Hiking up to Amicalola Falls!

Guys, it was harder than I thought it would be.

A lot harder.

Ascending to the top of Amicalola Falls is no simple feat. This 729-foot waterfall is nestled atop a cliff in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and is considered the southeast's tallest cascading waterfall. While my little family was enjoying a mountain getaway in Ellijay last weekend, we decided to hike up to the Falls that I had previously heard so much about. I knew it would be strenuous, especially with a toddler in tow, but we were just crazy/enthusiastic/high on mountain air to gleefully attempt such a feat. And while it was obviously worth is and totally beautiful, I will say that it wasn't easy. Okay, it was downright hard. There, I said it.

Stevie wore Everett in a hiking pack (ours is from REI and is no longer available but see similar here) and I wore a Camelbak (similar here) with all our snacks, water, and of course the camera, and we found ourselves seriously huffing and puffing to get to the top. The 2.1-mile trail begins like a normal hike and then turns into a series of steep, winding staircases that lead you to the top of the falls. I didn't do a great job of photographing the actual stairs (because those were the moments that the camera stayed put away, because well, I was wheezing for the life of me), but now I really wish I had a shot of those rickety stairs that looked like they were leading up to a forest of Heaven. It was quite an experience, climbing those 600-ish steps. Everett did a zillion times better than he did the last time we hiked (thank goodness!), so at least his kicking and screaming wasn't an issue this time around. But even though the trail was seriously challenging, my two boys were happily chattering, singing songs and making animal noises the whole time. Stevie asked Everett about the sounds that really obscure animals make, like giraffes and zebras. Who even knows? But Everett made up some really hideous screeches that he found thrillingly entertaining and proceeded to die laughing and then make more of the same sounds. These two are just peas in a pod these days.

This pack stands up on it's own, even with a kid inside! Such a great gift that we got from our buds Travis and Liz :)

We found a crazy tree. What could possibly have caused it to grow like that??

The pinnacle of the hike was getting up to the falls. However, it was crazy crowded at the top (we are talking swarms of people, children, dogs and trail mix), so we didn't manage to get a good family pic of the three of us at the top. It was actually kind of claustrophobic. But we decided to continue the hike up above the falls and managed to take in this view:

Getting to see this sweeping view of the valley below from up above the trees was incredible. Watching the eagles soar at our eye level was a little eerie and wondrous all at once. We stood there for a long time, drinking in the view and enjoying the lack of swarming hikers. It's moments like these that I'm reminded of just how GREEN the state of Georgia is. And I don't really mean eco-friendly green, I just mean GREEN green. It's the greenest, leafiest, kudzu-iest state.

This is kind of a bad photo of us, but I still love it because this was when we finally reached the top of the mountain and Everett and I plopped down in the middle of the trail and ate fruit snacks. Which he calls "fruit sans". I love how he carefully watched me dole out each bite would immediately demand, "more!" before he even finished his bite. He's something, that little guy. Also, his hat plus tank top just kill me. I bought him more of these tank tops this week.

We came, we hiked, we conquered. It was an awesome experience, one that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in hiking to a gorgeous view and can handle the 600+ stairs that lead up to the falls. I'm sure Stevie would agree that without a toddler on your back screeching "duck sounds" at the top of their lungs, this gig would be much easier to accomplish. But then, what's the fun in that? :)

P.S. - If you into other hiking/camping adventures, check out the time we went glamping with our toddler, and the time I road-tripped and camped across the U.S.

Spotted: Cabin Decor

Cabin Chic.

Winter is the perfect time to shack up in cabin in the woods. I recently spent a week in Blue Ridge, Georgia and I was really taken with the quirky decor I found in the cabin. It set the tone for a cozy week of inside activities with the family, and I wanted to share a few of the decor takeaways.

1. Do You See What I See.

There was a common theme in the cabin: owls. In every room of the house, there were little owl eyes peeking out, watching. Okay, that sounds a bit creepy, but since I LOVE Owls (shout out to my Alma Mater, KSU!) I found their presence really fun. It was like a tiny little surprise in each corner. Here are just a few of the cuties I found around the house. It was like a scavenger hunt, trying to capture them all on camera.

2. Getting Rich: Color.

The colors in the home were dark and rich, mixing warm and cool elements. Golden cedar walls, warm plummy paint and robust brass accessories lent to the impressive, old-world feeling of the big airy home. The art hanging on the walls displayed sharp scenery in thickly-painted, slightly careless brushstrokes.

Delightfully dark. Kind of made me have a hankering for a snifter of brandy.

3. Pattern & Texture.

The detailing of the house was impeccable. The upholstery was deeply textured and antiquated. The furniture displayed carefully hand-painted fleur de lis. I wanted to photograph everything, from the books to pictures to the bowls we ate out of. It was all just so beautiful and unique, but different than my style. It wasn't feminine and anthropologie-esque, but it was more earthy and hearty. Strong stone, weathered cedar. Lived-in furniture. Yes, that chair has been sat in. A lot.

Recipe for Cozy.

Staying in this home in the woods for a week was like being transformed to another world. A world of books, fireside chats and coffee time. The cozy details only lent to the wonderfully warm charm of spending a week with family. All of these elements got my brain ticking about how to produce such a cozy and inspired effect in my own home. If you're not an interior designer, these few elements will create the desired, winter wonderland setting. Choosing a strong theme (in this case, owls) along with dark colors, warm textures, wooden and stone accents and aged furniture is just the ticket. Just remember to include blankets; it can produce a chilly effect!

Adventure: Blue Ridge Mountains


Happy New Year! I hope you are excited for the gift of 2013! My New Years' celebration was spent up in the North Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains. This has become a yearly tradition that my parents graciously treat my family to, and I really look forward to it. This trip to a cabin in the woods is usually the most relaxing time of my entire year, and boy, do I crave relaxation! Now that my family lives in three different states, it is really special when we can all coordinate time to reunite, relax and dream together. The town of Blue Ridge is quaint and makes for a great afternoon of walking and shopping, but for the most part we lounged around the cabin and did what we do best: NOTHING.


We cooked. We played scrabble. We read. And then we hit the hot tub. It's a really rigorous schedule, but someone's got to do it, right? I was spoiled rotten because I got to play with my 3-year-old nephew (and godson!), Oliver, everyday. His imagination is brilliant. He is already a master artist with Play-dough and he sings and plays the harmonica fearlessly. His golden smile lights up the room. I can't believe how amazing it is to see my sister and brother-in-law's traits in him.


It might sound really cheesy, but sitting in the hot tub and staring at the mountain range was really inspiring. There was something therapeutic about being outdoors in the crisp air with the hot water enveloping my crazed mind. I could close my eyes and feel my thoughts quiet down. All the chaos and commotion and holiday stress slowly began to melt away... oh there is nothing like peace. As much as I strive for it in my daily walk, it is usually achieved by deleting the strife and letting God be God. What a concept, right?


I am still in the process of gathering my year-end thoughts and creating some resolutions for the new year. I want to be very honest with myself about what I can commit to doing. Measureable, actionable goals are what I'm going for, but that takes some planning. I think I need to buy myself a cup of coffee and have a bit more "me" time.

What about you? Did you have a holiday getaway that helped you relax? Any tips for creating resolutions?