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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Burgess Falls

It was an unseasonably warm winter Saturday... so we decided to go on an adventure. We choice Burgess Falls. Little did we know we would run it to people we knew or the form mayor would snap a family photo for us. But sometimes that's just how it goes.

Burgess Falls is actually three falls (think small medium and large). The lookout decks were all closed when we went due to storm damage and the trail down to the big falls. Which was disappointing, they said it probably won't be open again for at least a year. But we still had fun hiking the trail and enjoy the other two waterfalls.

Wonder what this use to be? And what is through that little hole?

The family photo the former mayor snapped for us.

 Fall #1

 Fall #2

Back at the car we couldn't resist getting one more photo!

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas From The Cottage

Lights twinkling, carols being sung round the fire. Presents opened beneath the Christmas tree. Cups of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows and hugs from the people you love. Across the street or across the miles, wishing you a very merry Christmas from the Cottage.

Thank you all for being here, for caring to read what we write. Thank you for following us on this journey He has set before us. As we approach our 4 year anniversary we find ourselves blessed by each and everyone of you. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to spend a few moments with us.

We wish you a wonderful Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our savior, and a happy New Year.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

All I Want For Christmas

Work calls and off I go. The kids hanging onto my slacks as I try to uncurl their tiny fingers from the fabric so I can slide out the door.

It is another Saturday at the office, Starbucks in hand and rushing to get in once again. The guilt of the promises hanging in the air but next weekend we can do it. Sure I leave when it is dark and return when it is dark but it won't be long now until...

I saw a study where they asked children what they wanted from Santa and they all listed this toy- that game Etc. Then they asked them what they wanted from their parents - overwhelmingly the answer was time and love from mom and dad.

Parents- in the hustle a bustle of life please don't forget, the best gift you can give your kids can't be wrapped in paper but only in your presence. We- none of us are promised tomorrow. In the blink of an eye, everything can change... Cherish every moment. Littles are only little a short while.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

When The Holidays Find You Empty

She has spared no expense. Real evergreen garland and a towering tree that was delivered, the ornaments of the utmost class and style adorn the branches. White lights and crystal sparkle in the silence of the evening. Gifts under the boughs wrapped by the talented ladies at the department store perfect bows on top of each and everyone. It is a perfect magazine Christmas scene. The lighting is perfect, everything in its place... perfection.

Only it's not. There is no family gathering about the tree. The family chooses to be anywhere but there to avoid the drama. Past hurts like blaring red signs light up every year- things you just can't seem to let go and that Christmas just seems to rub salt into- and oh, how that burns!

See we can spend a fortune on the outside appearance of the holidays. We can buy the most expensive gifts and lights and food. But- what money can't buy is the stuff built the other 364 days of the year. It is those relationships around us those patterns of treating others with love, with respect. It is fighting  for one another- instead of with one another. It is the breaking of destructive patterns- it's getting help when you need it, a third party to help the wrong be made right.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

I'm not saying it is all on us. I am not saying that God wants us to be hurt by destructive people. But I do know that we are supposed to act like Jesus and that He was loving and winsome and as for me- I have a whole lot of work to do trying to look more like Him. And the more I am like Him the happier I and everyone else around me will be.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Little Things

We talked about all the ways we were going to do things differently. It was just yesterday- 8 hours ago. This year we are going to take time for us- for love. For our relationship. He said he was going to stop working so much overtime and spend more time with the kids.

This year we will take that vacation! How about up to the mountains in that cabin like we always wanted, or maybe Disney for the kids- Then in a heartbeat its all over.

CPR and sirens, flashing lights and paramedics and you're gone.

Childhood sweethearts not a widow. Mommy and daddy not alone. Parents not a single parent.

All those hours wasted. All those words left unspoken. All those moments I can never get back.

The times we slept with our backs facing one another in petty anger. All those silent treatments. All those times I failed to hug you. All those times I didn't call I love you- as you sailed our the door.

It is our first Christmas without you- and I don't know how to do this, I don't know how to make it be all bright and happy all alone.

The things I took for granted- like the way you ate the cookies leaving just the crumbs behind or the footprints from the fireplace, leaving just a trail as a sign. How can I do this without you?

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Monday, December 14, 2015

When The Holidays Find You In A Foxhole

Dear Mom & Pop,

Well it's Christmas time again, and I can only imagine the excitement back home. Of hot chocolate at our hometown Christmas parade- grandpa & grandma snuggled under the old plaid blanket sitting in their folding chairs on the sidewalk. I can almost see Lucy marching along the route with her reindeer nose passing out candy to the kids. Mom, I can almost smell your cookies in the oven, being baked for all the neighbors- did you make my favorite this year? Sure wish I was there to taste them. You never could bake cookies without me picking in the dough bowl or sneaking samples of them right out of the oven when you would put them out to cool. It's funny the things that you miss.

I miss you all so much.

I'm ok. Life isn't at all what I expected over here. The things that a person sees.  I would have never believed if you had told me.

Billy says hi and thanks for the socks. You don't know how much a good pair of socks mean to a soldier. He has not had one letter from home, so I share mine. I read them aloud to the fellows and the guys all love it.  They all got a good laugh out of Jenny's fruit cake coming out like a door stop. Funny thing is we would have all given about anything for that door stop out here.

Remember Tommy Mom? He passed last week. We tried everything to save him but... anyway mom, he has a wife and a new baby he never met. Could you send my package of Christmas treats to her instead? It would mean so much to me to know you did. He held her picture as he went. She's a fine girl.  Could you look after her, you and pop? She hasn't anyone to care.

Well, we are moving out now and I have to go... I love you all.

Merry Christmas!

Your son - Claude

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Cummins Falls

We've had an unseasonably warm December so we decided to go hiking to one of the many waterfalls near us. The leaves were all brown but it was still a beautiful hike.

We didn't hike all the way down to the falls because it involves wading in thigh deep water and thought it was just a bit to cool for that. We plan on going back during the summer and hiking all the way down.

If you like this post check out our trip to Fall Creek Falls State Park here

#waterfall #hike #falls #Travel #Tennessee #TravelTN #WhereToGo #TennesseeTourism #Nature #trails #park #travelblogger #tblogger

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

When The Holidays Find You Alone

It is that time of year again. Carols are playing on the radio and turkeys are on sale at the grocery store. People start talking about going "home for the holidays" and the pressure is on to make that perfect meal, the perfect table setting. Cue the music, dim the lights, insert the laughter...

For some, there is no laughter, no warmth of family. Like for Kelly, Whose family has estranged her children and grandchildren won't be coming to have the perfect meal- they won't even call. The smell of a TV dinner fills her house as she puts in a DVD of 'Holiday Inn' and scoots the cat Mylow out of the chair. Looking out the window she sees the neighbors kids playing tag with 1/2 a dozen cousins. For a minute, those faces become her children's, oh what she would do to go back to those days just for a moment. She glances at the phone- knowing it will never ring.

For Sarah, she has a husband and children and so much cooking to do but oh - for  the empty chairs. Christmas is at her house this year because momma is gone. She picks out a turkey realizing that she does not even know how to cook one - it was always just there cooked to moist golden perfection on the table ready to carve. She wished she could call her and ask her all her secrets to say that she loves her just one more time.

Kat is not really alone for Thanksgiving just in a new town with the kids and Danny has deployed again. It has been so long she can't remember what it feels like to have him there. She tries to be strong and hold it all together- But... If only he were here today-.

Truman can smell the turkey and gravy from his room at Shady Glenn Nursing Home. He knows it is about time to eat but still, he lingers. Hoping, someone will arrive and take him home. He glances at the clock on the wall wondering what is keeping them surely this year they will remember him...

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Our Favorite Christmas Treats

Peanut Brittle

1 Pound Roasted Peanuts
1 1/2 Cup Raw Sugar
1 Teaspoon Real Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Spring Water
3 Tablespoons Organic Butter
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda

Preheat oven to 200ºF and then grease two cookie sheets. Mix sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium size pan on medium heat. Stir occasionally until the candy thermometer reads 240ºF. Stir in butter and peanuts. Cook stirring constantly until it reaches 300ºF and stir in baking soda mixture until light and foamy. Pour half of the brittle onto each cookie sheet. Spread about 1/4 inch thick. Cool for at least an hour and then break into pieces. 

Carmel Corn

12 cups freshly popped popcorn
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup light or dark corn syrup
 1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

 Heat oven to 300 degrees. Grease two rimmed pan. Pop popcorn, and spread into the pans. Melt butter in a large pan over medium to high heat. Add sugar and corn syrup stir until combined. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer without touching for 5 minutes. Stir and then cook for 4-6 more minutes stirring every 30 seconds.  Turn of the heat and slowly stir in salt, baking soda and vanilla. Be careful the mixture will bubble. Pour over popcorn and stir, make sure to coat all the pieces. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove and cool.  Once cool break up.

Grandma's Peanut Butter Bonbon's

1lb of organic powdered sugar

12oz organic peanut butter or other nut butter (or 18oz)

1 stick of melted organic butter
12oz organic  chocolate chips
Chopped Walnuts (Optional)

Mix & shape into small balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Chop walnuts, push a small piece into the center, then roll the dough through chopped nuts so that it is coated. Melt chocolate in top of double boiler. Dip balls into chocolate mixture with tooth pick. put on was paper to dry. If you don't want the nuts you can skip that step and just dip the plain balls into the chocolate.

Organic Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

 1/2 Cups of organic flour
1 Teaspoon Baking soda
 1/2 Teaspoon salt 
1 Cup grass fed butter 
1 Cup organic sugar 
2 pastured Eggs 
1 1/2 Teaspoon vanilla 
1 Cup organic dark chocolate 
1 Cup organic white chocolate 
1 Cup walnuts chopped

Stir together in a large bowl  flour, soda,and salt. Then add butter and sugar. Mix until combined then add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Then stir in chocolate and nuts. Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes then pull out of the oven and allow to cool.

Organic Peppermint Bark

24 oz  Organic White Chocolate
24 oz Organic Dark Chocolate 70 % Caco
1 Container Of Peppermint Candy Canes
Stevia Liquid to taste

Pound the Candy Canes until they are broken up. (we used a rolling pen. Just remember to put the Candy Canes in a bag before breaking them up or you will get a very large mess) Melt the dark chocolate and lay it on a wax paper covered cookie sheet and allow to cool and harden. Melt the white chocolate and sprinkle candy cane pieces over the top of the chocolate. Allow to cool and harden then break it up.

Organic Toffee Bark

24 oz Organic White Chocolate 
24 oz Organic Dark Chocolate 
1 Bag of Toffee 

Break up Toffee. Melt the dark chocolate and lay it on a wax paper covered cookie sheet and allow to cool and harden. Melt the white chocolate and sprinkle Toffee pieces over the top of the chocolate. Allow to cool and harden then break it up.

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