Atlanta Fall Bucket List


October, the Southerners’ reward for surviving summer. 

I’ve never met a Southerner that doesn’t like love October. Honestly! Would such a person be human? Despite having 31 days, and sometimes 5 glorious weekends, there never seems to be enough October to go around. Unless I schedule our October days to make the most of the cool things happening around town, we just don’t get around to doing it all. 
I’ve made a list of some neat things both ITP and OTP (that’s inside-the-perimeter and outside-the-perimeter for all of you newbies) that you may want to take advantage of this fall. Each name links back to a website; Just hover your mouse and click for more details! I’m happy to add to the list. Just leave a comment or shoot me an email.
Now, go forth and get your pumpkin on!

Inside the Perimeter

1. Boo at the Zoo (Zoo Atlanta) – Special activities Saturdays and Sundays, October 18, 19, 25, & 26. 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
2. Ogre-tober and Scarecrows in the Garden (Atlanta Botanical Gardens) – Lots of Ogre-tober happenings! Click to check out their calender of events. 
3. Capturing the Spirit of Oakland Halloween Tour (Oakland Cemetery) – The only time of year when tours are available after dark. Advance tickets must be purchased and sell out quickly!
4. Georgia A-Scary-Um (Georgia Aquarium) – Special extended hours. Kids 12 and under get in free if they dress in costume with each paying adult. Click the link for details!
5. Fernbank Boo-Seum Trick-or-Treat (Fernbank Museum of Natural History) – Lots of un-scary fun for the little monsters on the Saturday before Halloween. Special events throughout the museum from 10 – 2, all of which are included in admission or FREE for members.

Outside the Perimeter (and Beyond!)

5. Stone Mountain Park Pumpkin Festival – Tons to do here for the kids. Check out the website! Sometimes tickets go on flash-sale. 
6. Buford Corn Maze – More than just a corn maze! Hayrides, family activities, and a haunted forest. 
7. Jaemor Farms – Take a drive up to Alto, Georgia. The farm itself is gorgeous, and there are super fun things like apple canons, slides, corn maze, pick your own pumpkins, petting zoo, etc. Even a wonderful farm market with everything from fresh produce to fried pies. This is my fave!!! Click the link for more deets!
8. Gold Rush Days – Dahlonega, GA. Before the California gold rush, there was the Dahlonega gold rush! During peak times to see fall foliage, this should be a blast!
9. Oktoberfest – Helen, GA. The town of Helen is a re-creation of an alpine village, and this year marks their 44th annual Oktoberfest. 
10. Georgia Apple Festival – Ellijay, GA. It’s 43rd year as the Georgia Apple Festival, the town of Ellijay puts out quite the welcome wagon. Fun for the whole family, minus Fido (no pets allowed).
11. Six Flags Fright Fest – Frights by night and thrills by day!
12. The Great Miller Lite Chili & BBQ Cookoff – Chili? Yes, please! Held at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, GA. 
This is is far from being complete of everything Atlanta has to offer this fall. Make sure you take the time to create some awesome, life-long memories!

Fake It Till You Make It Muffins

Before I share my tips for these totally delish muffins, there are some things that y’all need to know.

1. (most importantly) Fake it till you make it.
2. Think smart, not hard.
3. No one’s perfect.

I’m a MOM? “Don’t let them see the fear in your eyes! Fake it till you make it!” I am embarrassed to admit how many times it gets close to dinner time, and the thought actually runs through my head of, “Oh, that would be me. It appears as though that’s my job. I guess I’m the one in charge of making that happen.” I wish I could say that this was when my kids were toddlers, but it has happened as recently as last night. I have never appreciated food cooked by other people more than since I became a mom.

My husband could put a poptart on a paper plate and declare it dinner,
and my eyes would roll back in my head. “I didn’t make this! Ermergherd, this is soooo good!”

Do I like cooking? Sure. Do I like cooking every day? Not a chance. Do I like going to the grocery store to get supplies to cook with? I’d rather have my eyelashes waxed. This brings me to the “think smart, not hard” part. I’m going to confess: Brinner happens way more than normal around here. You know, breakfast for dinner = brinner. The frequency of brinner is largely in part to the fact that it can involve ingredients that I usually have on hand. Ingredients that you will find below in the recipe, no doubt. Smart is using what you have on hand. Hard is going to the grocery store with kids who would rather be anywhere else.

Pinterest is full of recipes for “busy moms.” Recipes such as balsamic glazed pork chops and cilantro lime avocado chicken really do sound yummy. But both of those require time and ingredients. And someone who has a personal chef and is not shuttling kids from piano to violin to soccer and then lacrosse. (I sat in a car for an hour and a half today just to make the piano lesson even possible.) To sum up all 3 of these philosophies in one statement: If the kids are fed with mostly healthy food and my eye hasn’t twitched involuntarily to hide my stress, then today was a good day! I’m not perfect, and neither are any of the other people filling your Facebook newsfeeds bragging about how awesome their lives are. Give your self permission to do BRINNER!!!

May I present to you…

Fake it Till You Make it Muffins!
(Also known as “From a Box but BETTER Muffins!”)
Step 1: Get a box of your favorite muffin mix. I really do try to make it healthy, so I personally usually opt for something healthy like blueberry, banana, or pumpkin, etc.
Step 2: See the list of needed ingredients and instructions on the back? Disregard them. However many eggs that it says you need, only use the egg whites. In place of the oil or melted butter use Greek yogurt. Use the same amount of milk, but use skim milk. If it calls for water, use skim milk instead.

Tip: I like to use complimentary flavors of Greek yogurt. Blueberry or lemon yogurt both go well with either blueberry or lemon flavored muffin mixes. Vanilla goes well with chocolate or pumpkin mixes. You could even use banana flavored Greek yogurt for banana muffins. If you aren’t sure about using flavored yogurt, just use plain low fat or fat free Greek yogurt.
Step 3: Mix-ins! What can I mix into the batter to get another food group accounted for? Same as with the yogurt, use a mix-in that will go with your flavor. If you are making apple muffins, try finely chopping some apples and mixing them in with the batter. White raisins are really good in pumpkin muffins. Our favorite muffin is blueberry. It has blueberry muffin mix, blueberry yogurt, the can of blueberries that comes with the mix, and a handful of frozen blueberries from our garden.
Step 4: If you want to get fancy you can add some toppings. Try heating some preserves in the microwave and drizzling them on top. Yum!

I’m not perfect. It’s a miracle that I can even pull off brinner. But I do feel better about it when I make an effort to get some healthy ingredients into the mix.

XOXO y’all!


Blueberry Investment: Blueberry Pie

The birds left a few blueberries for us to eat. We only have two bushes, so when we manage to actually get some ripe berries before the birds, I really try to use them wisely. I froze several small baggies for smoothies or for using in muffins. We ate a quart or so for snacking, and the kids ate a bunch off of the bushes. After that, I’ve been hoarding them. I wanted to make something delicious and I knew that would require a great investment of blueberries.

This is what 5 cups of blueberries looks like. For what? A pie. I don’t know why it had to be a pie. I’ve never baked one before. Which is ridiculous, considering the number of pie plates that I own. I looked on the web for the easiest, simplest recipe that I could find. I picked this one.

Pour one tablespoon of lemon juice over 5 cups of blueberries and set aside.

Mix one cup of sugar, half a cup of all-purpose flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, & 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

Add the blueberries and gently stir together to coat the berries. Next use pre-maid pie crust to cover the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate. Fill the crust with the berry mixture and dot with 2 tablespoons of butter. Use the remaining crust to cover the pie. Trim the edges, crimp, and cut slits to vent.

I know, I know. It’s not pretty. But I did it! My first pie. And I didn’t burn it!

You simply have to have it with some vanilla ice cream. So good.
P.S. I hope one day my pies will be this beautiful. And isn’t this pie plate to die for? Love it.