24 Hours in Chattanooga Ruby Falls and Incline Railway

The second portion of our 24 hours in Chattanooga was spent at Ruby Falls and the Incline Railway. I had discovered the day before that Ruby Falls was about an hour tour in a cave. I’m not a huge fan of caves so truth is, I wasn’t looking forward to this portion of our trip but I like a challenge so to the caves we went!

Chattanooga

As we were waiting our turn to take the elevator trip down 260 feet into the earth I had time to reflect on my life just in case the earth decided to quake and the tons of rocks caved in on us. Just kidding. I actually read the story of Leo Lambert and how he set out to reopen the cave to the public that was used by Native Americans and both the Confederate and Rebels of the war against the States as a hospital. I read how Leo discovered the waterfall that was 1,120 feet below the surface of Lookout Mountain, and how he named the falls after his wife, Ruby.

Chattanooga

Our time spent in the cave was interesting and not really as bad as I expected. It didn’t really feel cave-ish. Some of the rock formations were interesting and the way they used lighting down in the cavern was most effective.

Lookout Mountain

 

Lookout Mountain

This was named Donkey because it resembled the back side of one. Someone had a vivid imagination.

Lookout Mountain

The lights doing their thing reflecting off the water was lovely.

Chattanooga

This one called Tobacco Leaves may be deemed as politically incorrect but it did remind me of tobacco leaves, which in turn reminded me of my grandfather’s tobacco barn. Had to snap a shot!

A cave, is a cave, is a cave but I would be remiss if I didn’t regale you with a short video of the waterfall itself. Have you been there? Have you seen it? The lights and music in the distant background added to the experience for sure! Here is a short video of the highest underground commercial waterfall in America.

 

And then we made our last stop before turning our car northward and heading home. We rode the Incline Railway, “America’s Most Amazing Mile”, ascending on a 72.7% grade, while taking in the stunning views.

Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain

The end of the 24 hours in Chattanooga had finally come to an end. We grabbed a bite to eat and then headed home. A fast and fun-filled trip.

24 Hours in Chattanooga Springhill Suites Marriott

Disclosure: All opinions are my own. I was given a discount on a room.

After about an hour of riding around in Chattanooga and our Rock City adventure during our 24 hours in Chattanooga, checking our GPS and making phone calls, we found Springhill Suites Marriott at Cameron Harbor. The interesting thing about this hotel is it is the only hotel on the river. There was another hotel with a river view and a few others nearby but we knew what we looking for so we made our decision.

Chattanooga

The staff was excellent, which is no surprise as they are ranked third in the country for customer service of all the Springhill Suites. They are going for the first place slot and my money would be on them if I were a betting girl. The front desk was most helpful and efficient. Amy, the desk clerk on duty, went above and beyond in making sure we had what we needed and that we were satisfied with the accommodations. She made an excellent recommendation for a place to eat in the Bluff View area, an artsy part of downtown.

We walked across a glass bridge above passing traffic below as we were looking for a place to grab a dessert. That was kind of fun and not something I do every day, but I have gotten off topic. I want to tell you more about Springhill Suites!

beyondmybluedoor

Springhill Suites at Cameron Harbor was a quiet setting (which I love) but only a ½ mile to the Aquarium, The Block, which is a parking garage with a huge rock climbing wall on the outside of the building, and a couple of dozen restaurants. Our room had a private balcony that was right on the river. This may sound lame but we spent more than a minute or two looking at fish swimming below from our fourth floor room, and throwing Wheat Thins for the fish, turtles and ducks to go for. Most didn’t.

Chattanooga

Springhill Suites was clean and pleasingly decorated. The sleek lines of the décor added to the overall ambiance of the hotel. I must admit, I am very picky about the places I stay. I have changed hotels mid-stay more times than I care to say, just ask my kids. I have high standards when it comes to a room. Springhill Suites definitely passed my test.

There is a lovely courtyard with a fire pit at Springhill Suites. The night was warm and muggy so we passed on that bit of relaxation but the other features were nice too: an indoor pool with a Jacuzzi, and an exercise room.

courtyard

Marriott

 

Marriott

Lookout Mountain

I did actually use one of these….not for a real workout, more like a try-out.

Springhill Suits serves a complimentary breakfast each morning which includes both hot and cold selections. I truly can’t say enough good things about the place. I would definitely stay there again for a number of reasons. Being on the river, close to town with many attractions close at hand, not to mention the place itself, well let’s just say I highly recommend Springhill Suites Marriott at Cameron Harbor.

Springhill Suites

A great place to write a blog post.

Chattanooga

A comfy bed with a view of the river. Hard to get up!

There was a complimentary breakfast with both hot and cold offerings. The dining area was clean and well-stocked. There was a mart that had many items ready for purchase.

Springhill Suites

Chattanooga

The entire place had an appeal that was pleasing to the eye and inviting for all. I just can’t say enough good things about Springhill Suites Marriott in Chattanooga. I would definitely stay there again!

Lookout Mountain

Chattanooga

Marriott

Chattanooga

We were well rested and fed and ready for the rest of our stay during our 24 hours in Chattanooga.

24 Hours in Chattanooga Rock City

Have you ever been to Chattanooga, Tennessee? I have passed through many times on my way to Florida for family vacations as a kid and as an adult. I even stayed the night there once while on the way to Daytona Beach many, many years ago, but that was only to grab a few winks before making the rest of the trip. This time it was our destination; 24 hours in Chattanooga.

My husband has been on vacation for a week, with another week ahead. We decided to get out of town for a mini vacay…very mini, but a fun trip nonetheless. I knew my plans were a little ambitious with the amount of time we had to spend but hey, I’m always up for a challenge.

Rock City

We arrived at Ruby Falls on Lookout Mountain early afternoon on Sunday. We knew we were going to visit all three attractions on the mountain so our best bet was to purchase the three tickets together. This helped to offset the cost of the attractions.

Chattanooga

Sunday we took in the sites of Rock City. What an amazing place that was, walking around on the top of the mountain looking at all the lovely vegetation with views of the valley below. There were also sightings of gnomes. I don’t get the whole gnome thing they have going on, however, it works, so why mess with it?

Rock City

One of the fun things we did was walk across a swinging bridge. It was an experience all its own. It was safe and sturdy but a swinging bridge in those altitudes was a bit daunting.

Chattanooga

One of the best surprises was Café 7 tucked away on the top of the mountain. We knew we were going to stop and dine al fresco on the edge of Lookout Mountain, regardless of the fact that we weren’t really hungry. We decided to settle for a bit of libation until the waitress told us how good the food was. We were thinking she could have been a little biased but the Fried Green tomato BLT with avocado, and Chipotle mayo was to die for. And the fries? I must confess, I do enjoy a good fry more often than I care to admit. We could have stayed all day but we knew we had to keep moving.

Rock City

Rock City

Another added attraction in Chattanooga is the Tennessee River that winds itself around the city. With that thought in mind, we knew we wanted a room with a view so we set about searching for just the right place. And found it we did, Springhill Suites Marriott at Cameron Harbor.

Chattanooga

A few more random shots:

Lookout Mountain

Chattanooga

Lookout Mountain

Rock City

5 Ways to Help Your Child Have a Great School Year

5 Ways to Help Your Child Have a Great School Year

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again, back to school! I know there are some schools around the country that have already started, and some schools are starting in a few weeks. Whenever school starts for your student there are 5 ways to help your child have a great school year.

  1. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. It’s not even about the hours you sleep as much as it is about consistent sleep at the time the body needs it. Between the hours of 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM are the times the body gets the most beneficial sleep. Keep it consistent and you’ve done your child a huge favor in making this year a great school year.
  2. Keep the stress level down. Kids get stressed too, usually because of a chaotic environment. Learn to manage your stress and that will help your child in school, and in all areas of life. Not only will your behavior become a model for them throughout their lives, but it will help them be more focused on the now.
  3. Routines are a good thing. No, really! Variety has its place in life but if you keep a regular routine going throughout the school year it will keep things on an even keel, which will allow your child to focus on what’s important. There are always exceptions to any well-laid plan because life happens. Having a routine takes the guess work out for your child and insures you will be ready for the unexpected.
  4. Avoid extracurricular overload. We as a culture, have a tendency to do more than we can manage. After all, we don’t want to deprive our children of opportunities to experience new things, right? Trying to cram too much into a day adds undue stress on everybody. Learn to balance the extracurricular stuff and you’re off to a great start in helping your child have a great school year. Bonus: when some special event does come along you won’t be over committed and you will be able to take advantage of the opportunity.
  5. Teach your child respect; respect for self, respect for time and respect for others. This will help cut down on a lot of drama and allow your child to focus on the important stuff.

This may seem like an unconventional list of things to help your child have the best school year ever, and I guess in a way it is. But these are important life-skills to have, and will be effective when applied to their school year as well.

Here’s to a great school year for you and your child!

Easy Apple Pie

My son who just turned 18 wanted apple pie or peach cobbler for his birthday instead of cake. A different request from the traditional Coca Cola Cake he usually wants, but hey, it’s his birthday. What the heck? I made both easy apple pie and peach cobbler.

The apple pie recipe is my mom’s. She makes it better. Just ask Luke.

The peach cobbler is hers too. It failed as well. Both edible but not quite up to par.

beyondmybluedoor.com

Here is the recipe for this easy apple pie. I hope yours turns out better than mine!

Apple Pie

4 apples (I used Granny Smith)

1 cup sugar, divided

1 teaspoon cinnamon 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup butter

1 frozen, deep dish pie crust

Cut apples and arrange in a pie crust. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon. Mix remaining sugar and flour. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Bake at 450º for 10 minutes; then bake at 350º for 40 minutes or until apples are tender.

apples

 

pie

I didn’t take a picture of the baked pie. I baked the pie on 450º the entire time so the pie was a bit burned. Throw some ice cream on top and botta bing, botta boom, you have yourself a pie.

I didn’t include the peach cobble photos, I just couldn’t, but here’s the recipe. It really is good and easy too.

Peach Cobbler

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup sugar

1 stuck butter

1 quart sweetened, heated peaches (or other fruit) 1 cup milk

Melt butter in baking dish in oven while combining sugar, flour and milk. Beat until smooth. Pour into melted butter. Add heated peaches. Do not stir. Bake at 400º degrees until brown.

 

Homeschooling-The Mommy Mess

My friend Adrienne, over at The Mommy Mess, has a homeschooling series going on called Home School Mom Confessions. I was there Friday talking about The Confessions of a Retired Homeschool Mom. It was great fun, and I just love Adrienne and her blog. I met her in person at a conference in St. Louis. She is a doll! She is warm and friendly and a great writer.  Check out my post, and while you’re there, stick around and see what else Adrienne is up to. I know you will be glad you did!

homeschool

Here’s a sneak-peek at what I wrote:

I am a retired homeschool mom.

I just finished my last year of homeschooling due to the inevitable, our kids grew up and the youngest child graduated. I have many confessions as a homeschool
mom and I feel the need to share them with you. Confession is good for the soul, right?

Here are my homeschool mom confessions in no particular order.

Click here to read the rest!

 

Our Baby Turns 18 Today!

When I think back to the day our baby, the youngest of three, was born, I do so with mixed emotions. Our baby turns 18 today! Mixed emotions because this pregnancy was the worse one of the three…should I go into details? If you insist.

Beyondmybluedoor.com

Why is it that women love to revel in the sordid, gory, details of a pregnancy and birth? Heads up! Here comes another tale, my friend.

I was plagued with issues I didn’t have the first two times around the pregnancy-go-round. Think stretched beyond belly limits before the third trimester.

Think holding my stomach up with both hands for added support as I walked around.

Think weight of the baby producing hemorrhoids (too much info?). They bled.

Think three days past due date which were the longest three days of my life.

I must admit, however, this was not the worse birth. That is accredited to the oldest child.

I remember that I fondly referred to the attending nurse of the birth of this third-born child, as Attila the Hun. Not to her face mind you, and not so fondly really. She was memorable, however. We had a mutual dislike of one another almost immediately, which is not something I recommend for any about-to-give-birth woman when forging a relationship with the nurse of the day. But I have digressed.

The first two babies came as surprises. Well, not the babies themselves, for I had ample opportunity to prepare for their additions to our lives. Nine months in fact. It’s just that my husband and I were married for 10 years before conception ever occurred. I was beginning to wonder (WORRY) if I would ever experience the longed for baby in my arms and lay claim to the title of Mother.

Luke, the birthday boy turning adult, was a deliberated decision, a choice to do it one more time, no matter how much I hated being pregnant and the delivery process. I wanted to do it again because the clock was ticking and my time to become a mother again was about to run out.

This is really not where I thought this story was going, but what the heck?

No two pregnancies or birth experiences are alike, I can attest to that. As much as I wanted to enjoy being pregnant because it had taken 10 long, agonizing, be-happy-for-all-my-friends-who-were-becoming-mothers years to finally get pregnant myself, I didn’t; I didn’t enjoy it at all. I tried really hard to like being pregnant but I. Just. Didn’t.

Why is it, if I may ask, that other pregnant women look so darn cute when I felt like the Goodyear blimp? And why too, do the pregnancies of other women seem to pass by as quickly as a week of vacation on the beach, when my own trudged by like the long winter months that refuse to let go so the next season can spring forth?

I felt like I had the flu for the first term of every pregnancy. Yes I did. In fact, the first time around, I thought I did have the flu. My entire body ached and I was as sick as a dog. Not sure how sick that is, but let me tell you, I was can’t-get-out-of-bed sick! For the first four months. It passed and the second trimester was actually enjoyable…ok, not enjoyable per se, but do-able. I could deal.

When the second pregnancy occurred, and let me just add right here and now and for the record that I was thrilled by this discovery, because I truly did want another child, and I didn’t want to wait another 10 years to have another child, but I must admit, getting pregnant again when our daughter was a year old was not quite what I had in mind.

All’s well that ends well.

Our older two kids were 6 and 4 when the baby was born. I chose to do it again. I’m glad I did.

The boy is a man.

His birthday is today.

Our baby turns 18.

 

 

How Do You Handle Change?

Change is a sure bet. It’s sort of like death and taxes, it’s coming to us all, like it or not! How do you handle change?

How Do You Handle Change?

Graphic Credit: The SITS Girls

I was on The SITS Girls yesterday talking about this very topic. This is how it started:

It matters not who you are, or even where you are in life, one thing is for sure…change is coming for us all. How do you handle it? Change is a good thing, right? It depends on how you look at it, and how you approach the situation.

You can click this link to read the entire post: How Do You Handle Change? But before you do, tell me how you handle change.

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

I have baked these easy-to-make chocolate peanut butter cookie bars a few times over the years. I had some peanuts I wanted to use up so I pulled out this recipe.

1 pkg (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix

1/2 pkg (3.9 oz) Jell-O Pudding

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1/2 cup cold milk

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

1 cup dry roasted peanuts, divided

1 cup creamy peanut butter

Heat oven to 350. Line 13×9 inch dish with foil; spray with cooking spray. Mix first 4 ingredients until blended. Mixture will be thick. Press half the cake mix mixture into prepared pan.

Bake 10 minutes. Sprinkle half each of the chocolate and  nuts over crust. Top with peanut butter. Cover with layers of remaining cake mix mixture, chocolate and nuts. Press gently with spatula. Bake 15 minutes. Cool 1 hour. Refrigerate 4 hours before cutting into bars.

beyondmybluedoor.com

beyondmybluedoor.com

End of an Era

The end of an era is here. I have been cleaning houses for 21 years. I started when I was 10. Okay, so that was a joke, I’m not really 31. I was once, but that was a very long time ago. I digress, however. Seven years ago I took on some commercial businesses and my part time house cleaning gig became a small, home based business. It also served to fulfill a goal I had, my desire to have a family business.

My kids (and husband too) became my contract laborers…without the contract. It was a given. That’s when life became extra interesting. You don’t really know a person until you work with a person. You really don’t know a person until you become their boss in a work environment.

beyondmybluedoor.com

I fired each of my kids over the course of seven years, some of them multiple times. Yes I did.

Jacob, my middle kid, was the one I fired most often. He was actually the one who wanted to work for/with me the least. He did his job for the most part, but his heart wasn’t in it. Hey, it’s cleaning, how much is ANYONE’S heart into that?

Jacob was the first to leave me when he decided he needed more money and more hours. He has been working at Kroger, putting himself through school for the past 4 years. He is a valuable and trusted employee and I’m just sure his time with me aided him in all respects. Who knows, those firings could have made a lasting impact. :)

My husband was the next to go. He wasn’t really looking for a part time job. He got the job by default…my fault actually. I had mixed emotions about his leaving. He could clean a bathroom like nobody’s business. You could eat on the bathroom floor and feel good about it when he was finished. The problem was this: time is money. It was hard to keep him from fixating on the minute things in this biz and keep the job moving. He would make an excellent detail guy as long as he charged by the hour, just saying.

Brittany was with me until a few months ago. She had a love/hate relationship with the job, and oftentimes her mother as well. She too needed more hours, more money and a new boss. She left with my blessings.

We had adapted well with the first two losses suffered, h0wever, I must admit I was concerned when the five of us became two.

Luke, the baby of the family, and I were left to carry on our cleaning tradition. What was once very good money for an 11 year old kid had now become just so-so. It worked for a while, since he was a senior in high school and wanted the flexibility his position had to offer, but now that he has graduated he too sees the need for more money and hours. His final time to clean will be this weekend. The end of an era is upon me.

I knew this time was coming. I’m sad in a small way, no really! I know I have a hard time letting go of things and you know this too if you are a regular reader. But I say good-bye to this time with only a bit of sadness. I will miss the small amount of time I have with Luke when we work together, but I am excited about the next chapter, the growing chapter, the re-structuring chapter, the working with someone who isn’t a part of my family chapter.

All good things must come to an end. This family business that I had is following suit. The end of an era is here.