outdoors

Cooper Creek WMA

 

One of our favorite quick weekend getaways with our kids is the Cooper Creek Wildlife Management Area in north Georgia! The river is easily accessible from the road or campsites, so it’s a fun place whether you are just up for the day or if you are camping! We will often drive up and take a picnic lunch, then just set up for the day next to the river to let the boys play, fish and explore. I also really enjoy cooking breakfast at the campsite and sitting by the fire with a cup of coffee. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that make us the happiest!

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Most recently we went up to camp and although all the sites were full, we were able to find a spot on the side of the road that worked just fine. We spent the day in the river building fairy houses, splashing around and doing a little fishing. The Department of Natural Resources stocks the creek with trout, so the likelihood of catching something is higher here, especially after a stock happens!

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Camping with the boys is one of my favorite activities. While it can sometimes be stressful with tiny ones, pushing through and going anyway has always been so rewarding. (Tips on camping with babes, toddlers and kids coming soon!) We started camping with Elliot around the six month mark and Isaac when he was just a few weeks old! It is worth every back packed, every car ride song, every hour of missed sleep to see them love and explore nature, to hear the things they say around the campfire, and to get some really great snuggles at night. We are already looking forward to all our fall trips, including one to Grayson Highlands in Virginia!

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Gardening for the Soul

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I remember our gardens growing up... the smell of the dirt, the watering of the plants, the pulling of the radishes and beets. I remember my mom giving me a tiny pair of gloves and showing me how to place the plants in the ground. Those times in the garden with her are some of my sweetest memories. I feel at ease in the garden, and there is a sense of simplicity to the tasks that make even the most complicated things seem simpler. But I would argue that there's something about gardening that appeals to most everyone, even if we don't really have a green thumb. 

There's a positive energy that comes with connecting to creation, seeing growth right in front of you, making a tangible difference in your surroundings. Whether we recognize it or not, gardening touches part of our souls. "From dust you have come and to dust you shall return." But the benefits of playing in the dirt aren't just spiritual and emotional. Gardening is good for our bodies too! Here are a few reasons why I believe (and science suggests) that gardening is good for your body + soul:

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+ Stress relief: In a world where we are constantly pulled in a million directions with something always demanding our attention, the sights, smells, and sounds of the garden can promote relaxation and reduce stress. Our brains have a finite capacity for attention directed at cell phones, computers, etc.  and when that capacity gets used up we tend to become irritable, error-prone, distractible, and stressed out. Luckily this fatigue appears to be reversible! We can replenish ourselves by engaging in "involuntary attention," an effortless form of attention that we use when enjoying nature.

+ Improves depression symptoms: similar to the stress relief, time in nature allows our brains to disconnect from all the distractions, stress and screens trying to grab our attention and focus us on something tangible. I also believe it connects us back to creation, which brings us to a grounded place emotionally and naturally improves our mood. 

+ Good for the immune system. Playing in the dirt exposes us to good bacteria in our environment. Kind of like nature's probiotic if you will. ;) 

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+ It can be exercise: The days after we plant our garden are some of my sorest days! Hamstrings, triceps, biceps, abs oh my! It's because digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks that require strength or stretching are excellent forms of low-impact exercise! 

+ It's good for your brain! Some research suggests that the physical activity associated with gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia. 

+ Good nutrition is good for mind, body and soul! The vegetables, herbs and fruit grown in your backyard are ideally organic and are super fresh, so the nutrients, minerals and enzymes are still active. Feeding your body the best is good for you physically, mentally, and emotionally!

Be outside, grow your own food, connect to nature, relieve stress and anxiety, boost immunity and brain health and improve mood all at the same time? Sign me up. Honestly it sounds like a commercial for the perfect pharmaceutical medication, except with gardening there are no disclaimers or side effects. Just some good old fashioned dirt under your fingernails. 

DIY Outdoor Spray

When we first got started with essential oils, one of the things I most wanted to make was an outdoor spray. Since we do a lot of camping, hiking, and paddling, we are always on the lookout for natural alternatives to the chemical-laden sprays that are on the market. #ThankGodfor essential oils! Here is my tried and true recipe for our outdoor spray:

You will need:
A 4oz glass spray bottle
Filtered water
A pinch of epsom salt
5 drops purification essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil
2-5 drops peppermint essential oil* (2 for using on little ones, 5 if for adults only)
3 drops lemongrass essential oil
Dissolve epsom salt in about 2 oz of filtered water, then pour into the glass spray bottle. Add essential oils and fill with remaining filtered water. Shake well and spray directly onto skin before heading out the door! Repeat application as needed!

We keep a batch made and typically split it into two small bottles, one that we keep near the back door and another that I keep in my bag during the summer.


If you want to know more about essential oils and why we use them, click here. To get started using your own oils, click here!

Saturday Dates + Water Bottles

This past Saturday husband and I went on a mini-adventure together, and it was just so fun. We woke up early and went to walk around and hike to the top of Stone Mountain, pushing ourselves to get in a mini-workout on the climb to the top. Then we sat and drank cold water and hot coffee and let the cool breeze blow in our faces and looked at the gorgeous landscape around and beneath us. There is just something about being on the top of the world that I just love. We talked and wandered and took pictures (me) and did hand stands (husband). Then we climbed back down the mountain and had a breakfast date.

It was so refreshing to spend some time alone with my man doing the things we really enjoy. I am learning as much as I adore spending time together as a family, it's easy to ignore the need for couple time, that this time that we have alone together is so vital to our relationship and well-being.  I tell you, I wouldn't want to share this life with anyone else. 

And to top it all off, my sweet man surprised me with what may seem like a trivial gift to a lot of people, but to me it was completely life-changing, a stainless steel insulated hydroflask. We both drink a ton of water and don't leave home without a 48oz water bottle in tow. And since I love having ice-cold water in the summer, I often tote around a dripping wet water bottle with half melted ice all summer long. But my thoughtful man used our dividend and a gift card to get us each one of the hydroflask bottles. LOVE. I had ice in my bottle all day Saturday, and even after sitting in the car for four hours, the ice hadn't melted! Life-Changing. Sometimes, it's the little things.

Valentine's Day 2015

We had the best Valentine's Day this past weekend! Breakfast at home with heart-shaped biscuits and an afternoon outside.

 My thoughtful, encouraging husband had the idea to take a picnic lunch to our favorite state park and then take a long walk along the mountain bike trails. It was wonderful! We took our camp chairs and table and spread a blanket out on the pine straw. Elliot naturally wanted to crawl around in the pine straw and not stay on the blanket, so we just let him. He was in heaven! The sky was so blue, the sun was shining, and the air was cool and crisp. We ate our lunch and chatted and just soaked up a little vitamin D before hitting the trails for a long walk. 

It was such a great day. I honestly really enjoyed just being outside and being together. We left our phones in the car and just enjoyed nature and enjoyed each other. I've mentioned it before, but we are  focusing on being present, especially when it comes to spending time with Elliot and spending time as a family.