The Best Family Hiking Trails in Georgia

family hiking trails georgia

If you’re looking for family hiking trails, look no further than Georgia With the rugged Appalachians, the crisp air, the shady creekside and so much more, Georgia has a lot to offer for hiking enthusiasts. So whether you’re here already or planning a trip here anytime soon, here’s some help. Discover the 6 best hikes you can take in Georgia.

Davidson-Arabia Nature Preserve Mountain View Trail

Starting off with an easy trail, this one may not be very well known, but is actually a beautiful hike you must consider taking when you’re here. The path takes you through a stretch of granite, a pristine lake, and a lush green forest, taking you right to the junction of the mountain top trail, which is just 0.2 miles up that takes you right to the summit!

Pine Mountain Trail

Consider taking the family hiking at FDR State Park. The Pine Mountain Trail is Georgia’s longest hiking trail and offers dazzling views of Allatoona Lake when you reach the summit. The hike through the serene forest can be a blissful experience, and along your way, you’ll also cross bridges, misty waterfalls, jaw-dropping valleys and a canopy of lush green trees across the forests. FDR State Park is home to over 20 family-friendly hiking trails. 

Sweetwater Creek State Park Trail 

Sweetwater Creek State Park offers plenty of options for family hiking trails in Georgia. Located just 15 miles from Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek State Park has 9 hikes for hiking enthusiasts to choose from. The Sweetwater Creek Red Trail is the best choice when it comes to family hiking trails. Georgia is also home to the New Manchester Mill Ruins. Here you can take in some of the most gorgeous views of the creek filled with white waters. 

Georgia’s Blood Mountain Trail

When you’re in Georgia, don’t miss out on your chance to trek to the Blood Mountain trail, which is in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Blood Mountain, Georgia’s tallest peak on the Appalachian trail provides sweeping views and countless options for a variety of fitness levels. Blood Mountain is an intense hike, but definitely do-able for families At the top of the mountain, be sure to stop for an obligatory selfie at Picnic Rock. 

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Should Be Eating Seasonally Throughout The Year – Winter

Eating seasonally is a popular buzzword as of late because so many of us are seeking the freshest, safest and most delicious fruits and vegetables.

If you’ve ever wondered what fruits are in season in winter or wished for a winter seasonal food guide or list to ensure you’re getting the best produce, this seasonal eating series is just for you. Be sure to check out the list of winter vegetables and corresponding recipes at the end of this post. There are even a few winter fruits on the list so don’t miss out.

Eating Seasonally has Many Benefits

There’s nothing worse than purchasing store-bought strawberries in a grocery store on the East Coast that has traveled almost three-thousand miles from California only to bite into a flavorless, sad excuse for a berry. Out of season fruits are often picked unripe and either altered in some way before they arrive on shelves or allowed to ‘ripen’ off the vine.

 

Fresh Summer strawberries are a treat that should be enjoyed when it is actually Summer. One of our favorite recipes, Vegan Strawberry Chocolate Muffins uses fresh local strawberries, in fact. Choosing to eat seasonally benefits us of course, but it also benefits our local farmers.

I just finished reading Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, to my homeschooled third grader. I did read the book years ago of course.  Though, as a 10-year-old, I was just following the life of Almanzo Wilder as I read. As an adult with an interest in home gardening and living off-the-grid though, it was as though I was reading it for the first time. I was struck by how resourceful families had to be. Of course, it shouldn’t surprise me that all parts of the animals were used during butchering season or how vegetables were grown throughout the year and used at different times and in various ways later on. I knew these things of course, but reading about it again as an adult really 

Eating Seasonally Makes Economical Sense

We’ve come a long way from life at the Wilder Homestead in Burke New York. Industrialized agriculture is a necessary evil today and as such, while we have a vast array of food available at our fingertips at any point, the quality of said food does suffer. The Wilder family had to grow their own crops and keep their own animals. They had to be resourceful and use every part of the animal and food. My third grader learned how convenient life is for him now and was able to compare and contrast his life as against that of Almanzo’s. 

While it is nice to have the option of having a delicious smoothie bowl in the dead of winter, there is something to be said for seasonal eating. Making an effort to eat seasonally as often as possible is beneficial for many reasons; here are five reasons you should eat seasonally as much as possible. I don’t know that there are any disadvantages of eating seasonal foods, but I do think making sure you use up your produce before it goes bad, can sometimes be a challenge.

Seasonal Foods are More Nutrient Dense 

Higher nutrients Seasonal produce contain the highest amount of nutrients because they were harvested recently and are fresh. The fresher the produce the higher the nutrient value.

Food Deserts Limit Access to Healthful Seasonal Foods 

In my early twenties, I lived in the Bayview/Hunters Point area of San Francisco. While I grew up in the suburbs of Boston, once I moved away from home I pretty much couch-surfed my way through my early twenties. Granted, I did have a tiny studio apartment of my own for some time but I was soon ready to spread my wings and travel. I found myself at 19 years old, living with my dad who owned a home off of Third Street in San Francisco. The neighborhood at the time was a food desert. To me, as a clueless young adult, I learned that residents in the neighborhood didn’t have easy access to quality grocery stores. The one store that was in the neighborhood was overpriced and often offered sub-par products. 

Food deserts are a significant problem in the United States. By definition, a food desert is that has limited access to nutritious food. Essentially, what is happening is that lower-income areas of the country are being left behind in many ways. One such way is through access to affordable, healthy food options. Many larger grocery stores don’t want to move into lower-income areas leaving residents of said areas with subpar options. 

Urban Farms Can Improve Food Security 

Over the last several years, across the country, local farmers are stepping up. Urban farms are growing in numbers across the United States. Here in Charleston, Fresh Future Farm offers access to affordable healthy food. Food security simply means residents have access to a decent amount of affordable, nutrient-dense food. It’s not enough for fast-food chains to spring up all over. Nutritious food should be easily accessible for everyone, regardless of where they live. 

Eating Seasonally Ensures Better Flavor 

Better flavor — Seasonal produce will be more enjoyable to consume because of the flavor. Freshness also contributes to the flavors. Keeping the produce fresh while being shipped across the country is nearly impossible which is why the flavor of the produce will diminish.

Seasonal Foods are Cheaper 

When we eat fruits that are in season, we can save money. Because seasonal foods are in abundance, prices will be lower. By purchasing local foods direct from local farmers and farmer’s markets, we cut out the cost of transporting produce. Because the seasonal foods have a shorter distance to travel before they’re sold, consumers reap the benefits of shorter transportation times. So essentially, buying fruit that is in season in June during the Spring months is a far more economical choice than buying the same fruit that is not in season in winter. The price goes up in winter because there’s less of it to be had.  

Buying Foods in Season Helps Local Farmers 

Giving back by supporting farmers in your community and eating seasonally can boost your local economy. I’ve become quite enamored with a local company in the Charleston area called Vertical Roots. According to their website: 

Vertical Roots is dedicated to bringing farm-fresh, hyper-local, and pesticide-free produce right into the communities we serve. In the process, we aim to build a sustainable future for agriculture and sustainable jobs for farmers

Aside from doing great things by providing quality seasonal foods to the Charleston area, Vertical Roots is also creating jobs. It’s truly a win-win situation for all.  

One of my favorite things in the world is a good farm share. Community-supported agriculture (CSA) connects farmers with community members. As a customer of a CSA, you subscribe either weekly or seasonally (depending on your local farmer) and receive regular allotments of that week’s crop. It’s a great way to eat seasonally, support your local farmer and try new foods and experimenting with recipes.  

Find a CSA or Farm Share Near You

Did you know that the USDA provides a list of CSAs and farms throughout the country that offer consumers the delivery of locally-grown products? You can access a list of CSAs and farm shares in the US here. While this is not an exhaustive list, it’s a great start. There are countless ways to find local produce for you to eat seasonally. When you choose to eat seasonally, you can get creative and try something you may have never encountered before.

Last Summer when one of our local shares, the Twenty Bag, included shishito peppers in the weekly share, I was able to break out of a cooking rut and try something different. I discovered the amazingness that is a blistered shishito pepper! That’s not something I ever would have tried of, nor thought of making before. Thanks to my weekly farm share though, I found a new favorite, healthful snack. 

Winter Seasonal Foods Checklist 

We’ll periodically be updating this list as recipes are added. If you’ve ever wondered what food is in season in November vs what food might be in season in October, this list will be for you. Depending on where you live, some of these winter seasonal foods may or may not be in season. I like to rely on my local farmers, year-round farmers’ markets and CSAs to ensure I’m getting the freshest produce available that allows me to eat seasonally when I can. I love that I have the option of purchasing a variety of fruits and vegetables year-round but know that produce will look and taste its best when it comes from farmers in my own community. Eating seasonally does not have to be difficult, these recipes can help:

Acorn Squash 

Avocado

Bananas

Beets

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Buttercup Squash

Butternut Squash

Cabbage

Carrots

Carnival Squash

Celery

Celeriac/celery root

Collard Greens

Delicata Squash

Fennel

Grapefruit

Kale

Leeks

Onions

Oranges

Parsnips

Pears

Potatoes

Pumpkins

Rutabagas

Sweet Potatoes

Spaghetti Squash

Turnips

Yams

 

 

How to Make a Custom Christmas Mug With Your Cricut Machine

Looking for a last-minute Christmas gift for the coffee-lover in your life? This custom Christmas mug is easy to make with your Cricut machine. If you’re looking for an easy get-started craft for your new Cricut machine, this coffee mug project is the perfect option! You could totally even pair this with a batch of this easy Christmas Gingerbread Cake Bites recipe. It would make a fantastic hostess gift. Here’s a breakdown of each machine  if you’re still on the fence about which Cricut machine you should buy. Otherwise, enjoy this easy-to-follow Cricut coffee mug tutorial!

 

Materials 

Cricut Explore Air 2 machine

White Coffee Mug (Used Walmart Mainstays OPP White Mug)

12” x 12” Cricut Cutting Mat

Black permanent vinyl

Transfer paper

Rubbing Alcohol

Scissors

Weeding tool  

Scraping tool  

Computer/Tablet with Cricut Design Space Account (free)

Instructions:

Sign in to Cricut Design Space and start a new project. Upload file and select “Simple” as the image type and click “continue”.

Custom Mug for Last Minute Christmas Gift-Giving 

Select “Save as a Cut Image” and hit save. Now, the image is ready to select and use.

What’s great about this last-minute custom mug is that you can use any design on your Cricut machine with similar results. Once you have the basics down, the possibilities are endless.

 

It will be larger than you need, so you will need to resize it.

On the box that surrounds the text, you will see arrows at the bottom left.

Click and drag to resize it smaller. I sized it to fit between the top 1 and 3 on the grid (2.953” x 1.692”) so it would fit the mug I used.

 

Place the vinyl you are using on to the mat and press to assure it is on well.

Load into the Cricut machine and start your custom mug making. Cut out a rectangle around the text, and save the remaining vinyl.

 

Gently pull off the vinyl surrounding the text and ensure that the text stays, pressing it or pushing it down with weeding tool/tweezers as needed, also taking out anything from the text that will not be used, like the middle of the “O”s, and discard.

Cut a piece of transfer tape a little bigger than the text. Pull off the backing and place it on top of the text.

Using a scraping tool, or even a credit card, press down and pull back and forth, applying pressure as you go.

Start gently peeling back the transfer paper ensuring that all the letters are adhering to it. (If they aren’t, gently put it back and go over it again.)

Finishing Your Custom Christmas Mug Gift 

Clean your mug with rubbing alcohol and dry with something that is lint-free. Place the transfer paper where you would like it to be on the mug and apply it. (It’s easier to start from one side and slightly bend the transfer tape and press as you go.)

Use the scraping tool/credit card and use the same technique as before, applying pressure as you rub over it back and forth, ensuring you do it well so it sticks. Gently pull the transfer tape off, ensuring that all the letters have stuck. (You can go over it again if needed.)

 

Tips/Tricks/Notes:

*You can adjust to fit the type of mug you are using, if different. You can eyeball it by placing your mug over the mat and judging how much larger/smaller you would like the text, then adjust it on the grid in Design Space.

 

Compare Cricut Machines Which One Machine Should You Buy?

Compare Cricut Machines to Find the Best One for Your Needs

 

If you’re an artsy person then you’ve probably heard about Cricut machines. A Cricut machine can help you create amazing crafts like customized t-shirts, custom Christmas mug gifts and so much more!

The problem with the Cricut machine is that there are many different models of Cricut out there. What’s a person to do when they have no idea what the best Cricut machine to buy is? Well, I can relate to that feeling! I decided to compile my own list Cricut machines with their features and the best reasons to purchase each model. This guide is meant to help you buy the Cricut Machine that matches your needs best.

this post contains affiliate links

 

Shop The Best Machine Prices of the Year

What is the difference between Cricut machines?

Below you’ll find a detailed list of each Cricut machine to help you determine which option is going to work best for your crafty desires this year.

Cricut Maker Machine

The Cricut Maker Machine allows you to easily create anything that comes to mind. You can make iron-on shirts and other crafty options as well as vinyl decals and leather crafts. This Cricut machine includes a docking slot to easily place your phone or tablet. You can upload personalized designs to the Cricut Maker Machine to create more customized crafts.

If you’re into sewing projects, then this is the Cricut machine for you as it has a rotary blade that will allow you to cut through material, including fabric with ease and more accurately. The downside to the Cricut Maker Machine is that the cutting area is relatively small and the knife blade is sold separately.

Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine

The Cricut Explore Air 2 machine is pretty awesome for the beginner user as well. Some of the amazing features that caught my eye with this Cricut machine include its smart cutting dial that allows you to cut at the right depth and pressure for the material used.

This Cricut machine has embedded Bluetooth for wireless cutting and provides you with a machine that gives you the power to make vinyl stickers, greeting cards and so much more! The only real downside I could find about the Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine is that it’s slightly louder than other Cricut machines available for sale.

Cricut Explore Air 2 starts at only $199! Save up to $50. Valid through 12/31.

Cricut EasyPress Machine

If you want a professional level experience with a new Cricut machine then you may want to invest in this beauty. The Cricut EasyPress Machine is best for its value as it allows you to have a portable, lightweight cutting machine.

You’d want this Cricut machine if you do a lot of layering crafts or iron-on projects that have an extra layer. The Cricut EasyPress Machine allows you have a portable and compact way to work on your Cricut projects, the downside is that you may not get an even amount of pressure or heat with the Cricut EasyPress Machine.

Cricut EasyPress Mini Machine

The Cricut EasyPress Mini Machine is the best-budget Cricut machine option out there. If you want an easy to store heat press then this is your go-to option for all of your crafting desires. This easy-to-use machine is perfect for beginners and advanced Cricut users who appreciate a user-friendly, reasonably priced, infusible ink option Cricut machine. While you can’t use the Cricut EasyPress Mini Machine to complete large projects, it will do for the smaller craft enthusiasts.

Cricut EasyPress 2 Machine

Are you looking for a way to make shirts with a Cricut Machine? If so then the Cricut EasyPress 2 Machine will fit the bill! This machine features an advanced heat plate design with a ceramic-coated surface to ensure your shirt making time is efficient and easy.

This Cricut machine is often used by people who like to make larger blankets, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and so forth. You’ll enjoy the precise temperature control and user-friendly design. This is a little more expensive, but well worth it if you plan to make and sell your creations.  

Cricut Explore One Machine

The Cricut Explore One Machine allows you to easily upload and cut your favorite designs. You can design everything with a free cloud-based service that works with PC, iPhone, and Mac. This Cricut Machin works with different materials but doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity or a dual cartridge.

I recommend the Cricut Explore One Machine for most of your DIY vinyl projects as it’s the best option for cutting vinyl accurately and efficiently.

Cricut Cuttlebug Machine

The Cricut Cuttlebug Machine is the best embossing machine out there. If you’re looking for an embossing or die-cut option then you’ll really want to invest in the Cricut Cuttlebug Machine. This machine features an embossing folder and can cut through materials such as thin leather and foil with ease.

This Cricut machine comes with many accessories, as well as a foldable design making it easier to store away when not in use. This Cricut machine does have its downsides, as it doesn’t make complex cuts. 

Cricut Mini Cutting Machine

This versatile machine is perfect for anyone who wants a portable Cricut machine that makes cuts easier. The Cricut Mini Cutting Machine is the best portable option for your smaller projects.

The new DIY’er or craft enthusiast that only wants to make smaller craft items and cuts will enjoy the Cricut Mini Cutting Machine best and it’s pretty reasonable in price.

Cricut Explore Electronic Machine

Are you looking to make vinyl decals? If yes, then the Cricut Explore Electronic Machine has been said to be the perfect machine for vinyl decals. With features such as no cartridge required, although it is cartridge compatible, and $100 worth of images and products include with the free software, the Cricut Explore Electronic Machine gives you more bang for your buck.

The app for this machine won’t be compatible with Android, so it could be a downside for all you Android users and it’s slower than other Cricut cutting machines. While you can’t get the job done quickly with the Cricut Explore Electronic machine, the fact that you get some free SVGs and can use your own personalized designs makes it a great machine to make vinyl decals for your friends, family, or customers.

Now that you’ve read all about the difference Cricut Machines for 2019, I hope that you have a better understanding of which Cricut machine will get the job done.

No matter what type of crafter you are or desire to be, the truth is Cricut Machines make it possible for anyone to learn how to make exceptional craft items for their home, customers, family, and friends. I hope that my extensive list of features, pros and cons and other details about each Cricut Machine will help you get on board to be a new owner of a Cricut Machine today.

 

Nintendo Switch Game System and Controllers Guide For Parents

The Nintendo Switch gaming system and various Controllers are a hot topic lately. This guide will give you an overview of the Nintendo Switch game system and controller options to help you make a sound buying decision.

They say that some of the best things in life come in two. The Nintendo Switch is no different. The gaming system is essentially two gaming systems in one. The Switch can be used as a powerful handheld gaming tablet or you can dock the system to enjoy the games on the TV like a regular console.  

Overview of the Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is made up of three components; the tablet, the display and dock, and the Joy-Cons.  Here is an overview of each of the parts.

The Tablet

  • looks like a regular plastic tablet
  • measures 4.0 x 6.8 x 0.5 inches
  • weighs about 10.6 ounces
  • feels solid both on its own and with attachable Joy-Cons
  • includes 3.5mm headphone jack and game card slot
  • uses USB-C port for charging and connecting to the Switch Dock
  • speakers on are the back along with a kickstand
  • has a micro SD slot to expand storage up to 2TB and save progress

Display and Dock

  • 6-inch screen
  • 720p capacitive touch screen (1,280×720)
  • the screen is bright, sharp, has excellent color
  • can charge the Switch by plugging the included USC-C wall adapter
  • can also drop the Switch into the dock to charge or play it
  • Switch Dock is a block-shaped plastic piece (measures 4.0 x 6.8 x 1.9 inches)
    • Charges system and provides HDMI output to connect to TV
    • Provides 3 USB 3.0 ports for storage and accessories

Joy-Cons

  • Included with the Switch and Switch Dock
  • each Joy-Con measures 4.0 x 1.4 x 0.5 inches
  • each Joy-Con represents half the controls found on a standard controller which are an analog stick, four face buttons, pairing buttons, and two shoulder buttons
  • a mechanical release is located on the attachment rail and only detaches from Switch tablet  by pushing the release button
  • right Joy-Con has a plus button for accessing menus near the top and pausing games and has a home button below the analog stick
  • left Joy-Con has a minus button for accessing menus near the top and a capture button to take screenshots which are located below the face buttons
  • turn the Joy-Cons sideways with the attachment rail facing away from you to use it as a simple controller

Best games for your Nintendo Switch

There are plenty of games you can use on the Nintendo Switch. Here are two of the most popular that are family-friendly and fun to play.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Zelda: Breath of Wild has some great features. One of the best is that the game has an element of surprise. It has a huge open world filled with so much to do, that even if you were to play and complete the main story, you’d find yourself probably missing some of the details of the map. The joy that comes from the discovery and satisfaction by finding your own way makes this game very inviting as well. Here are a few pointers to get you started in the right direction

  • opens with hero Link awakening in dark cavern
  • the mysterious voice guides him to a tablet that helps to navigate the Hyrule-the fantasy realm that is the heart of the Zelda adventure.
  • people still exist in small towns and stables—it’s a dangerous place and your job is to set things straight
  • instead of giving explicit direction as to what to do, it shows you what needs to happen and let you do the work to accomplishing the goals
  • Link now has the ability to climb virtually any surface in the game
  • the best way to figure out what to do is to be social, talk to lots of people

Super Mario Maker 2

Super Mario Maker 2 is a game about making levels and then sharing them with the world. Players play, create and share by side-scrolling different Super Mario courses.  Here are a few tips that will help you get started

  • you’ll want a decent stylus since the only way to access building elements is by touch when your Joy-Cons are attached
  • there are three ways to enjoy Super Marion Maker 2
    • you build a creative one of a kind course from scratch and let your imagination guide you
    • recreate a course from a Mario game then change it to your specifications
    • you can use a course you played online as a template and then make it your own with each course, you can add your own items