Photo Friday 10/52

Photo Friday 10/52

My grandmother and I flew down to Louisiana yesterday to visit my parents, brother, SIL, and niece. The visit was a total surprise for my niece. It was so great to see her big smile as she came running off the school bus. I love this kid.

Smoky Mountain Christmas, no not the movie

Smoky Mountain ChristmasWith posts about Christmas in Asheville and the Upstate, I suppose we can consider this the third of my merry trifecta.

Earlier this month, my parents invited me to go along with them for a little getaway in the Smoky Mountains. Our little trip turned out to be a great time filled with old favorites and some fun new experiences.

We rolled into Sevierville/Pigeon Forge around lunch on Saturday and headed to The Partridge and The Pear Tree for lunch. This restaurant is part of The Incredible Christmas Place complex. Mom and I selected this place after viewing the menu online. We had high hopes but given the holiday theme, I was just a little afraid the food might suffer to bend to the kitschy theme.  Thankfully, I was wrong about that. The restaurant didn’t seem tacky at all. The decorators seemed to understand that you would have diners in December and July and they showed appropriate restraint. The food was tasty. The meal starts with a loaf of hot cranberry orange bread. YUMMM!! Mom had the blacked catfish. It was spicy and didn’t taste of fish – yeah, I wrote it but you don’t like fishy-fish either so quit snickering at me. Dad had a large salad with lots of veggies and the boxing day sandwich which is basically a leftover sandwich – turkey, cornbread dressing, and cranberry mayo. He enjoyed it but said that he might order something else the next time. I had the Cuban with ” ‘Tis the Season” fries. My sandwich was very flavorful and filling. I only ate half because I was in love with the fries. These are crispy white-and-sweet potato fries are seasoned with salt and cracked black pepper.  I hate sweet potato fries but these were awesome. We were very tempted by the cakes, including a five-layer sampler where each layer is a different flavor but we were good. I doubt the same restraint would be shown on a repeat visit.

Later that evening we walked off some of our dinner during a visit to The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. We enjoyed window shopping, a cup of coffee from the ice cream parlor (no ice cream, we were angels that day really) and sampling in the Farm House Kitchen shop.

The next day we made the drive over to Gatlinburg for strolling around and the Trolley Ride of Lights. At my urging, we made a stop at Karmelkorn soon after arriving. Not only does Karmelkorn make wonderful popcorn, it also brings back lots of happy memories. Honestly, if someone could find a way to get me one of their popcorn “suckers” made from colored, sticky popcorn with sugar eyes and a red licorice smile, I might explode from happiness.

In an effort to keep me from inhaling my entire box of popcorn, we walked down to the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen. This is the spot to get taffy in Gatlinburg, even the local bears prefer it. I have spent hours watching taffy production in Gatlinburg during my lifetime and I doubt I’ll ever grow tired of it. In addition to the husband’s taffy (cherry, vanilla, grape), we also picked up some yummy handmade sugar-free chocolates.

Our wondering landed us at All Sauced Up, a newer shop specializing in all kinds of sauces, jams, and gadgets. They have lots of samples. It’s definitely worth visiting.

We made a few other stops and then it was time to board our trolley to see the Christmas lights. The fare is $5 and seems well worth it for the amount of fun we had. We all sang carols and learned little tidbits about the festivities and the area. For instance, Gatlinburg switched to LED lights a few years ago and while the initial investment was steep, the city is saving a lot of money on electricity. The lighting features in Gatlinburg were designed by locals and are all trademarked so you won’t see them anywhere else. If you want to see the lights, make reservations for the trolley using the site above. Pigeon Forge also has lights but they do not run light tours on the weekends.

It was a great little trip and I’m thankful for the opportunity to go. I enjoyed being in a place with so many happy memories with the two people who are responsible for a lot of them.


Point of no return

The sentiments behind this post have been tugging at me for a while. When a friend lost her father to cancer just before Thanksgiving, I knew I needed to write it.

Before I get to the point, and it’s coming I promise, let me say that I am lucky. I have been blessed with an amazing family. We aren’t perfect. We can be nosy, overly critical, opinionated…we can be real annoyances at times. But, I wouldn’t trade my family and I’m pretty sure they feel the same about me, even when I am making them nuts.

There are a lot of other people in this world who aren’t that lucky. For them, the familial relationship is toxic, not warm and supporting. This isn’t caused by a minor argument or hurt feelings but by very real threats to a person’s mental, and sometimes physical, health. Their well-being depends on staying away from their relations. For these people, cutting ties with their family is the only decision but it is never an easy one and it’s certainly not something that they want to do. Some took decades of abuse before letting go; others could take this treatment for themselves but couldn’t see a spouse or child endure the same. No one wants to be in this situation. No matter how necessary the decision, it still comes with grief and a sense of loss.

These people I understand. I can’t really relate to their decision, but I get it.

What I don’t understand are people who willingly push their family members away for minor wrongs – whether real or perceived. Instead of trying to overcome their problems and forgive, they sit in judgment and use love like a weapon. They’re all too willing to turn their backs on a sibling, spouse, child, parent, or other relation often just because the other person made a life choice that they don’t like. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that God doesn’t treat us that way.

To these people I say, “build a bridge and get over it.” We’re humans – sometimes we get things wrong. Of course sometimes we just do things you don’t like and that’s not the same as being wrong. You can turn your back on your loved ones. You can treat them maliciously. You can withhold your love. You can’t possibly be surprised when that “offending” family member decides that he/she is tired of being hurt and stops giving you the opportunity to do so.






Thank you

“Be thankful for your trials.
If you’re being tested, you’re being perfected.
Which means you have a divine purpose & reason to rejoice!”  anon.

This year has been a mixed bag. We’ve enjoyed so many wonderful and unexpected blessings and with them have come challenges – some harder than I ever imagined. I wouldn’t have made it through without the support of family and friends. I want to thank all of you for listening, making me get out of the house, helping with the move, making me laugh, and so many other things that I can’t hope to list. You all mean more to me than you know.

I hope your Thanksgiving is spent with those that you love and that the coming holiday season is full of blessings and His perfect peace.