thursday the 3rd and Friday the 4th, Gatlinburg has a parade. It was a very special tribute to all the armed forces. The parade lasted about an hour. It made you remember why we celebrate the 4th and those that are fighting for our freedom.

Well, Friday the peace was over! We drove to Knoxville to pick up the kids. Just kidding. I should actually say the fun began! Our kids are just like us. They are full of life, and exciting. They love adventure, and trying new things. ....and yes, they love to eat! We had a plan for the restaurants we had to eat at before the weekend was over. On Friday night we ate at Bubba Gumps, on Saturday night we ate at the Dixie Stampede, and on Sunday we ate at Johnny Carino's then on the way home on Monday we ate at Tony Gore's Barbecue! I'm surprised that after our vacation we didn't all gain 50lbs, but all that walking must have paid off because none of us gained a pound! Friday night after going to Bubba Gumps we sat right outside our room and watched the fireworks. We spent Saturday at the pool, then Sunday we walked, and walked and walked some more!!! Beth just had to go in all the little stores, and shops. Then we spent a couple of hours in an arcade playing pool, and ice hockey together. As we walked back towards the hotel we stopped several times to listen to the 'Tunes and Tales'. In my pictures you'll see the different groups and their interesting instruments. It was entertaining, and it took you back to a time when families sat on their front porches and spent time together 'singing and pickin' At least that is what my family did. There was even a lady that sat by the road quilting, and teaching the kids how to quilt as they walked by. Very laid back trip, except for all that walking....

By the time Monday morning rolled around we were all so tired that we couldn't wait to get home. Good thing home was only about an hour away!

Sorry it took me so long to post, I hope you all enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


This evening Charlie & I are leaving on a much needed vacation! I am not taking my laptop so I'll be AWOL until Monday.

We are going to Gatlinburg TN for 6 days & 5 nights! I am so excited! We didn't think we were going to be able to afford a vacation this year, but I was able to find a wonderful deal at a nice little motel right on the river. My kids are in Florida with my sister on a little mini-vacation and they won't be back until late Thursday night, so Charlie and I get a couple of days entirely to ourselves!

I'll probably have lots of pictures when I return!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

2008 Summer Youth Retreat

whheeeewwww.... I am too old for this!!!

In 1998 Charlie and I led our first Summer Youth Retreat. We started a tradition of summer youth trips to Awanita Valley SC. If you've never heard of this camp click here. Needless to say going to Awanita has made our standards pretty high. Awanita has wonderful facilities, recreation, and an awesome staff. However, we have found a camp that runs a pretty close 2nd!

Lake Francis in Crossville TN is a pretty new camp to East Tennessee. The camp caters to gymnasts and dances but they are also open to youth groups! The facility isn't as large as Awanita but for a weekend retreat it was perfect!

We were invited to join our sister church in Knoxville on this weekend retreat back in April. At first our middle/high school group wasn't interested; they really wanted Charlie to plan the trip to Awanita. After they realized that Charlie and I just couldn't do it (financially we just weren't able) a few of them decided they wanted to go on this shorter weekend trip. This past Friday we met at the Knoxville church and pulled out about 5:30. We had a great time! About 30 kids went on the trip, and about that many adults too!

It was quite interesting going on a youth trip that we didn't plan and coordinate. Charlie did speak on Sunday morning; however we didn't have the job of coordinating all the activities, food, dealing with problems, etc that we usually have. It should have been a very relaxing weekend, but it was actually very tiring. Which is why I say I'm too old for this! I walked more this weekend than I probably have in 6 months total! I'm sure I needed the exercise, but whew I am exhausted!

I have included a slide show below of all the pics that I took. You can tell that in some of the pictures it appears that I'm just looking up in the trees, well I am! Lake Francis' has an awesome high ropes course. The course is about 30-40 feet up! I was scared just watching the kids, but they have no fear. You can tell more about the course on the retreats website. They also have a huge man made lake. Charlie took me completely around the lake on a canoe. I didn't even have to row! I just looked out at the water and took in all of God's wonderful beauty! I don't have any pictures of this because I didn't take my camera on the canoe. I was scared I'd drop my camera in the water.

Now I've got to start planning the elementary & preschool trips...